New exhibits showcase county's history
January 19, 2014 1:50 AM
by EMILY WEBER
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Two new exhibits displaying the history of Indiana County are open to the public at the Historical and Genealogical Society of Indiana County along Wayne Avenue in Indiana.

The Indian Trails exhibit shows what daily life was like for the Native American groups living in this region and the impact of white settlers arriving in the early to mid-18th century.

Western Pennsylvania was the home of the Lenape and Iroquois, although many tribes moved in and out of the area, said Mary Yanity, museum chairwoman of the Historical and Genealogical Society.

“It may have been a mini-melting pot as Indians came west,” Yanity said.

Many of the artifacts in the exhibit, such as dishes, points and tools for grinding corn, are from that time or earlier, according to Katie Gaudreau, public historian for the Historical and Genealogical Society, although some objects are reproductions. Many of the objects in the exhibit were donated by individuals, she said.

This exhibit will be ongoing and available to the public indefinitely.

The second exhibit displays American Red Cross uniforms and posters from around the 1940s. It includes signage and Red Cross posters shown in Indiana County, as well as uniforms donated by women who worked with the county’s chapter of the Red Cross during that time.

The Indiana County chapter of the American Red Cross was chartered in 1917 to assist servicemen and their families and prepare for times of disaster. It was originally housed in the old Silas M. Clark homestead but moved its headquarters to 728 Church St. in Indiana in 1950 and remained there for 55 years until moving to Kolter Drive in White Township.

During World War II, chapters of the Red Cross all across the nation enrolled nurses for military service, prepared millions of packages for American and Allied prisoners of war, and shipped supplies overseas. Members also initiated a national blood program to meet the needs of the armed forces. After the war, the Red Cross introduced the nationwide civilian blood donation program that now supplies more than 40 percent of the country’s blood and blood products.

In recent years much of the administrative work was relocated to Westmoreland County, but the Indiana County chapter still runs local blood drives, Yanity said.

This exhibit will be available for about four to six months and may expand as more items are donated, Gaudreau said.

An upcoming exhibit about the Indiana Sports Hall of Fame is still in the works for later in the year and will take the place of the Indiana County Open Arts Exhibit on the first floor of the armory. Featuring donated photographs of athletes and sporting events, the exhibit will be a snapshot of the history of sports in the county.

“We had piles and piles and piles of photos donated, and they’re still in the process of cleaning them up,” Gaudreau said.

The Sports Hall of Fame should be available in a few months. A teaser exhibit featuring a few snapshots is currently on display.

The volunteers at the museum are still looking for artifacts for this upcoming exhibit.

“We encourage the public to loan or donate any Indiana County sports-related items, such as baseball gloves, uniforms, trophies, hockey sticks, balls, programs, ice skates, anything,” Yanity said.

The museum at the society is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. Admission is free but donations are accepted.

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