Lenwood Sloan, Deputy Secretary for the
Pennsylvania Department of Commerce and Economic Development’s (PCED)
Tourism and Marketing Bureau, Debra McCauslin, representing Historic
Gettysburg Adams County and Wayne Motts, executive director of the Adams
County Historical Society gather at an Underground Railroad Colloquium at
the John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh to discuss Adams County’s role
in promoting the Underground Railroad.
(8/14) Promoting the people and places involved in the
Underground Railroad throughout Pennsylvania was the topic of the
state-sponsored Underground Railroad Colloquium held on August 11 and 12 in
Pittsburgh. Adams County had representation from Wayne Motts, Adams County
Historical Society’s executive director and Debra McCauslin, board member of
Historic Gettysburg Adams County (HGAC).
Speakers participating in the colloquium included V.
Chapman Smith of the National Archives, Dr. Howard Dodson of the Schomburg
Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City and Barbara Franco,
Executive Director of the PA Historical and Museum Commission.
Smith described the Underground Railroad as," A
complicated yet interesting story of community conflict. It was about
law-abiding citizens and courageous people who took a risk to help others. It’s
a story of safe houses, daring freedom-fighters, freedom-seekers and also about
those who were left behind."
Participants learned strategies for marketing the
Underground Railroad on a local level. They were encouraged to package, promote
and interpret people and places connected with the Underground Railroad to
encourage visitation. Smith encouraged attendees to make their displays and
programs interactive with an emphasis on reaching youth so that school groups
are attracted to the communities for learning experiences and field trips.
Developing curriculum which can be used to further the learning experience was
HGAC recently nominated three sites to the National
Park Service’s National Network to Freedom. They are hopeful that the African
American church and cemetery on Biglerville’s Yellow Hill, the Menallen Friends
and Huntington Friends Meetinghouse’s cemeteries will be approved to be added
to the Network. HGAC’s Preservation Committee under the direction of Curt
Musselman took the lead in this effort to promote the Adams County
freedom-fighters. HGAC contracted consultant Randolph Harris of Mt. Joy to
submit the nominations with assistance by McCauslin, a local historian who
wrote a book about her research of a pre-Civil War African-American community
that lived near Biglerville and the Quakers of Menallen Township. McCauslin
serves on the HGAC Preservation Committee and the Board of Directors. Plans are
underway to nominate more sites in Adams County to the Network to Freedom as
there are several other sites which deserve recognition.
For more information on the Underground Railroad in
Adams County, contact Historic Gettysburg Adams County at 334-5185 or visit the
Adams County Historical Society located on Gettysburg’s Seminary Ridge.