Children’s Book Club

In his book I Can Read With My Eyes Shut, Doctor Seuss wrote, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” The Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center’s education department is pleased to host a new children’s program that started this fall called The Children’s Book Club. The Children’s Book Club’s mission is for children to discover their passion and enjoyment for reading literature and to share it with family and friends. The club includes both children and parent/guardian participation and commitment. By having both children and parents/guardians participate in a book club together provides the opportunity to share thoughts and feelings over various topics together. Children will benefit from participating in this book club by enhancing their literacy skills, learning new vocabulary, listening to different points of view, and developing skills such as analyzing and making predictions.

           The Children’s Book Club will meet the second Thursday of each month at the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center from 4:30-5:30 pm. It is important to try to attend the majority of meetings. The first meeting, which was an organizational meeting, was on Thursday, October 9. Below, you will see the handout that participants received:
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Children’s Book Club-Organizational Meeting

  • Welcome to the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center and thank you for participating in the Children’s Book Club.

Mission

The Children’s Book Club is for children to discover their passion and enjoyment for reading literature and to share it with family and friends.

Schedule and Attendance

The Children’s Book Club will meet the second Thursday of each month at the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center from 4:30-5:30pm. The Children’s Book Club will include children and parent/guardian participation and commitment. By having both children and parent/guardian participation will provide an opportunity to share your thoughts and feelings over a topic together. It is important to try to attend the majority of meetings.
Upcoming Dates: Thursday, November 13, 4:30-5:30pm.
Thursday, December 11, 4:30-5:30pm.

Book Club Rules

1. Come prepared to talk about the book.
2. Listen to others.
3. One person talk at a time.
4. Ask questions and share your thoughts.
5. Be respectful and listen to different thoughts and opinions.

For Parents/Guardians

1. Work as a team with your child.
2. Encourage children to participate in discussions. Help enrich discussions!

Book Club Meeting Outline

  • Upcoming Announcements
    • Review schedule.
  • Welcoming Activity
    • Short activity related to the book which will help start book discussion. All group members will participate.
  • Book Discussion
    • The majority of the meeting time will be devoted towards the book discussion. Children and adults will participate. Discussion will be based on answering and discussing the prepared questions.
  • Extension Activity
    • Participants will engage in a small activity that will relate to the book.
  • Book Rating
    • Each member will rate the chosen book by using a star system.
    • 1 Star- Did not like the book.
    • 2 Stars- The book was okay but would not read again or recommend.
    • 3 Stars- Liked the book.
    • 4 Stars- Enjoyed the book and will read again and recommend.
    • Discuss book ratings.
  • Book Selection
    • As a group, decide and agree upon the next book to read for the next meeting. Also decide whether to read entire book or to split into two parts to read and discuss.

How to Prepare for Book Club Meetings

Children

  • Read the book!
  • Keep a reading journal. As you read, write down your thoughts, feelings, and questions about the book. This will help book club discussions.
  • Be prepared to talk about the book, answer questions, and share opinions.
  • Prepare a question to ask to the group during book club meetings.

For Parents/Guardians

  • Read the book!
  • Prepare a question to ask to enhance discussions.

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We still have space for new group members to join. There is a registration fee of $2 to become a member of the Children’s Book Club. The ideal group number will be between 10-20 participants. The age range will be targeted between ages 9-14, however exceptions can be made. Children will receive a reading journal in which they can write down their thoughts, feelings, and questions about the book. Reading journals will be brought to each meeting and will help develop discussions. Participants will be responsible for acquiring each chosen book.

Again, the Children’s Book Club will meet the second Thursday of each month at the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center from 4:30-5:30 pm. The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, November 11, and we will be discussing the book, The Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle. If you would like to sign up and become a member of the Children’s Book Club you can find the registration form on our website http://www.schwenkfelder.com or contact me at 215-679-3103 (ask for Laura) or by email at laura@schwenkfelder.com to register. Sign up today!

Come and discover what reading literature can teach you and where it may take you while joining us at the Children’s Book Club at the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center!

