AHM Internship – Week 5

I was able to travel this week during my internship. I got to visit the Lackawanna Historical Society and the Times Tribune building in Scranton. The Lackawanna Historical Society was very interesting as it is an early 20th century house and it doubles as a museum as a research center. It seemed weird to be doing research in an old kitchen.  The Times Tribune was probably my favorite as I have never been inside a newspaper office. I was surprised to learn that it looks just like it would on TV, with a floor of several cubicles and phones constantly ringing.

The purpose of my trips were to look for photographs for the exhibit. The ones that I obtained were very interesting as they picture mine cave-ins and and mine fires.


Two of the most interesting were the ones I obtained from the Times Tribune. They feature a search of a mine accident. Women and children were gathered waiting to see if they’re husbands and fathers were going to come up alive or dead. This was everyday life in Northeastern Pennsylvania in the 20th century. This section of the new exhibit is going to be my favorite as it really focuses in on the dangers of mining.

AHM Internship – Week 4

This week at AHM I did more manual labor than I probably will do my whole internship. After contacting and setting up appointments with various outside sources for photographs to include in the new exhibit, I  put my painting skills to use and began working inside the exhibit.


To get ahead of some of the renovation that needs to be done in the exhibit space, I began painting the borders around the top of walls. This included spending a great deal of time on a later, trying not to get paint all over the place. While the final color for the exhibit needs to be chosen, getting some of this work done now will help down the road as we need to give the room at least forty-eight hours to dry and be able to use.


In a week, it will be officially two months before the exhibit is set to open and the anticipation is building within everyone at AHM and inside myself. After working on this exhibit for so long and seeing the pieces come together, I cannot wait to see the final product.



AHM Internship – Week 3

My latest week at Anthracite Heritage Museum saw the end of an era. The last artifact located within the current exhibit space from the last exhibit was finally broken down and packed for shipment. Inside the previous exhibit, stood a large gatling gun that was used by the PA State Militia.



During the Anthracite Coal Strike of 1902, the PA State Militia offered prominent security figures to keep chaos from breaking out during negotiations. This specific artifact was on loan from the PHMC Military Museum for the last 16 years. I was able to assist in the work that took place such as packing the wheels. 


During this we found an amazing discovery; one wheel was shorter than the others and thus not an original. This was not known to anyone, including the Curator of AHM as everyone thought that each wheel was the same! After marking this discovery down in the condition reports, I helped to pack the items in their respective crates. The gatling gun will be officially leaving at the end of the month, marking the official end to the previous exhibit and the beginning of the new one.











AHM Internship – Week 2

My second week at Anthracite was very interesting. We received an inquiry from a person trying to learn about his family’s history in the mines. Through this, I learned how to trace a mine company’s history by using data books published by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor. These books trace the mine companies that were in operation for that year, where their mine was located, how much they produced, how much they shipped, and any accidents and how many victims, if any. Using the mine company’s name and time period he provided, I was able to research the mine company’s history. Using the data books, I was able to speculate the company’s opening year and it’s closing year.  I was able to also able to track where the company moved when it closed a specific location and other details. I was very happy when I completed this inquiry as I was able to use limited information and tell a story about this specific company. I hope that this information will help advance the individual in his search for his family’s history.

It’s also time to start preparing the exhibit hall for the new photography exhibit!

AHM Internship – Week 1

My first week interning at Anthracite Heritage Museum was spent learning about some the operational duties that occur during the course of running of a museum. Maintaining archives and constantly updating them is an important task and one that I am happy to experience throughout this semester. However, this is something I will not finish as it takes time and I will only be able to work on it when I’m not working on the new exhibit AHM is currently working on. It could take years to fully update archives in an museum due to the vastness of their collections. I learned that I will also participate in other projects such as “Railfest 2018” which is a celebration of railroads and anthracite history in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I helped conduct a vendor table, explaining some of the work AHM does and some of the upcoming events such as the opening of the new exhibit. I was happy to participate, as I was able to meet other organizations in the area and learn about some their programs, like the Lackawanna Historical Society, and Lackawanna Community Library in Taylor. I cannot wait to learn what exciting opportunities AHM offers me during my time there.

SURF project summary- AHM exhibit

In the summer of 2018, Sarah Sporko received a fellowship through Misericordia’s SURF program to assist Dr. Black with a photography exhibit she was preparing for the Anthracite Heritage Museum in Scranton, PA, a PHMC-sponsored institution.  Below are some excerpts from Sarah’s final presentation to the Misericordia community in August, 2018.

Photographers of the Anthracite Coal Region
By: Sarah Sporko

I worked in collaboration with Dr. Black and a team at Anthracite Heritage Museum to produce an exhibit on labor photography, currently titled “Anthracite Photographers and Photographers of Anthracite.” This will be replacing an exhibit that was installed in 2002.  The exhibit will feature photographers from the Anthracite Coal Regions as well as several photographers that were not from the Region. It will also feature personal photographs.  The work is still continuing and will be completed towards the end of November / early December when the exhibit opens.

Here are some of the responsibilities I had during the project:

  • Research information on Lewis Hine and Labor Photography
  • Research Rights and Reproduction permissions from Library of Congress and other organizations
  • Research and compose biographies for photographers
  • Take Down existing exhibit and prepare area for new exhibit
  • Create layouts for photographs along with labels according to PHMC guidelines

Throughout the project, I learned many things, including:

  • More historical information about the Anthracite Coal Region
  • Research Skills
  • How to collaborate with other people on projects
  • How to work with a government-run nonprofit
  • Curatorial Work
  • How to produce an exhibit (i.e. what is involved)
  • More about myself (How this affects my future)