This past Tuesday at the Anthracite Heritage Museum I took a tour around the exhibit to gain an understanding of the different areas of the exhibit. The exhibit has different sections that take visitors into different points in this area’s mining history. For instance in a section of the exhibit titled “A Lifetime of Work”, there are displays of miners with terrible injuries, an example of a doctor’s examination room during the 1800s, different assortment of medical tools, and so on. These displays are meant to highlight the dangers of working in the mines and what medical equipment was available to heal any injuries inflicted on the miners. However, not every injury the miners suffered could be cured with the medical equipment at that time due to the loss of limbs and the limited ability of the equipment in that time period.
On my tour around the exhibit, I was informed about an important aspect of it, which is the many individuals that came from overseas to Northeast Pennsylvania for the anthracite business. Thus, there are displays of flyers, event postings, festivals, etc. created to honor a specific ethnic heritage in order for immigrants to maintain their cultural identity. For instance, a German festival in Northeast Pennsylvania that is still around today named Oktoberfest, which was celebrated originally in Munich, Germany. The many cultures that came to Northeast Pennsylvania was largely due to the mining jobs that were available, and the idea that many immigrants could make a better life for themselves. Therefore, the many immigrants’ will to maintain their cultural identity in Northeast Pennsylvania is an important part of the museum.
Later on in the day, I shadowed a tour led by a volunteer at the museum who informed a group of fourth grade students about the tools miners used, facts about anthracite coal, the jobs that women and young girls had, the structure of a late nineteenth century home, etc. I shadowed a tour because a part of the internship is doing tours with groups of individuals. Afterward, I read information on the different artifacts in the museum, the history of the anthracite business in Northeast Pennsylvania, and different brochures on ways the public can support the museum. In the next few weeks, I anticipate to begin doing some tours after shadowing a few more tours and working on my poster project on cultural identity, which will explore how Lithuanian immigrants in the US strove to support Lithuanians when the Soviet Union occupied Lithuania.