Laura Price
Museum Educator

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My Recent Genealogy Presentation

Having just finished the genealogy presentation for the September Brown Bag Lecture Series, I think it would be a good idea to recap the major points of my talk so that they are available to everyone online. The talk was broken down into three major parts:

• Resources at the SLHC: published/unpublished records and unique documents
• Online genealogical research
• DNA and genealogy

In the introduction I tried to show how despite the enormous growth of genealogical research since the advent of the World Wide Web, it is important to use resources such as the SLHC because there is still vast amounts of genealogical information that is not available online and may never be online.
Genealogical research has exploded in the past twenty years or so. Since the dawn of the World Wide Web in the 1990s, hundreds (maybe even thousands) of websites dedicated to helping people uncover their family histories and share information have been created. Besides the huge growth of online research and information sharing provided by these websites, new DNA technology, also available online, has made proving one’s genetic ancestry possible. At the same time, libraries and archives have in their collections vast amounts of genealogical resources that have not been, and may never be, made available online and which can only be found offline. Contemporary genealogical research is then both traditional and innovative. In either case, claims of ancestry will always have to be proven with records and other documents, whether found in a library or online. DNA also has its limits. The facts in genealogical research have not changed, only the speed and efficiency of discovering some of them has.

Part I: Resources at the SLHC
Genealogical resources at the SLHC range from publications such as family histories and state archives that can be found in most good genealogical libraries to unique manuscripts from our collection which have never, and may never, be available to researchers other than those who visit our library. The general list of resources at the SLHC include: family histories, immigration records, newspapers, church records, census records, tax lists, military records (state archives, etc.), periodicals, directories, deeds, land drafts, family bibles, birth and baptismal certificates (taufscheins), wills and estate papers, diaries, funeral home records, scrapbooks, account books, research notes by other researchers, personal papers and correspondence

Part II: Online Genealogical Research
The immediate availability of information means that people can search for ancestors from the comfort of their own homes and avoid the prohibitive costs of travel and all the problems associated with researching in a library, especially when far from home. The benefits of online genealogical research include message boards dedicated to particular families or surnames that help researchers share information and even perhaps meet relatives they never imagined even existed; personal family websites allow people to upload their family history and news; unproven or unsourced claims can be scrutinized more easily since there is often more than one person researching a particular family. The downside of online research mostly is that not all information has been or may ever will be available. Also, despite saving money in travel costs, etc. there are still costs attached to many websites. Finally, you cannot believe everything you read online; claims of ancestry still need to have legitimate sources.

Part III: DNA and Genealogy
Every human cell has 23 pairs of chromosomes and these contain most of your DNA. Each chromosome of 22 pairs (or autosomes) comes from both mother and father. The 23rd chromosome determines sex: two X chromosomes = female; one X and one Y chromosome = male. Males inherit Y from father with no mixing from the mother. All of these chromosomes live in the nuclei of our cells. However, mitochondrial DNA lives outside cells’ nuclei and is passed on only from mother to child. What do DNA tests for genealogy determin?: determine if two people are related; determine if two people are descended from a common ancestor; help determine whether people with a common surname are related; give your basic ethnic makeup or origin. There are three kinds of DNA tests for genealogy: Mitochondrial (mtDNA) DNA; Y DNA; Autosomal DNA.

For more information regarding this presentation or genealogical research in general, contact me, Hunt Schenkel, via email at: hunt@schwenkfelder.com, or phone: (215) 679-3103

