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What Were They Thinking? Slavery in Cumberland County
In terms of slavery, from the time that William Penn set precedent as a prosperous slave holder in the 17th century to the vital role of Philadelphia Quakers as leaders of the abolition movement in the 18th and 19th centuries, Pennsylvania underwent a dramatic transformation. Our state’s quest to rid itself of the institution led to manumission laws which gradually eliminated human bondage. Cumberland County is unique in that it was the only area that saw an increase of slave holdings after manumission. Economics, cultural attitudes, labor relations, taxation, immigration, racial relationships, and social status each played a part. Primary documents present an opportunity to explore life during Pennsylvania’s slave holding decades.  We will also explain uplifting ways in which an enslaved people enriched and defined American culture.

Against the Grain: The Underground Railroad in Central Pennsylvania
County records reveal Central Pennsylvania’s struggle to define its stance towards freedom seekers. Several court cases provide the means to assess mercurial state laws weighed against regional attitudes upholding the constitutional right to slave ownership. You will be introduced to spirited abolitionists willing to stake fortune and reputation in their efforts to protect a vulnerable minority, as well as runaways desperate to prevent being separated from their loved ones, and owners looking to the law to protect their vital investment. Using role playing, we will reenact key events which reached a national audience. Each case is a study in the difficulties of navigating through this polarizing subject.

“If You Will Back Me Up:” Love, Honor, and Technology in the Civil War
A monument in downtown Carlisle memorializes county soldiers who sacrificed their lives a century and a half ago. There is life and meaning to the 171 names carved in stone. Men abandoned beloved wives and children to fight for their beliefs, women persevered and prayed, childhood friends fought on opposing sides, and valiant heroes emerged from the call to defend their nation. Depravation, victory, and loss are conveyed through the inspiring and devastating experiences of area residents. Throughout we will survey the significance of munitions technology, expanding transportation systems, and improved communication; all of which introduced the prototype for 20th century warfare and laid the groundwork for the industrial revolution.

Maggots Are Your Friends: Lessons from Civil War Era Medicine
Horrifying conditions caused more soldiers to perish from diarrhea than bullets while poor logistics and primitive food preservation prompted many an infantryman to crave a meal of raw onions. On the other hand, improved medical procedures, and changing cultural attitudes made medicine during the Civil War a study in opportunity. Mangled limbs, wet gangrene, pus laden bandages, and maggots feasting on your flesh may make you squirm, but lessons from the past can benefit and improve healthcare in unforeseen ways. Learn how munitions technology, crowded camp sites, and overall poor nutrition, hygiene, and sanitation contributed to the high death toll but also lead to surprising innovations and advancements that changed American medicine forever.

Only an Eighth Grade Education? A Day in a One Room Schoolhouse
English as a second language, year round education, and prayer in school are not new debates. These subjects were challenged during the rule of William Penn. His vision of universal classical education was not achieved until the early 20th century. Once the dream of common schools was realized, local students aged four to twenty-one were gathered into solitary classrooms. You will enjoy hearing about the evolution towards the modern school system, the extent to which teachers went to maintain discipline, as well as the ingenious pranks pulled by local students. As we explore the rigorous curriculum of an eighth grade education, you will be astounded and amused by everyday life in a one room setting.

“It’s All”: Influences of Pennsylvania German Culture
As a child did you leave a tooth under your pillow expecting to get a monetary gift in return?  Have you ever enjoyed the creamy sweetness of a delicious whoopee pie or reveled in fairy tales like Little Red Riding Hood? Germans settling in Pennsylvania brought traditions which flavored and enriched the culture of their new home. Holiday celebrations, folk remedies, food, storytelling, arts and crafts, ornamentation, literacy, language, and superstitions were all profoundly shaped by the influx of Germanic immigrants. In this fun and informative program, you will learn of the profound influence of the “Pennsylvania Dutch.” 

Ten Thousand Voices:  The Carlisle Indian Industrial School
In the decades following the Civil War, industrialization and expanding transportation opened the floodgates of immigration, spurred westward expansion, and brought migrating white settlers and native populations into direct conflict.  Moving to protect their investment, the federal government waged war against targeted “hostile” tribes. Meanwhile, progressives were formulating another solution to the “Indian problem.”  Thus Central Pennsylvania became host to one of the most significant social experiments in world history.  You will “visit” the school through the diverse experiences of more than 10,000 students who attended the institution during a forty-year program of forced assimilation.

It Seems Like Such a Quiet Town: Dynamics of the Industrial Revolution in Cumberland County
Central Pennsylvania had its share of industrial leaders who made significant economic and social contributions to the lives of thousands of workers and their families.  Meet a German immigrant who would become the largest manufacturer of women’s shoes in the nation and revel in his patriotic and philanthropic gestures. Participate in the legal struggle of a local inventor who designed a communication system that would challenge Alexander Graham Bell all the way to the Supreme Court. While practicing manners, etiquette, and social skills we will look local businesses and the intriguing connections between Masland Carpet and Ford Motor Company, the history of Frog and Switch, products created by Carlisle Tire and Rubber, and the role of the Cumberland Valley Railroad.