It is with deep regret and a profound sadness that we inform you of the death of our President, Rob Lukens, PhD, August 1st, following a long fight with cancer.
Rob became our President in 2011, although his association with the Chester County Historical Society began in 1993, over twenty years ago when Rob helped catalog, pack, and move museum objects as a volunteer during his undergraduate studies. Later, he was an intern at CCHS and then became our Collections Manager in 1998. Rob left CCHS in 2003 to become the Head of Collections at the Chemical Heritage Foundation. His career then took him to Historic Yellow Springs and the United States Capitol Visitors Center before bringing him back to the Historical Society, ready to lead the institution that he loved so much.
Rob brought passion and a commitment to share Chester County’s history with the community beyond the walls of CCHS. He initiated a regular column in the Daily Local News, a weekly radio program on WCHE, and the extremely popular History on Tap series. His leadership brought much needed upgrades to our facilities and continuing plans for their improvement. Throughout his illness he remained committed to CCHS, especially in developing plans for our new permanent exhibition.
George Zumbano, Chair of the CCHS Board of Trustees, spoke for all of us when he said that “Rob Lukens made an indelible mark on the Chester County Historical Society. It was a pleasure and an honor to work with him. His enthusiasm for our region’s history was contagious, and he brought a level of professional expertise that helped us move forward in innovative ways.”
Rob was a devoted father, husband, son, brother, uncle, friend, and colleague. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Becky, his two children Abbie and Finn, and his entire family during this difficult time.
Mr. Zumbano announced that David B. Reinfeld, who has served as Acting President of CCHS for the last two years, has been named Interim President. “David has done a remarkable job throughout this difficult time, and we are confident that CCHS remains in good hands.”
The Chester County Historical Society Board of Trustees, staff members, and volunteers are grateful for the time that we had with Rob, and we will miss him dearly. His work, which is our work, will continue.
Funeral details: Relatives and friends are invited to attend the funeral service at 10 am on Thursday, August 6, 2015 at Calvary Chapel, 500 Brandywine Dr., Chadds Ford PA 19317. The family will receive guests from 6 to 9 pm on Wednesday, August 5 at the church. Interment is private.
Memorial contributions may be made to Chester County Historical Society, 225 N. High St., West Chester, PA 19380 or educational funds which have been established for Abbie and Finn through DNB Investments & Insurance. For information on making contributions to the educational funds, please contact DNB Investments & Insurance at 484.359.3583.
1816: The Year Without a Summer
True – the winter of 2013-2014 was absolutely miserable. But imagine if, here in the month of April, snows still fell and frosts persisted through the summer.
On Saturday, March 8, 2014, the Chester County Historical Society (CCHS) hosted hundreds of students from Chester and Delaware Counties during its annual Regional National History Day (NHD) competition. Coincidentally, the event fell on International Women's Day and occurred in Women's History Month, spotlighting the dozens of students who presented projects on women's history topics.
In September 1925, an unassuming young seventeen-year-old packed his bags for college, hopped in his parents’ car, and took a ride from his native Maryland to Lincoln University in southern Chester County. Twenty-nine years later, this man helped topple the "separate but equal" legal foundation of racial discrimination and lat
The past is full of mysteries. There is one that's been stuck in the back of my mind for years.
If you walk into CCHS’s current feature exhibition, Profiles: Chester County Clothing of the 1800s, you will immediately be struck by an explosion of colors, shapes and sizes. Hidden among the fancy dresses and coats is an unassuming dress that one might miss at first glance.
Wherever I've gone, architect Thomas U. Walter, the “Dean of American Architects,” was there too.
If you look in the history books to read about Santa Claus, you'll discover a tale that is millennia old and involved countless people in the making. Harkening from fourth-century Turkey, a monk named St. Nicholas became legendary for his kindness.
When most people think of Chester County's history, they think of rolling fields, the Underground Railroad, and the American Revolution. But Chester County is not just farms and cannonballs. Its heritage includes a vast technological revolution that influenced the modern world.
Washington never slept here, but his furniture maker did.
As we approach the Fourth of July, between the fireworks, barbecues, and parades, stop for a moment to remember Hazel Johnson-Brown. On June 14th, 33 years ago on Flag Day in 1979, she became the first black woman general in the entire history of the U.S. military. Brown, who passed away in 2011, was born and raised right here in Chester County.
As we celebrate Black History Month, a number of well-known Civil Rights figures typically come to mind - Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Thurgood Marshall, and many others. Although they deserve their acclaim, February 2012 is the perfect time to reflect on Bayard Rustin, Chester County's own Civil Rights hero, during the centennial of his birth.
The naming of institutions after individuals is a powerful thing. It ensures that we don't forget the great people of the past. In the case of the northern Chester County's Owen J. Roberts School District and associated schools, it worked. The former West Vincent Township resident and Supreme Court Justice's name is revered in perpetuity.
If you lived in Chester County 235 years ago, you might have witnessed key moments of the American Revolution. Huge swaths of the county saw troop movements, encampments, and even battles through September 1777 and beyond.
Visionaries Created the Chester County Archives
Nearly 150 years ago, Chester Countian Uriah Hunt Painter was exactly where he wanted to be –in the middle of one of the biggest battles in American history, the Battle of Gettysburg.
When it comes to the materials of our past, one Chester County publishing company has had it figured out for decades. From furniture and textiles to toys and Christmas ornaments, for nearly forty years, Schiffer Publishing has produced thousands of books that teach us our history through objects.
It is the time of year where toys, books, and games have just taken center stage. Characters like Elmo, Barbie, and the Teenage Mutant Turtles have graced our circulars, television sets, and store shelves since...well, September!
The year was 1820 and the nation was grappling with the issue of slavery like never before. The admittance of new states forced the issue before Congress, which sought to balance power between free and slave states.
Imagine the year is 1825. You are a 31-year-old mother, pregnant with your sixth child. You've already lost two children in infancy. Your husband has struggled for a dozen years to build an iron-making business in the rolling backcountry of Chester County on the banks of Brandywine Creek. Suddenly he dies, leaving you alone.
Graceanna Lewis was born in 1821 into a remarkable Quaker family in West Vincent Township. Her father was a well known abolitionist. Her mother was a talented teacher.
If you needed underwear in 1957, you may have hopped on a trolley, train, or jumped in your car to go to J.C. Penney, Montgomery Ward, or Sears Roebuck. Chances are, if you were a man, you would have purchased underwear made right here in Chester County - Spring City to be more exact - at the Spring City Knitting Company on the banks of the Schuylkill River.
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FOR NEARLY 25 YEARS, the Chester County Historical Society (CCHS) has hosted an innovative program that has positively changed thousands of young lives—National History Day.
In the 1820s, a chemist by the name of Isaac Tyson Jr. made a serendipitous discovery that would change the course of industrial history. At a busy market in Baltimore, Tyson watched a man drive a cart holding a barrel that was propped on some peculiar rocks. Tyson, who already operated a modest chromite mine near Baltimore, recognized the material as chromite.
When Margaret and Thomas C. Willcox purchased their Birchrunville, West Vincent, home about 20 years ago, they were drawn by the quaint setting and historic character. Thomas, a builder, and Margaret, now a real estate agent, had no idea that their house was once home to a man who changed the medical trajectory of the world.