Hunt Schenkel – Archivist

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Heritage Tour 2014 – Day 2

What a wonderful day we had today touring Goerlitz with our dear friend Margrit Kempgen. She is such a gift to the community and we are especially blessed to have her as a friend!
First at the Frauenkirche she explained an unrestored section of wall – very faint painting visible from the 1600s or so. This was placed in a prominent spot, very visible to the Pastor, honoring two Goerlit merchants who were early Schwenkfelders and assisted the Schwenkfeldian cause in Goerlitz.
Then off to the Nicolaikirche with its memorial slowly being restored honoring victims of WWI – very moving. Along the way we picked up and enjoyed some Amerikana’s – a cake-like cookie with icing begun about the time of WWII and influenced by our American Soldiers stationed in Germany.
Up to a burial vault in the Nicolai Cemetery and Margrit explained the symbolism of the burial and text of the wealthy merchant’s tomb.
After a quick visit to the grave of Jacob Boehm, it was back in the old town of the Lower Market and the City Archive where we were shown some manuscripts and genealogy records of Goerlit citizens who followed the writings of Schwenckfeld.
Free time for wandering this gorgeous city (we even saw the store used in the recent film Grand Bucharest Hotel – and thought we were wandering the set streets as well) and finding our lunch on our own. Great time to experience the struggle of understanding the menu and ordering something we weren’t quite sure what we’d get!
Crossed over to Poland on the footbridge over the River Neisse separating the two nations. Wow!
Final explore at the Baroque House Museum and a guided tour with a costumed guide, with Margrit translating for our Baroque, Gorlitz wealthy merchant of course!
Concluded our busy day with a wondering “BBQ” inside around a huge table with Margrit and her husband Gunther. It was very satisfying for me to sit and look around in the room filled with the wonderful cacophony of friendly, lively conversation – this is GREAT group!
Margrit introduced me to her regional Bishop of the Reformed Church – we had a very interesting, if brief, chat.
About 12 members of the group carried on a lively conversation to conclude the day in the little lounge with wine, beer, orange drink and water abounding – a fitting conclusion to a fun and fascinating day!

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Heritage Tour 2014 – Post #1

We had a smooth and tolerable flight! Everyone we expected was waiting at Newark airport for the Schwenkfelder Heritage Tour. Two couples were flying separately to Berlin – one from Florida through France and our Kiwi friends from New Zealand.
When we arrived and passed through passport control – very simple and efficient procedure through Tegel airport in Berlin, we walked into the corridor outside our gate and immediately found our awaiting travelers – the group was complete – tired, but complete!
After a bit of sorting out – finding our bus, figuring out where we were in the airport, getting some Euros from ATMs or money-exchangers, using the WC’s (as they were now to be called) we trekked through the busy airport to our bus – Hooray for Udo, our bus driver!
Udo drove the bus for our 2010 Heritage Tour and was a great driver and a very personable guy. He quickly loaded everyone up, called in our lunch reservations and off we went – at 10:00 am sharp – we are timely group!
Lunch was wonderful at the Strandcafe in Lueben along the Spreewald. The waitress was very helpful with the latest technical gadget to make ordering and paying a breeze.
A quick wander through this vacation – and gerkin – focused locale (there was even a gift shop to explore!), we loaded up and left precisely at our scheduled time of 1:30 pm – what a wonderful group!
Now the next adventure began: the bus pulled up at the base of the Kreuzbergbaude – a Reformed church retreat center – but couldn’t get us to the door. After talking to the man at the center, some began pulling their bags up the 3 block, cobblestone hill climb, others opted to leave their bags and walk the climb themselves.
The man quickly arrived, however, loaded up a couple bags and people in his car and drove them up the hill – off he went to retrieve the remaining bags and, soon enough, we were all checked in – despite the confusing directions he tried helpfully to provide in German to us English only speakers! We figured it all out.
A brief rest, quick shower for some, climb to a beautiful lookout for others, and then off to dinner at Landeskrone – where early 20th century Schwenkfelders on a Silesian pilgrimage climbed to admire the view.
Some walked and others, me included, opted to get a ride up the volcanic summit for the view. Fantastic – if a bit overcast. The walkers got a bit of rain, but also were accompanied by Margrit Kempgen, our effervescent Goerlit guide and good friend to the Schwenkfelders. She lives nearby the Landeskrone and joined the climb and the rest of the tour-group for dinner.
Dinner was excellent – one dish, Schlesisches Himmelreich (Silesian Kingdom of Heaven) was amazing! “A traditional German recipe: pork chops (we would call it ham) that are fried and then stewed with dried fruit that have been soaked in cold tea.” Fabulous!
Also popular was the Puppen-Schultzen Schwarze bier – a dark beer, malty, not heavy, with a delightful sweet finish – excellent!
The group was getting to know one another, talking and bonding and dividing up in different groups – a great first day was had by all!

