Blog Archives

On Thursday, April 13 will host Dr. Carl Strikwerda to observe the 100-year anniversary of the United States’ involvement in World War I with the colloquium 100 Years: US Entry into World War I. The entry of the United States into World War I in April 1917 changed both American and world history. For the first time, the US became deeply involved in international politics as a military and economic power. Join Dr. Carl Strikwerda as he explores why the US entered The Great War, the national and global impact of our involvement, and how we can use those experiences to inform our nation’s future military decisions.

Dr. Carl J. Strikwerda is the fourteenth president of Elizabethtown College, serving since 2011, and previously served as Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at the College of William and Mary. He has served as a historical consultant to the National World War I Museum in Kansas City, Missouri, and to several colleges and universities on higher education administration. He has lectured to business groups, schools and religious organizations on World War I and the history of globalization.

The colloquium 100 Years: US Entry into World War I will take place on Thursday, April 13, 2017 in Ryder Hall at, 230 N President Avenue, Lancaster. A speaker’s reception with refreshments will begin at 4pm, followed by the lecture from 4:30-5:30pm. This event is free and open to the public.

Wreath Laying at Woodward Hill Cemetery at 10am. Buchanan Birthday Celebration at Wheatland at 12pm until 2pm. 

The 226th anniversary of President James Buchanan’s birth will be commemorated on April 22, 2017 and will feature the annual presentation of the White House wreath for the President’s grave site at Woodward Hill Cemetery starting at 10am followed by a Birthday Celebration at Wheatland starting at 12pm and lasting till 2pm. Both events are free and open to the public.

The day’s events begin at 10am at Woodward Hill Cemetery for the Presidential Wreath-Laying Ceremony. The Ceremony includes remarks delivered by Brigadier General David Wood and County Commissioner Joshua G. Parsons. The James Buchanan Elementary School 5th Grade Chorus will sing the National Anthem after which two 5th Grade students, in historic costume, will assist Brigadier General Wood with the presentation of the Presidential Wreath at Buchanan’s tomb.

Following the ceremony, the public is invited by the students and PTO of James Buchanan Elementary School to President James Buchanan’s Wheatland for a 226th Birthday Celebration. Free tours of the President’s beloved home, Wheatland, are available from 12pm until 2pm with a tour beginning every 15 minutes and the last free tour beginning at 1:45. These tours will be led by the Buchanan Elementary School students as they interpret the history of Wheatland, James Buchanan, his family and his life. Enjoy a slice of James Buchanan’s birthday cake with some punch provided through the generosity of the James Buchanan Elementary Parent Teacher Organization (PTO.)

On Thursday, February 2, 2017, in honor of Black History Month, will welcome M. Alison Kibler of Franklin & Marshall College for the lecture Protests at Rocky Springs — The Integration of Lancaster’s Swimming Pools. The historic protests demanding swimming pool integration at three Lancaster pools – Rocky Springs, Maple Grove, and Brookside – are the focus of this lecture. A panel discussion will follow, featuring guests who will share their recollections of the 1963 protest, including Dr. Leroy Hopkins, Rev. A.L. Stephens, Louise Williams, Nelson Polite Jr., and Attorney Robert Pfannebecker.

The lecture Protests at Rocky Springs will take place on Thursday, February 2, 2017 in Ryder Hall at, 230 N President Avenue in Lancaster, PA. A social gathering will begin at 4pm, followed by the lecture and panel at 4:30pm. The event is free and open to the public.

dolores_parsilJohn Piersol McCaskey was among the first to collect and publish songs for the American public in the 19th century. Once McCaskey was able to convince Harper and Brothers publishing company that such song books would sell, his many songbooks sold in the hundreds of thousands and graced parlor pianos throughout the country. With Christmas, McCaskey’s favorite holiday, came a new host of opportunities including compiling a Christmas book, scheduling annual parties and programs for school students, and preserving the songs of the season in his music books. At this colloquium, local author Dolores Parsil will discuss McCaskey’s contributions to American music, love for the Christmas holidays, and uncanny connection to the song Jolly Old St. Nicholas.
Dolores Parsil, B.S. East Stroudsburg University, and M.A., University of Cincinnati, is a retired McCaskey High School communication arts teacher. She resides in Lancaster with her husband, Wayne. Parsil will be available before and after the lecture to sign copies of her biography of McCaskey, Lancaster’s Good Man, John Piersol McCaskey, available for purchase at the Museum Store.
The colloquium Lancaster’s Music Man will take place on Thursday, December 15, 2016 in Ryder Hall at, 230 North President Avenue, Lancaster. A social gathering with refreshments will begin at 4pm, followed by the lecture from 4:30-5:30pm. This event is free and open to the public.

