March 26, 2017 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Centre Furnace Mansion
1001 E. College Ave. 16801

Centre County Historical Society
2017 Distinguished Speakers Series

The Pennsylvania German Groundhog Lodges and Versammlinge
Presented by: William W. Donner, Department of Anthropology, Kutztown University

William Donner

In the 1930s, Pennsylvania Germans started Groundhog Lodges to provide a place for speaking and celebrating the German language and culture. There was singing, skits, and serious talks, often concerning the legendary ability of the groundhog to predict the weather, all done in the German Deitsch language. Over time, Versammlinge (“gatherings”) also developed in the state and adopted a similar format. The program will explore how the meetings celebrated tradition, and over time, became themselves a tradition. Donner is a professor in the anthropology department at Kutztown University and the author of Serious Nonsense: Groundhog Lodges,Versammlinge and Pennsylvania German Heritage, (Penn State University Press, 2012).

This distinguished lecture series is underwritten by the Anne Hamilton Henszey Pyle and Kenneth B. Pyle Educational Fund for Regional Heritage Preservation (Henszey Pyle Fund.)

The inspirations for the Henszey-Pyle Fund include the interest that Anne and Kenneth have in the history of the community in which they grew up and their belief in the value of the study of history.  Anne is the great-great-grand daughter of Moses and Mary Irvin Thompson and great-grand daughter of John Hamilton all of whose contributions to regional history are honored at the Centre Furnace Mansion and within the Centre County Historical Society.  Kenneth, who acquired a love of the study of history growing up in State College, is the Henry M. Jackson Professor of History and International Studies Emeritus at the University of Washington where he has taught history for over fifty years.

The lecture series is coordinated by CCHS Board of Governors member Dr. Ford Risley.


The Centre Furnace Mansion is located at 1001 E. College Avenue, State College, PA 16801. Parking is available in the lower lawn along College Avenue, as well as in the Mansion parking lot off of Porter Road. Admission to the program is FREE. Donations are appreciated.  For more information, please call (814) 234-4779.