Hidden histories are hidden no more.
Time to celebrate Black History Month with a program on the Civil War in mid-February, the Hari Jones: Hidden Histories program series launched in partnership with Dauphin County Commissioners uncovers the nuances of local history that touch the lives of everyone today.
The initiative honoring the late, visionary historian Hari Jones encompasses lectures, genealogy workshops, an endowment, and a curated collection of volumes on African American and local history.
What is happening in February?
Scott Hancock, associate professor of history and Africana Studies at Gettysburg College, will present the inaugural lecture in mid-February entitled, “The American Civil War: A War for Freedom.”
Hancock said he strives to help Americans think about history in new ways and see their interwoven pasts.
“A public library can connect with people and tell the kinds of stories that people relate to,” he said.
Who was Hari Jones?
Harold “Hari” Jones was among the nation’s foremost authorities on the role of African Americans in the Civil War. The retired U.S. Marine captain was assistant director of the African American Civil War Freedom Foundation and Museum in Washington, D.C., and served on the board of directors for the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg.
Jones was drawn to Harrisburg and southcentral Pennsylvania for their pivotal roles before, during, and after the Civil War – as Underground Railroad trail, as Robert E. Lee’s target before being stopped in Gettysburg, as host of the Camp Curtin Union army training grounds, and as home to churches and communities that advocated for African American voting rights.
Dauphin County Commissioner Jeff Haste knew Jones well and reached out to The Library for help devising a fitting memorial after Jones’ sudden death in June 2018.
“Hari would often say we have to go beyond the Hollywood history and go to the original sources to find the real story,’’ Haste said, adding that the significance of the Harrisburg area too often is overshadowed by Gettysburg.
“The library is a great community resource and the perfect place to spark the next generation to learn about central Pennsylvania,” Haste said. “People underestimate the real value this area had in shaping our country’s history.’’
The library system seized the unique opportunity to keep Hari’s memory alive,” said The Library's Executive Director, Karen Cullings.
“We didn’t want to just put up a plaque. We wanted something that would have more meaning and fit with what libraries and Hari’s work was about,’’ Cullings said. “We are very focused on making sure the community gets information from primary, reliable sources and giving all voices a chance to be heard. Hari was all that to a ‘T.’’’
What else is part of the Hari Jones Hidden Histories Program?
The Hidden Histories Collection: Filled with titles suggested by Jones’ colleagues, among the books selected for adults is “African Voices of the Atlantic Slave Trade” by Anne C. Bailey, while children’s volumes include “Sit-in: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down,” from Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney.
Genealogy: Partnering with the Harrisburg Genealogy Workshop to expand the network of amateur genealogists created in 2017 by local historians Dr. Sharonn Williams and Calobe Jackson, Jr. Members find their own “hidden histories” through locally available as well as online and national resources.
Please help us expand this great program
An endowment supporting programs and expansion of the book collection. Donors can contribute through the The LIbrary’s donations page – www.dcls.org/donate -- and designate the funds for the Hari Jones collection in the comments box. You can also call Executive Director Karen Cullings at 717-234-4961.