Strike The Tent...
17 February 2011
  150th: All About Racism and Slavery??
I just finished reading Rick Hampson's article in the February 17th, 2011 edition of USA Today, and have had it up to my ears in all the rhetoric about any and all sesquicentennial events over the next 4+ years being held to somehow further racist causes and racist thought. Read the article here and let me know your thoughts...
14 February 2011
  RR Museum Gets Grant to Make Collection Accessible

Here is a story from the Intelligencer-Journal of Lancaster, PA by Larry Alexander about some exciting news at my place of employment, the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, that involves the Civil War.

Strasburg, PA - From Aug. 9, 1862, to Oct. 12, 1865, Pennsylvania Railroad's general superintendent, Enoch Lewis, wrote about 230 letters to John P. Laird, voicing company concerns.

Some letters cautioned Laird, a Pennsylvania Railroad superintendent in Philadelphia, to be leery of the quality of equipment produced by Norris Locomotive Works. In other letters, Lewis voiced frustration with sparks thrown from wood-burning steam locomotives.

The letters also mentioned wages for employees, which ranged from $38 to $120 per month, depending on the position.

And, of course, they expressed concern about the Civil War, especially how to protect Pennsylvania Railroad's Altoona shops from Confederate saboteurs and how to convert surplus locomotives so they could run on the narrower gauge Southern railroads, allowing for the movement of Union troops and supplies over captured rail lines.

All of these letters, plus hundreds of thousands of other documents, railroad blueprints and photographs, soon will be at the public's fingertips.

The Norfolk Southern Foundation recently awarded the Friends of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania a $60,000 grant that will greatly enhance the museum's efforts to put its vast collection online.

With the money, the museum can purchase more computers and scanners, a photograph scanner and a book copier that will permit them to copy pages in books without flattening the spine.

"We have a lot of interest in this material," said Brad Smith, the museum's curator. "We have hundreds of people contacting us every year, and this will allow us to better help them find the information they're looking for."

The museum stores its artifacts, including between 250,000 and 500,000 photographs, in its second-floor archive and an archive annex in the basement. There are not many workstations so items to be scanned or put on microfilm often must be brought up from the basement annex to workstations on the second floor, entered into the searchable database and then returned to the annex.

With the new equipment, additional workstations can be set up in the annex and more volunteers can be brought in to help.

"Right now, we have as many volunteers as we have workstations," archives technician Nick Zmijewski said. "So, by adding more workstations, we can speed up the process."

Even so, Zmijewski said, with "hundreds of cubic feet of records" to enter, the project will "take years to get it all done."

The new technology, Zmijewski said, will begin arriving "within weeks, if not sooner."

Smith and Zmijewski expressed gratitude for the funding to the Norfolk Southern Foundation.

"One of our missions is to make sure our collection is accessible to people, that they know about them and that they can use them," Smith said. "And whether it's a Ph.D. historian, a sixth-grader working on a book report or anyone in between, we want to make sure the public has access."
  Some Civil War News...
State's war re-enactors want to up black powder limits (WA)
Civil War scenes are focus of Eastman House exhibit (NY)
Police Investigating Theft of Civil War Antiques (KY)
09 February 2011
  Civil War News Updates
"Columbia's Longest Days" event to be held Feb. 19 (SC)
Lanesborough revisits Civil War(MA)
"Lincoln & The Civil War" at North Adams Museum (MA)
The 'Irish Brigade' marches into town (MA)
Battle brewing over Civil War: New York State Military Museum friends struggle to fund sesquicentennial events (NY)
A Bad Document’s Good Idea (New York Times)
Supporters of Harriet Tubman Statue Prepare for a Political Fight (MD)
05 February 2011
  Volunteers Needed to Clean Up Civil War Sites
February 3, 2011

For more information, contact:
Mary Koik, (202) 367-1861 x7231


(Washington, D.C.) – Almost exactly 150 years after the first shots of the Civil War were fired, another wave of volunteers is about to descend on America’s storied battlegrounds. But this array of dedicated men and women will be armed with paint brushes, trash bags and weed whackers — not muskets — ready to help prepare these tangible links to our past for the Sesquicentennial Commemoration of the Civil War.

Find a Park Day site near you

See past Park Day Projects

On Saturday, April 2, 2011, history buffs and preservationists from around the country will team up with the Civil War Trust to help clean and restore America’s priceless battlefields, cemeteries and shrines. The nationwide effort – dubbed Park Day – is underwritten with a grant from History™, formerly The History Channel, and has been endorsed by Take Pride in America, a division of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Park Day, now in its 15th year, is an annual hands-on preservation event created by the Trust to assist local groups with the maintenance of Civil War sites. This year, more than 100 sites in 22 states are expected to take part in the effort, with activities ranging from trash removal to trail building. In exchange for their hard work, volunteers can receive t-shirts or patches and learn about the site’s history from local experts.

Participating sites select activities tailored to their individual maintenance and improvement needs. Find a site near you and learn about specific projects at Volunteers of all ages and ability levels are welcome, and many activities are appropriate for groups, like scout troops.

WHAT: “Park Day” historic preservation event

WHEN: April 2, 2011

WHERE: More than 100 participating sites in 22 states

With 55,000 members, the Civil War Trust is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the United States. Its goal is to preserve our nation’s endangered Civil War sites and to promote appreciation of these hallowed grounds through education and heritage tourism. The Trust’s website is located at

(For a complete list of participating Park Day sites, visit
A Reference & Research Destination With Peer-Reviewed Sources, Published By an Amatuer Civil War Enthusiast.

Location: Gordonville, Pennsylvania, United States
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