Sunday, February 23, 2014

Celebrate Pennsylvania’s 333rd Birthday with Free Admission to PA Trails of History Sites and Museums

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) invites Pennsylvania residents and visitors to celebrate the commonwealth’s 333rd birthday on Charter Day, Sunday, March 9, with free admission to many historic sites and museums along the Pennsylvania Trails of History®.

Charter Day celebrates the founding of Pennsylvania.  The special day gives visitors a rare opportunity to see the original Charter of Pennsylvania written in 1681. England’s King Charles II used the charter to grant the land that is now Pennsylvania to founder William Penn. It is sometimes referred to as Pennsylvania’s “birth certificate” and was Penn’s personal copy.

This year the Penn Charter will be on display at William Penn’s home, Pennsbury Manor in Morrisville, Bucks County. This is the first time since 1960 the document has been exhibited outside of Harrisburg.  It will be displayed at Pennsbury Manor for one week only, from March 9 to March 16, 2014.

“The charter is a tangible link to Pennsylvania’s founding,” said James M. Vaughan, PHMC executive director. “The fragile historical document is exhibited only once a year and for a very short time — usually at The State Museum in Harrisburg. Staff at Pennsbury and the Pennsylvania State Archives have worked very diligently to make this special exhibition possible.”

Visitors to Pennsbury Manor will be admitted free from 1 to 4 p.m. on Charter Day. The charter will be on display and visitors can tour the picturesque 43-acre site. The charter exhibition coincides with Pennsbury Manor’s 75th anniversary celebration.

Pennsbury Manor is a reconstruction of William Penn’s country estate overlooking the Delaware River. The reconstruction, based upon archeological investigations, written documents and research of the period, was opened to the public in 1939.

In Harrisburg, The State Museum will present a host of exhibits and activities celebrating Charter Day. Museum admission is free and includes visits to the Curiosity Connection, Planetarium and galleries. Special tours will be led by Harrisburg Sci-Tech High students.  A rare draft of the original 1681 charter will be displayed.

Guests can meet “William Penn,” portrayed by William C. Kashatus, and hear tales of bygone days told by storyteller “Pennsylvania Jack,” performed by John T. Graham.  The Victorian Dance Ensemble will also perform.

PHMC staff and professionals from the region’s many historical societies will also be available to answer questions.  Pennsylvania’s 2013 National History Day winners will also attend.

In addition to programming at Pennsbury Manor and The State Museum, many historic sites and museums along PHMC’s Trails of History will offer free admission on March 9, 2014.

Participating museums and historic sites include:

For more information on Charter Day 2014 and the Pennsylvania Trails of History visit

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