This semester, I’m taking Messiah’s first ever Digital History course! It’s been very exciting so far and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s to come as we finish up the rest of this semester. Right now in class, we are working on digitizing US Census records from Harrisburg in 1900. We’re also spending some time getting first-hand experience at researching. We’ve been visiting the PA State Archive and some of the local archives, including the Dauphin County Historical Society. Through visiting these places and researching, we’re going to be making an Omeka website that will show the history of the Harrisburg City Beautiful movement. Before I tell you a little bit about the Harrisburg City Beautiful movement, I’m going to shamelessly promote our class blog for Digital History, which you can read here.
In 1899 Harrisburg, the city was in terrible condition. In fact, it was in such a bad condition that there were serious talks about the capital of Pennsylvania being moved elsewhere. In an effort to prevent this and beautify the city, a female Harrisburg citizen, Myra Lloyd Dock, stepped up and launched the City Beautiful movement. Through a combined effort, the city of Harrisburg was making great strides in becoming beautiful under the leadership of Dock, Vance McCormick, the mayor of Harrisburg at this time, J. Horace McFarland, the secretary of the Municipal League of Harrisburg, and the landscape architect who made it all possible, Warren Manning. Although this was the most successful City Beautiful movement, it did begin to fade out once all of the founding members of the movement either lost interest in the project or became disgruntled about it. There is much to learn from Harrisburg’s City Beautiful movement, and I hope that you follow the journey of discovery with Messiah’s Digital History class!