a11m9yqucdl-_ux250_At this November colloquium, Patrick Spero, Ph.D. will discuss his new publication Frontier Country: The Politics of War in Early Pennsylvania. “In Frontier Country, Spero addresses one of the most controversial subjects in American history: the frontier. Countering the modern conception of the American frontier as an area of expansion, Spero employs the eighteenth-century meaning of the term to show colonists understood it as a vulnerable, militarized boundary. The Pennsylvania frontier, Spero argues, was constituted through conflicts not only between colonists and Native Americans but also among neighboring British colonies. These violent encounters created what Spero describes as a distinctive ‘frontier society’ on the eve of the American Revolution that transformed the once-peaceful colony of Pennsylvania into a ‘frontier county'” (Frontier Country).

Patrick Spero, Ph.D. is the Librarian and Director of the American Philosophical Society. Frontier Country is the first book written by Spero and is a volume in the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Press Early American Studies series. Previously he was the co-editor of the anthology The American Revolution Reborn: New Perspective for the 21st Century. Spero earned his Ph.D. in History at the University of Pennsylvania and has since held roles there as professor, essayist, and lecturer, specializing in the era of the American Revolution.

The colloquium Frontier Country will take place on Thursday, November 17, 2016 in Ryder Hall at, 230 N President Avenue, Lancaster. A social gathering with refreshments and a booksigning by the author will begin at 4pm, followed by the lecture from 4:30-5:30pm. This event is free and open to the public.

balcerski_tomThomas Balcerski, Ph.D. will conclude the Presidential Lecture Series for 2016 with his discussion on James Buchanan & The Onset of Reconstruction in the South. Although often overlooked, James Buchanan lived during the first three years of the federal reconstruction in the South. Firmly situated at Wheatland, his home near Lancaster, Buchanan wrote letters to fellow Democrats about the state of affairs in the postwar nation. The talk will assess Buchanan’s contribution to national politics in his final three years (1865-1868) and consider more broadly the rhetoric of the Democratic Party at the outset of Reconstruction. Old Buck, as it turns out, was ahead of the curve of the national mood.

Thomas Balcerski, Ph.D. is currently the Assistant Professor of History at Eastern Connecticut State University. He graduated from Cornell University in 2005 with undergraduate degrees in Economics and American Studies. Next, he attended Stony Brook University and competed a MA in History. He then earned a Ph.D. in History from Cornell University in 2014. His research and teaching interests include early American history, politics, and manhood.

The Presidential Lecture James Buchanan & The Onset of Reconstruction in the South will take place on Thursday, November 10, 2016 in Ryder Hall at, 230 N President Avenue, Lancaster. A social gathering with refreshments will begin at 4pm, followed by the lecture from 4:30-5:30pm. This event is free and open to the public.

diggins_wiltPublic historian and researcher Milt Diggins will discuss his new publication Stealing Freedom Along the Mason-Dixon Line: Thomas McCreary, the Notorious Slave Catcher from Maryland at this October Regional History Colloquium. “Thomas McCreary was a slave catcher and kidnapper unconcerned for the difference between the two activities. He lived in Cecil County, Maryland, the mid-point between Philadelphia, a refuge for freedom seekers, and Baltimore, a major slave market. McCreary and his community provide a close up view of the toxic effects the debate over slavery had on the country in the years leading up to the Civil War” (Diggins). Diggins’ presentation will shed light on the fascinating historical figure who earned a living hunting down escaped slaves around the Philadelphia area in the decades preceding the Civil War. McCreary’s story collides with Lancaster’s at the Christiana Resistance and its aftermath.

Milt Diggins, M.ed., is an independent scholar, author, public historian, and lecturer from Cecil County, Maryland. He serves on the Historical Society of Cecil County Board of Trustees and has taught in the county’s public school and community college. Stealing Freedom is Diggins’ second book, after Images of America: Cecil County. He has also been published in Cecil Historical JournalMaryland Historical Magazine, and Cecil Whig.

