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Strange Colonial Cures

This blog post is an adaptation of the presentation for the Morgan Log House’s History Happy Hour on Friday, July 12, titled “Weird Cures and What They Do.” Our History Happy Hours are tied in with our temporary exhibit, “Leeches, Purging, and Magic: the Care and Healing of the Colonial Body,” on display at the Morgan Log House until the end of December. Our third History Happy Hour will be on Friday, August 16 at 7 p.m. and will look at folk magic and healing. You can purchase tickets for it here. Colonial Medicine: a Very Brief Introduction First a note on colonial medicine. Much of eighteenth century medicine was based on the idea that illness needed to be removed from the body. This could happen through bloodletting, forced vomiting, blistering, enemas, sweating, or by contact with objects that could transfer sickness from a person’s body. Medical care could be done by a wide array of people. Medical doctors received training, but encountering one was rare outside of cities. Other medical practitioners ranged were someone who could read a book and hold a knife, someone who worked with a doctor for a season, a clergyman, a midwife, an herbalist, a parent (most often a mother), or a practitioner of magic.  This blog post looks at some of the more colorful cures that were attempted. It’s important to remember that, while from our modern understanding they might not medically work, for people in the eighteenth century these were viewed as viable options for medical care. Many had aspects that worked (or at least alleviated symptoms). Others may have worked because... read more

We Love Our Volunteers!

The Morgan Log House has had strong volunteer support since the 1970s when it was saved from suburban development. Township officials and local leaders and residents raised funds and awareness of the historic house to allow for its 1973-1976 restoration. The house later opened as a historic house museum. Volunteers have been involved with events and interpreting the house for visitors for over 40 years. Volunteers range in age from students to seniors citizens with a wide background from nursing to education. Our annual events Dirty Attic, Creepy Cellar, Military Might, Tavern Night, Mayhem, and Candlelight tours have been local favorites that are strongly supported by our volunteers. Volunteers are involved in many aspects of the museum including the gift shop, museum interpretations, behind-the-scenes of setting up and tearing down events, assisting with new exhibits and collections.  The museum has also had involvement with student internships and scouts. Students have worked with staff to scan old slides into the museum’s digital image collection, organize our library, and help us with our museum archives For several years, Boy Scouts have visited the site, taken tours, and completed their Eagle Award projects. These projects included completion of the front stone walkway, a side walkway, signage, painting, and a hops garden. We are currently working with the Eastern Pennsylvania Girl Scout Council to involve local Girl Scouts with the museum. If you are interested in participating and helping the Morgan Log House with its mission, feel free to contact us via email info@morganloghouse.org, phone (215)368-2480, or stop in during operating hours, Thursday through Saturday 10am to 3pm and Sunday 12pm to 3pm... read more

5 Reasons to Visit the Morgan Log House Before the End of the Year

Maybe we’re a little biased, but we think that the Morgan Log House is a local historic gem just waiting to be discovered! Need convincing on making a visit? Here are just a couple of reasons why: 1.) A Hidden Gem with Unheard Stories We all know the big stories of American history: of founding fathers in powdered wigs fighting for freedom—but what about everyone else? What happened in your own backyard? The Morgan Log House shows the Revolutionary era in ways you might not have heard: the experiences of local Mennonites, of immigrants, and of the Welsh who settled here. 2.) History is Exciting! Think history is just a boring subject you slept through in school? Think again! History is connected to our world in more ways than we realize—why is that road called that? Why do we do the things we do? People cooked on what? Went to the bathroom where? We live in the legacy of history—explore it! 3.) History is Fun for All Ages Exploring a local historic site like the Morgan Log House can be fun for each member of your family. Mom interested in architecture? The Log House is a fascinating and unique eighteenth century home. Dad learning how to cook? Learning about hearth cooking might be a great inspiration to get our and grill.  Kids hate their chores? Learning how eighteenth century kids did their chores might make that all better—and give everyone some laughs! It’s a great learning experience to take part in as a family. 4.) The Morgan Log House Has Fun Holiday Programming The Morgan Log House has all... read more