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Christopher Hoffmann, Eighteenth Century Schwenkfelder Bookbinder

The major occupation of the Schwenkfelder immigrants was farming. A few had one or more avocations. Christopher Hoffmann was a farmer and his avocations were school teacher, pastor, copyist, and bookbinder.

As a six-year-old, Christopher accompanied his grandmother, father, mother and two older sisters on the 22 week trek from Berthelsdorf, Saxony (where he was born), to Pennsylvania. Nothing is known about his childhood or even his teen years. His father, Balthasar, was no doubt the person who taught him to read and write, imparting to him a love for books.

As a rather young man, I would think, he was trained in the art of bookbinding and soon become the bookbinder for the Schwenkfelder community in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately no clue has been found about who trained him in this trade. When he purchased land in 1752, he was already dubbed “the Bookbinder”. While in Europe the Schwenkfelders were prohibited from publishing because they were seen as heretics. Their writings existed only in manuscript form, which, from time to time, were bound by a bookbinder. Nor has any evidence been found that a bookbinder was among the Pennsylvania immigrants. Yet a need for a bookbinder in the community was evident. Old books needed repair and new manuscripts needed bindings. In some cases multiple copies of a particular title were needed. One example is the “Daily Songbook”, a short, abridged hymnal. Every family needed at least one copy, and Schwenkfelder scriveners such as Hans Christopher Heebner and Christopher Hoffmann produced many copies of this staple.

Hoffmann Binding The Schwenkfelder Library & Heritage Center has at least two hundred books bound by Christopher Hoffmann. Reflective of Schwenkfelder modesty and humility Hoffmann’s bindings are easily spotted. The leather is plain brown. The design is very simple: two parallel lines 1/8 inch apart on top, bottom and front edges. The back edge has two sets of these parallel lines about 3/8 inch apart. Some books have a small, decorative spray stamp in the four corners. Other has a tiny decoration applied probably by a wheel tool along the thin border line.

Hoffmann was the binder for three major Schwenkfelder book publishing projects. While exact numbers are not known, each project must have required the binding of more than a hundred copies. The first of these was the 1762 Schwenkfelder hymnal; the second was the 1763 catechism, and the last was the 1771 Vindication of Caspar Schwenckfeld.

There is no evidence that Hoffmann had any assistants or apprentices. No one is known to have taken over Hoffmann’s binding business one he retired or died. Interestingly Hoffmann did write a manual describing most if not all the procedures he applied when binding books. The manual would seem to be a resource for someone learning the trade, but the single extant copy in his handwriting bears no sign of even slight use. This book is a rare manual of bookbinding in colonial Pennsylvania.

I am always intrigued by the little scraps of paper I often find in our eighteenth century books. Some of the more interesting ones are the fees that Hoffmann charged for his services. Normally his bills conHoffmann Binding Charges_1tain two charges: one for materials and another for labor. The bill below shows the changes for a postil (a book of sermons) and for hymnals. The material for the postil cost 12 schillings and 5 pence; the binding was 7 schillings and 9 pence because the book was already “hammered” (process in binding), otherwise the cost would have been 8 schillings (3 pence more). The material for the hymnals cost 7 schillings 10 pence; the binding was 4 schilling 6 pence.

As researcher and cataloger I am always finding curious and interesting scraps of paper and other curiosities stuck into these old books in our collection. These items often give us insight into the people who once owned them or had them in their hands, which we would otherwise not have.

Allen Viehmeyer
Associate Director for Research

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Time for Tea!

How do you take your tea? Cream, sugar, lemon? Well at this party, not only can you enjoy a hot cup of tea and healthy delicious treats, but you also get the chance to learn a little history. At American Girl Teatime, young girls have the chance to bring along their favorite doll or toy and enjoy some quality time with friends and family. We meet the last Thursday of each month from 4:30-5:30pm at the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center.

During each gathering of American Girl Teatime, we learn about inspiring female historical figures and later hold a discussion. Each month has a different topic and theme. At our first get together in March, we learned about the life and accomplishments of Helen Keller, and practiced how to sign the alphabet using American Sign Language (ASL) alphabet. For April’s get together, I chose a female historical figure that was left in the suggestion box by a participant. We learned about Annie Funk, a local female historical figure, who dedicated her life to missionary work, and who also gave up her seat on a lifeboat on the Titanic to save the lives of others. Again we held a conversation around how she was brave and why she is an inspiration. Girls later worked on an activity sheet based off of what we learned about the Titanic and of Annie Funk’s life.

