Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites Presents: Bethlehem Back When

May 2nd, 2016Press Release from Historic Bethlehem Museums and Sites

BETHLEHEM, PA., April 29, 2016, Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites is proud to unveil the Bethlehem Back When exhibition, a selection of fifty photos displayed on the second floor of the Luckenbach Mill on May 14, 2016 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. with a Members Reception from 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. This is the first ever exhibition dedicated to showcasing the impressive photo collection, which spans decades and captures moments, big and small, in the lives of Bethlehem residents.


The project began as a community-driven effort to digitize and catalogue a collection of over 8,000 photographs that were taken for Bethlehem Steel and catalogued prior to being donated to Historic Bethlehem in 1980. Dedicated volunteers from Bethlehem Historic District Association meet weekly to scan and record the condition of the photographs.


These amazing snapshots taken by Bethlehem Steel photographers encompass portraits, street views, landscapes, and the occasional oddball: like a man in tights or a woman on a donkey. Other photos include: a snapshot from 1893 of the Lehigh River boat landing on Memorial Day on Calypso Island, now known as Sand Island, as well as a look at a reception at the Historic Bethlehem Tour on May 14, 1948, where hostesses, Mrs. Allen W. Stephens is pouring tea, and Mrs. William Bewley is serving sugar cake.


For eight months, the volunteers have been delighted and surprised by the 1300 photographs they’ve recorded to date. With 7,000 more photos ranging from the 1879 to the 1971 left, there is still so much to uncover.


The Bethlehem Back When exhibition features fifty photographs as an introduction to the archiving project, and the exhibition will run from May 14th to November 1, 2016 in the newly renovated Luckenbach Mill Learning Center. The Luckenbach Mill hasn’t been home to an exhibition or open to the public in over ten years, making Bethlehem Back When its inauguration.


Beginning May 15, hours of operation for the Luckenbach Mill will be Friday-Sunday 11 a.m. -4 p.m. Bethlehem Back When is a great way to celebrate the 275th anniversary of the founding of Bethlehem, and opens on May 14 for Community Day, a free fun day of games, crafts, music, tours, demonstrations, and educational activities from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. in the Colonial Industrial Quarter.


In upcoming months, portions of the collection will be accessible to the public through an online catalogue, which will serve as a window back in time to the daily lives of the Bethlehem residents throughout history. The photos will also be available to order as print copies.


To schedule a tour, please contact the Visitor Center at 610-360-TOUR. If you are interested in volunteering for this meaningful project, please contact Lindsey Jancay, Curator, at Historic Bethlehem Partnership, 610-868-6868 x 63 or gro.mehelhtebcirotsihnull@yacnaJL.


All proceeds from this event help Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites to maintain 20 historic landmarks in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.


Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites is a not-for-profit institution that brings to life three centuries of American history.  Historic Bethlehem tells the story of a small town of great influence, home to some of our nation’s earliest settlers, to America’s first municipal water pumping system, and to one of the world’s greatest industrial companies.  Historic Bethlehem is located in eastern Pennsylvania, only a 1.5 hour drive from Philadelphia to the North and 2 hours west of New York City.  Historic Bethlehem is an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and a National Historic Landmark District.


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