Pennsylvania History Presents” is an online feature of the Pennsylvania Historical Association’s (PHA) website. Begun in 2019, we offer for free public access one article from the current issue of its quarterly award-winning journal, Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies.

For the Winter 2024 issue (91.2), Journal Editor Linda Ries has chosen for “Pennsylvania History Presents” an article by Brian Zang, a historian and folklorist with a Ph.D. in American Studies from Penn State Harrisburg. 

Abstract: This essay analyzes the material culture and sources relating to the history of Brown’s Mill School in Franklin County. It outlines the school’s construction, intended use, and its perception in memory. Brown’s Mill School’s architecture portrays several themes. Despite the growing separation between church and state, these themes included the community’s roots in family and religious instruction as well as the new progressively egalitarian democratic and republican institutions of the state. Originally called “Trinity” School, the school represents an interesting departure from larger democratic trends. The people of Antrim Township championed ecumenical ideals, showing that not all communities had the same outlook on how to separate church and state, or more importantly, how not to. Having one room for a schoolhouse that served multiple civil functions in a village emphasizes how rural communities sought to include the institutions of the church, the home, and the state in one unified whole.