It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a… history truck?

You got that right.

Plainly stated, the Philadelphia Public History Truck (PPHT) is a project meant to tell the story of Philadelphia considering all of its parts from library records to oral histories, from old crumbling sidewalks to refurbished loft apartments, from death records to new babies on the block.  It’s about telling the whole story with context while involving the community, making it possible to connect all people to the process of museums.

Specifically and technically, The Philadelphia Public History Truck  is a planned mobile museum devoted to sharing lesser known stories in Philadelphia through community curatorial experience and localized engagement opportunities.  The “truck” will traverse the city and bring people together in history exchanges and storytelling block parties to birth exhibits in tandem with historical research by Philadelphia graduate students.  In other words, this project is a fusion of archival research, oral history, and material culture study.

The goals? (These might shift slightly in wording as time moves forward.)

1- Understanding Philadelphia contextually so that people across the city and beyond will understand Philadelphia’s past and people in a more complete way.

2- Helping public historians to better understand how a roaming pop-up museum can strengthen community engagement.


What’s happening now?

In 2013, exhibits will be designed in community centers and public gathering spaces, but with funding, the exhibits will be created on the History Truck ready to travel throughout the city as a connection between people and neighborhoods.  History trucks with you; get moving.


This project is the M.A. Public History thesis of Erin Bernard at Temple University under advisor and Public History Coordinator Dr. Seth Bruggeman.  The truck is currently in planning and development stages.

If you are interested in learning more about Erin’s plans for the Philadelphia Public History Truck, have or know of a specific neighborhood community center interested in partnering with PPHT, want to throw a storytelling block party, or simply have a question or comment, please reach out to Erin at


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