History in Your Closet: Military Might and Personal Collections

By: Tim Betz, Executive Director, Morgan Log House, May 2017 This May 27th, the Morgan Log House will be holding its annual Military Might day. The event is meant to educate and provide a way to remember the sacrifices that Americans, throughout our nation’s history, made for their county through the nation’s various wars, from the American Revolution to the present day. It features reenactors, demonstrations, and artifact displays. Many of the artifact displays are from personal collections. I thought, as the new Executive Director here, I would use this Log Blog to talk about a family collection of my own, my thoughts as I went through it, and what people reading this can do with their important, personal and family collections. My grandfather served on a destroyer escort, the U.S.S. Gosselin, during the Second World War in the Pacific. The ship was launched in 1944 and was named after Ensign Edward W. Gosselin, who died on the U.S.S. Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbor.  It was part of a convoy throughout the Pacific, where it shot down Japanese planes off Okinawa and saved survivors from the wreckage of kamikaze destroyed ships (which my grandfather always talked about with a sense of dread that only comes from horrific lived experience). The Gosselin was one of the first ships into Tokyo Bay before the surrender, having carried press and Naval photographers into Tokyo on August 27, 1945. On September 2, the Gosselin carried press representatives to the U.S.S. Missouri for the surrender ceremonies that ended the War. Later, the Gosselin and its crew liberated and evacuated prisoners of war... read more

An Exhibit is Like An Iceberg: Making “How It’s Made: Furnishing the Log House”

While the museum has been closed these last couple months, we’ve been hard at work on getting ready for the upcoming season. Among the many great fun and educational programs and events is our annual temporary exhibit. This year’s temporary exhibit is called “How It’s Made: Furnishing the Log House.” This Log Blog post will look at the process that went into planning the exhibit—a how it’s made of How It’s Made. The exhibit was partly inspired by probate records, which show an unparalleled look into the things that were in people’s homes at the time of their death. Another inspiration was the fact that while very often people see objects in a museum, they rarely hear about how they would have been made—an experience which would have been very different for people living here in the Log House in the eighteenth century. The collection of eighteenth and nineteenth century domestic items that housed at the Morgan Log House is very expansive, including many examples of textiles, furniture, books, and ephemera. A set of criteria was selected for the objects:  they had to tell a story that connected the Morgan Log House to the wider world and they had to have a connection to the modern day. Choosing objects is the hard part of the exhibit—it’s where part of the curating comes in. The boundaries of the historical story that you want to tell with an exhibit are set based on the objects that are inside. “How It’s Made” tells a story of domestic life, but domestic life for the families that would have lived here. Farm tools are... read more

From the New Executive Director

I thought I would use my first Log Blog post as a way to introduce myself to you, the Morgan Log House community. I’ve only spent a short time here so far, as I started working with the new year. Already, though, I can tell that this is a very special place and am excited to be a part of it. The history of the log house itself is fascinating and is connected to the fabric of our nation. The local story is the story of huddled colonists, scrappy revolutionaries, and those seeking opportunity on the shores of the New World that helped make our country what it is today. I’m excited for a chance to delve deeper into that history and to share it with the community. I’ve also been impressed with the people I’ve encountered here: volunteers who dedicate so much of themselves to making sure that the Log House continues to be a place where history comes alive. I can already tell that the Morgan Log House could not exist without them. Nor could it exist without the community that it serves, which have given generously throughout the organization’s history. I’m looking forward to working with the Log House’s volunteers and the community, and getting to know everyone. The Log House is really a family: and I’m glad and proud to now be a part of it. I’m coming to the Log House from the Red Mill Museum Village where I served as Curator of Public Programs before becoming Assistant Director. Additionally, I come with a newly minted Masters Degree in History from Lehigh University, where... read more