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Lehigh hosts Pennsylvania Historical Association meeting



Historian Gabor Boritt, shown here at Gettysburg National Cemetery, will speak on “A Hungarian Historian, Abraham Lincoln, and the Gettysburg Address.”

When the Pennsylvania Historical Association (PHA) convened at the Hotel Bethlehem for its first annual meeting in 1933, a single room with a bath cost $2 a night and dinner at the hotel could be purchased for $1.25 a plate.

On Oct. 16 -18, it will cost considerably more than $3.25 for a room and a meal as the PHA gathers at the Hotel Bethlehem to celebrate its 75th anniversary meeting. Lehigh University will host the PHA meeting, as it did in 1933 when Lawrence H. Gipson, a Lehigh history professor, helped found it.

This year, Lehigh’s annual lecture series on the Civil War will dovetail with the PHA meeting. One of the foremost scholars on Abraham Lincoln will present the eighth George Harmon Lecture Series on Thursday, Oct. 16 at 7:30 p.m. in Whitaker Auditorium. The lecture is free and open to the public.

“That way, we can share the excitement with students, faculty and staff of Lehigh University as well as members of the community,” says Jean Soderlund, deputy provost and co-chair of the local arrangements committee.

From Budapest to Gettysburg

Gabor Boritt’s lecture, “A Hungarian Historian, Abraham Lincoln, and the Gettysburg Address,” may draw not only from America’s past but from Boritt’s own history—beginning with his childhood in World War II Hungary.

The Nazis forced Boritt and his family to live in a single room in a hospital where the floor was stained with blood. As a teenager, Boritt fled from Budapest to America after participating in the 1956 uprising against the Soviet-controlled government in Hungary.

Today, Boritt’s floors are still stained with blood. His restored 18th-century farmhouse had served as both a haven to slaves escaping on the Underground Railroad and a hospital to Confederate soldiers injured in the Battle of Gettysburg. Boritt now teaches at Gettysburg College, where he is the Robert Fluhrer Professor of Civil War Studies and director of the Civil War Institute.

Boritt’s lecture will include a brief clip from an upcoming documentary film titled Budapest to Gettysburg that recounts Boritt’s journey from war-torn Europe to the Gettysburg Battlefield.

Lehigh takes center stage

During the PHA meeting, which is expected to draw more than 100 historians to Bethlehem, several Lehigh University students and two professors will present their research and discuss Pennsylvania’s role in history:

• William Shade, emeritus professor of history, “Still a Keystone? 20th Century Pennsylvania Politics: A Roundtable” Friday, Oct. 17, at 9:30 a.m. in the Grand Ballroom, the Hotel Bethlehem.

• John K. Smith, professor of history, “Professionalizing Public Health in Bethlehem, 1918-1940” Friday, Oct. 17, at 1:45 p.m. in the Lehigh Room, the Hotel Bethlehem.

• Holly M. Kent, doctoral candidate, “’Writing to Take the Place of Talking’: The Diary of Mary Holland Rice” Friday, Oct. 17, at 1:45 p.m. in the Northampton Room, the Hotel Bethlehem

• Kelli Oliver, who has her master’s degree in history and is now project manager in the provost’s office, “The Evolution of St. Luke’s Hospital, 1873-1900” Friday, Oct. 17, at 1:45 p.m. in the Lehigh Room, the Hotel Bethlehem.

• James Higgins, doctoral candidate, “Bethlehem in Crisis: The Great Influenza Epidemic of 1918” Friday, Oct. 17, at 1:45 p.m. in the Lehigh Room, the Hotel Bethlehem.

• Silas Chamberlin, master of arts candidate, “’A True Recreation of our Spirits, our Courage, and Love’: Hiking Ideology in Twentieth-Century Pennsylvania” Saturday, Oct. 18, at 10:45 a.m. in the Lehigh room, the Hotel Bethlehem.

Other highlights will include:

• A tour of South Bethlehem’s elite and working class neighborhoods organized by Kimberley Carrell-Smith, professor of practice in Lehigh’s history department. Friday, Oct. 17, at 3:30 p.m.

• A reception given in honor of former Lehigh professor Lawrence Henry Gipson by the Gipson Institute for Eighteenth-Century Studies. Friday, Oct. 17, at 6 p.m. in the Siegel Gallery, Iacocca Hall Lobby, Lehigh University.


• A banquet and address given by Peter Cole, associate professor of history at Western Illinois University. Friday, Oct. 17, at 7 p.m. in the Wood Dining room, Iacocca Hall, Lehigh University.

Conference attendees will be required to pay a fee, but the tour is free. Those planning to attend the South Bethlehem tour should register by e-mailing kew206@lehigh.edu.

Soderlund and Roger Simon, both professors of history, chaired the local arrangements committee, with assistance by Oliver.

--Becky Straw

Photo by Jake Boritt


Posted on Monday, October 13, 2008

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