Penn’s Pen: Stay in School

As children get ready to return to school, let’s take a look at Penn’s vision for schooling his own children.  This is from a letter to his wife Gulielma written as he prepared to leave for America 1682.  He is setting everything in order, just in case “I should never see you more in this world”:

 For their learning, be liberal.  Spare no cost, for by such parsimony all is lost that is saved; but let it be useful knowledge, such as consistent with truth and godliness, not cherishing a vain conversation or idle mind, but ingenuity mixed with industry is good for the body and mind too.  I recommend the useful parts of mathematics, as building houses or ships, measuring, surveying, dialing*, navigation, etc.; but agriculture is especially in my eye.  Let my children by husbandmen and housewives.  It is industrious, healthy, honest and of good example…It is commendable in the princes of Germany, and [the] nobles of that empire, that they have all their children instructed in some useful occupation.  Rather keep an ingenious person in the house to teach them than send them to schools, too many evil impressions being commonly received there.  Be sure to observe their genius and don’t cross it as to learning.  Let them not dwell too long on one thing, but let their change be agreeable, and all their diversions have some little bodily labor in them.

 *surveying under ground, as in a mine


Written by Mary Ellyn Kunz, Museum Educator


A Country Life: Take a Whiff of THAT! (Part 3)

In the third post for our new series The Country Life, we continue our look into the Kitchen Garden’s herb collection (check out our posts on Lemon Balm and Rosemary).  Here is one of my favorites… 


Lavender (Lavandula): Visitors will often recognize this herb’s soft, purple flowers and many will welcome the chance to smell it. Colonists also enjoyed lavender’s scent and used it as a perfume for clothing. They also recognized the value of aromatherapy. Lavender’s aroma was used to ease headaches and “giddiness.” The plant’s flowers, leaves, and seeds were also consumed to ward off fainting and joint pain.


By Danielle Lehr, 2011 Summer Intern

Confessions of a Costumier: Please STAY!

I just read a great article from the blog Two Nerdy History Girls that I just had to share.  This is an interesting (and usually well-researched) blog written by a couple historical fiction writers, and it’s always a good read for those who enjoy learning about historical clothing and lifestyle.
The article that inspired me to post is on 18th-century ladies’ stays and how to lace them.  Follow this link to see their article, which features images of a Colonial Williamsburg interpreter putting on her own stays!  For anyone who has tried wearing REAL stays (not those torturous Victorian corsets), getting into them is the most difficult part.  But once you’ve done it a few times, it gets much easier and FASTER – I’m speaking from my own recent experience!! 
The images above and below are of my first attempt to make stays using a pattern from Reconstructing History.  They are definitely amateur, full boned with a mixture of metal and reed pieces.  I also made slight changes to the pattern, and we are working on resolving But they work and have held up admirably, and if someone who had been sewing for less than 6 months could do this, ANYONE CAN. 
Trust me ladies, the time spent getting into your stays is worth it for two reasons: 1) in my opinion, they are actually comfortable and give some great back support, and 2) it completely CHANGES how you look and move in your period clothing.  I will offer up myself on the altar of the Guinea Pig.  Check these shots of me in my modern “foundation garments” and then with my circa 1700 Stays…
See the difference!  It changes your silhouette completely!!  In my stays, suddenly the gowns that WERE hard to find in my size and felt  awkward to wear became the right size and a good fit!  I can’t encourage you enough to try them. You will notice a difference in how you feel, how you walk, stand, sit… and the visitor will notice too.
Pennsbury is starting to make our own stays and will slowly be increasing our collection.  They will be partly-boned with bendable reeds, so that interpreter and craft demonstrators will have the flexibility they need to move and work.  In fact, we will eventually have enough for all female volunteers to be able to wear stays!  Our standards for researched authenticity have always been high, and we’re working hard and taking our clothing program to the next level.   You all work so hard to learn your informative talks and trade skills… our clothing volunteers want you to know you’re dressed in well-researched and well-made reproductions!!  
Stay tuned for more posts on stays and other new clothing items in the collection!
Written by Hannah Howard, Volunteer Coordinator and Amateur Costumier!

Exploring the Artifacts: English Maps

Continuing our exploration of 17th-century maps (see my last featurette here), we look at yet another map in the Manor House:

Map of Buckinghamshire

 by Danielle Straub

In the Manor House’s Withdrawing Room, there is a map on the far wall across from the rope. This map is small and hard to see from across the room, but up close one can see vibrant colors and beautiful ornamentation. I wanted to point this map out because not only is it beautiful, but also because it is an interesting specimen of maps from the 1600’s.  Be sure and click on the images to open a larger view.

I mentioned in the last Featurette characteristics of older maps, if some may recall, which I will be using again in this article. Our map is of Buckinghamshire in England, from 1610. Since this map is 100 years older than our Pennsylvania map (also seen in the last Featurette, follow link above to view), we can see more decoration and the use of mythical creatures.

To begin, in the center of the map is the main map of Buckinghamshire. Noted on the map are man-made features such as towns, cites, and bridges. The towns and cites are marked by a symbol of small buildings with a red dot of watercolor over it. Our mapmaker seemed to use red and yellow watercolors more than the others! These colors are splashed across the crests, fleur de lis, and well-inked lions. Getting back to the central map, the natural features that we placed on the map include hills, mountains, trees, and rivers. The shape of the hills and mountains appear to be anywhere from a bump to a rounded peak, while rivers are a consistent bold line. The trees stand alone at places or are placed in clusters as well on the map.

At the top corners are inset boxes. The box on the left is of Buckinghamshire and on the right is Redding. These insets are like mini maps to important cities and include their own compass, distance scale, crest, and key. They show the roads, river, groups of buildings, fields, and is decorated with oversized farmers and their animals. The key is for the street names which each have a corresponding letter or number on the map. The inset of Redding also labels the South Giles Church and the school in Redding.

Lastly, in the bottom corners are arches. These arches have titles held up above them by two cupids. In the arch on the left is the King’s crest and below are crossed lances and flags with a crown. Across the lances is a banner which reads “UNION”. In the arch on the right are four crests with the title of “The Armes of thofe Honorable Families which have born ye Titles of Buckingha(m)”. The family crests include those of “Walter Gifford Earle, Richard Stanbowe E., Thomas of Wodftoke E., and Humfr. Stafforde Duke”. This map is beautiful and was a symbol of pride for these families to be from Buckinghamshire. If you ever get a chance to see it close up, please go view and enjoy it.



**A big THANK YOU to Danielle Straub for her work on these summer featurettes and helping our curator Todd with his work in Pennsbury’s archives!**

A Country Life: Take a Whiff of THAT! (Part 2)

In the second post for our new series The Country Life, we continue our look into the Kitchen Garden’s herb collections (check out our post on Lemon Balm).  Here is one you’ll probably recognize… 

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis): Recognizable by its needle-like leaves, rosemary had many uses in the 17th century. In the kitchen, cooks could use rosemary to flavor meats (like we do today). Medicinally, its savory aroma was used to ease a headache and to improve one’s memory. Additionally, vapors resulting from steaming the herb could be used to cure an earache and the leaves could be smoked to ease a cough.


By Danielle Lehr, 2011 Summer Intern