All girls that attend this program receive a diary to keep and to write in. Along with their doll, girls bring their diaries back to each meeting and we take time to share and talk together. A small activity is also planned that relates to the topic at each gathering.

The main idea of this program is to create a comfortable atmosphere for girls to spend time with their friends, family, and dolls together and to learn about inspiring female historical figures. It is important to have role models to look up to in life, and if we take a look back at history there are quite a few role models to learn about and be encouraged by. I hope that girls have a chance to socialize and to make new friends with other girls who have common interests. Also, I wish that they leave feeling optimistic and to believe that they can reach any goal that they have for the future.

May’s American Girl Teatime is coming up this Thursday, the 29th. I hope to see returning and new faces there. All are welcome to this free program. Small donations are appreciated to support and continue other programs that the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center hosts. You will also find out who we will be learning and discussing about and partake in fun activities! If you have any comments or questions please contact me at 215-679-3103 or laura@schwenkfelder.com.

History has always motivated and intrigued me to try my best in creating a better future. Any action helps… perhaps even holding a teatime program. So, how do you take your tea? You can tell me at the next American Girl Teatime!

Laura Price
Museum Educator
Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center

 

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Continuing to Organize the Personal Papers Collections

Over the past few months I have been busy identifying and sorting the personal paper collections held in the Closed Stacks storage area. These papers are mostly collections of correspondence, sermons, research notes, copies of manuscripts as well and records of various kinds such as deeds and account books, and some photographs. They were mostly created in the early-to-mid 20th c. either by Schwenkfelders associated with the Corpus Schwenckfeldianorum project and the Schwenkfelder Library, the Schwenkfelder Church and clergy, or Schwenkfelders associated with the Perkiomen School. Names such as O. S. Kriebel, Flora Heebner, Elmer E. S. Johnson, Selina Gerhard Schultz, Lester Kriebel and Wayne Meschter make up the creators of many of these papers. There are also collections of papers, large and small, that have been donated to the library by individuals not directly associated with the library or even with the Schwenkfelders. We have, for instance, large collections given by Civil War veteran Jacob B. Stauffer and Ursinus history professor William Parsons.

The SLHC started collecting these papers during with the Corpus project in the late 19th and early 20th c. The Corpus project, in essence, was the beginning of the library as the papers and books gathered to write the nineteen volumes needed a home during and after the project. At the same time, papers were given to the library, often by the families, after the death of an individual. All of these papers are a great asset to the library because they provide detailed accounts of the lives and careers of the leading men and women in the community, as well as unique records of the history of the Schwenkfelders and Pennsylvania Germans. However, most of these collections have yet to be inventoried in a proper, archival sense; more troublesome is that many papers have yet to be properly sorted or even identified.

As a result of the size of the collections (in relation to the small size and limited time of the staff) the organization and, in some cases, the condition has been ignored and has deteriorated. Prior to the 2001 renovation, many of these papers were stored in the basement storage area known as the “Cave” or they were stored in the attic of the Carnegie library at the Perkiomen School. Due to the less than ideal conditions of this storage some papers were damaged. Nonetheless, the majority of the papers survived intact and are in good condition. The bigger problem has been that the papers were often placed into boxes without proper identification and, therefore, during and after the 2001 renovation they were quickly boxed up, then unpacked and re-boxed in acid free containers and hastily labeled. Since then it has taken all these years to finally turn my attention to figuring out exactly to whom the papers belong. Without proper labeling I have to rely on other clues such as handwriting or context to determine the creator. Sometimes I simply have to guess. As you can image it is at times a slow and frustrating process.

So far I have done rough inventories on sixty-six collections. Though it is moving faster than I expected there is still a long way to go in this stage. The next stage is to do detailed archival inventories which will be much more time consuming, but will help us better understand just exactly what we have been storing for all these years.

Hunt Schenkel – Archivist

 

 

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