The colloquium Stealing Freedom Along the Mason-Dixon Line will take place on Thursday, October 27, 2016 in Ryder Hall at, 230 N President Avenue, Lancaster. A social gathering with refreshments and a booksigning by the author will begin at 4pm, followed by the lecture from 4:30-5:30pm. This event is free and open to the public.

Do you have a collection of family papers, your child’s artwork, love letters, and photographs? You may have questions about how to preserve your collection, which items to keep, and how to display and enjoy them. staff field questions about preservation daily. On October 20th, you’ll have the opportunity to have your questions answered in person. Attend an hour long session with our expert staff as we view two short videos produced in collaboration with the National Archives on how to start preserving your treasures. Following the videos, our staff will offer advice and guidance for storing and displaying documents and photographs, and answer your questions! We will show examples of how the historical society preserves Lancaster County’s historic archival and photographic materials. Our galleries and research library will be open, and we invite you to spend the day with us. 

The session takes place at in Ryder Hall from 12:30-1:30pm on Thursday, October 20. The session is free and open to the public. Reservations not required.’s Presidential Lecture for October will feature Doug Egerton, Ph.D. who will discuss Black Activism and Reconstruction in the North. Republican politicians and white reformers invariably thought of Reconstruction as a policy aimed at the defeated Confederacy. Black activists and veterans knew better. As Frederick Douglass once said during the conflict, this was a war of “national reclamation.” Black Pennsylvanians were among the largest state contingents in the pioneering African-American units, the Massachusetts Fifty-fourth and Fifty-fifth Infantry regiments, yet as in Lincoln’s Illinois, these soldiers could not vote in the Quaker State, even at the war’s end. In a series of northern conventions starting in 1864, black activists demanded not merely the death of slavery, but voting rights and social equality in every state. This talk chronicles the struggle to make Reconstruction a national movement and shows, as the 1871 Election Day assassination of Philadelphia teach and activist Octavius Catto reminds us, that many Americans gave their last full measure of devotion long after formal combat ended in 1865.

Douglas R. Egerton has taught history at Le Moyne College since 1987; he has also held visiting appointments at Colgate University, Cornell University, and the University College of Dublin. He is the author of eight books, including Thunder At the Gates: The Black Civil War Regiments That Redeemed America (2016), He Shall Go Out Free: The Lives of Denmark Vesey (1999), The Wars of Reconstruction: The Brief, Violent History of America’s Most Progressive Era (2014), Year of Meteors: Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, and the Election That Brought on the Civil War (2010), Gabriel’s Rebellion: The Virginia Slave Conspiracies of 1800 and 1802 (1993), and Death or Liberty: African Americans and Revolutionary America (2009). His essays and reviews have appeared in the New York Times, the Nation, and the Boston Globe. He lives near Syracuse, New York, with his wife, historian Leigh Fought.

The Presidential Lecture Black Activism and Reconstruction in the North will take place on Friday, October 14, 2016 in Ryder Hall at, 230 N President Avenue, Lancaster. A social gathering with refreshments will begin at 4pm, followed by the lecture from 4:30-5:30pm. This event is free and open to the public.

copperhead_or_war_democratJoin us as we step back to October 1864, one month before the Presidential election. Peace Democrats were Northern Party members vehemently opposed to Lincoln’s war policy; they were advocates of restoration of the Union through a negotiated settlement. War Democrats rejected the Peace platform altogether. At this time many Americans questioned James Buchanan’s patriotism; some even sent him written threats. Here is your chance to eavesdrop on Mr. Buchanan as he and his Democratic friends enjoy a social gathering at Wheatland. As you watch and listen, try to figure out who are the Copperheads and who are War Democrats.

The Living History at Wheatland program Copperhead or War Democrat takes place on Saturday, October 1, 2016 with tours on the hour starting at 12pm and the last starting at 3pm. A standard tour of Wheatland is also offered at 10am & 11am. We strongly advise making reservations in advance for your tour since tours do fill up and walk-in space is not guaranteed. Please arrive 15 minutes prior to your tour so you may use the facilities and check in.

Visit or call 717-392-4633 to purchase your tickets.