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Today, most people don’t

visit their local tavern to

read the newspaper or listen

to a political debate. But in

Colonial America, the tavern

was a gateway to the outside

world and by default, often

became the local community

center. Tavern owners often

found themselves immersed

in town politics and

therefore thrust into military

leadership positions.

Discussions of cultural

aspects that influenced

Revolutionary War

soldiers, like tavern

ownership, are now

available on a new website,


founded by Lycoming

College students in

October 2015.

“Details about everyday

life help us recreate the world

of the ordinary soldier,” said

Christopher Pearl, Ph.D.,

assistant professor of history

at Lycoming College, who

guided the student-led effort.

“The website showcases

the methodical attention

to detail our students give

their research and helps

them preserve and honor our


The website avoids the

typical overview of the war’s

events readily available in

other publications. Instead,

it aims for a more nuanced

view by offering short, well-

crafted biographies about

ordinary Pennsylvanians

who fought in the war —

where they came from, what

influenced their decision

to serve, and how they

supported military efforts.

The site also has short essays

that explore the historical

context of Pennsylvania in

the revolutionary era, such as

land disputes and rebellion

in 1760s Northumberland

County, and the impact of

Benedict Arnold’s treason on

the war effort and the morale

of the citizenry.

“We are very excited to

be sharing our hard-earned

research with the public and

providing a collaborative

venue for all students,”

said history major Maggie

Slawson ’17, one of the

site’s founders. “Students

from other majors have

helped us design, copyedit

and fact-check. Others are

encouraged to contribute

essays on important cultural

influences, like music,

literature, occupations and

leisure-time pursuits.”

Pearl praises the students’

innovative approach to

the site. “They plan to use

the latest technology to

add to current scholarship.

For example, they plan to

document where soldiers

lived using geographic

information systems software

(GIS) to pinpoint previously

unidentified historical

hot spots and to map the

Students are developing

the guidelines for submission

criteria, now open only to

Lycoming College students

and alumni, and will post

them on the website. The

project’s scope may change

in future years as the site


Alumni who have

Revolutionary War

memorabilia, are encouraged

to send a scanned copy or

a digital, high-resolution

photo of the object to pearl@

. (Please, do

NOT send the object itself.)

If an electronic submission is

not possible, contact Pearl to

discuss. -

Miriam Mylin


dramatic mobility of veterans

in the post-war years.”

The website is the outcome

of a Mellon Foundation

research grant given to

the college to support

faculty-student research

in the humanities as part

of the college’s mission

to provide students with

career-enhancing academic

experiences. Pearl and his

students received a portion of

the grant.

For now, the website will

be dedicated to scholarship

about the history of the

period and the lives of

approximately 3,000

Revolutionary War soldiers

who applied for pensions

as Pennsylvania veterans.

Pearl expects students to add

nearly a dozen stories to the

site every year.

Christopher Pearl, Ph.D., assistant professor of history