Henszey-Pyle Distinguished Author Series

The inspiration 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.

History is an interpretive art, based on available evidence. Accordingly, the interpretations are, at times, controversial and contested. The Centre County Historical Society strongly supports freedom of speech and the First Amendment rights of our speakers, authors, and writers. The Society does not necessarily endorse or support all views, conclusions, and opinions expressed, yet believes they merit entry into the marketplace of ideas and the scrutiny it affords.

The Henszey-Pyle Distinguished Author Series is underwritten by the Anne Hamilton Henszey Pyle and Kenneth B. Pyle Educational Fund for Regional Heritage Preservation (Henszey-Pyle Fund.) The Series is coordinated by CCHS Board of Governors member Dr. Ford Risley. 

Past programs that have been held by Zoom may be found on the CCHS YouTube Channel.

Lay This Body Down

Tuesday, May 2, at 7:00 p.m.
By Charles Fergus
In-person at the Centre Furnace Mansion
Due to limited seating, RSVP is required. Click on the button below, or call 814-234-4779.

Centre County native Charles Fergus writes mysteries set in Pennsylvania in the Jacksonian Era of the 1830s. He will present a talk and book signing about his third Gideon Stoltz Mystery, Lay This Body Down.

Lay This Body Down takes place in 1837 during one of the most horrific periods in American history, when human beings were considered chattel and both Northern and Southern states grew rich because of slavery. A Pennsylvania sheriff like Gideon Stoltz could choose to uphold the federal Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 or defy that racist law at great peril. In this hard-hitting, action-packed novel, Gideon tries to protect a boy who has fled from a Virginia plantation into the fraught and hostile North – and pays dearly for his principles.”

Charles is the author of more than twenty books. His three Gideon Stoltz Historical Mysteries are A Stranger Here Below (2019), Nighthawk’s Wing (2021), and Lay This Body Down (2023). He has written for publications as various as Audubon, the New York Times, Highlights for Children, Country Journal, Gray’s Sporting Journal, and Pennsylvania Game News.

This program is free and open to the public. Donations are appreciated.

The talk is a part of the distinguished author series underwritten by the Anne Hamilton Henszey Pyle and Kenneth B. Pyle Educational Fund for Regional Heritage Preservation. The program is free and open to the public. Donations are graciously accepted.

Charles Fergus

Lay This Body Down

Tuesday, May 2, 2023, 7:00 p.m.

State College native Charles Fergus writes mysteries set in Pennsylvania in the Jacksonian Era of the 1830s. He will present a talk and book signing about his third Gideon Stoltz Mystery, Lay This Body Down.

Learn more about Charles Fergus HERE.

Ford Risley

Reporting the Civil War

Sunday, March 26, 2023, 2:00 p.m.

The talk will examine how the war was reported during a time when newspapers and magazines became essential reading for Americans. A colorful cast of newsmen from the North and South reported the conflict in words and pictures.

Thomas E. Range II and Lewis Lazarow

Penn State Blue Band

Sunday, October 23, 2022

”From its humble beginnings as a six-member all-male drum and bugle corps to its current membership of over 300 instrumentalists, silks, and majorettes, the Blue Band has provided the soundtrack to the Penn State experience.”

Mary E. Stuckey

Deplorable: The Worst Presidential Campaigns from Jefferson to Trump

Sunday, April 10, 2022

The word “unprecedented” was often applied to Donald Trump. But was he really that unusual? Deplorable begins with that question, and examines nine presidential elections between 1800 and 2020 to discover just what makes elections deplorable and how often and why such elections recur in American politics.

Stephen Browne

George Washington’s First Inaugural Address and Why It Still Matters

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Stephen Howard Browne is a Liberal Arts Professor of Rhetoric at The Pennsylvania State University. He is the author of five books, including, most recently, The Ides of War: George Washington and the Newberg Crisis, and The First Inauguration: George Washington and the Invention of the Republic. 

This program is available to view on YouTube.

Charles Fergus

Nighthawk’s Wing: A Gideon Stoltz Mystery

Sunday, April 18, 2021

This program is based on Fergus’s latest historical mystery, “Nighthawk’s Wing,” set in 1836 in fictional Colerain County,   Pennsylvania featuring a young Pennsylvania German sheriff trying to solve crimes in a clannish Scots-Irish community in the central Pennsylvania backcountry.

Learn more about Charles Fergus HERE.

Dr. Kurt Carr

First Pennsylvanians: The Archaeology of Native Americans in Pennsylvania

February 2, 2020

Carr has been the Senior Curator of Archaeology at the State Museum of Pennsylvania since November 2007.

Rebecca Inlow

The Rowland Story: Beauty from Ashes

September 27, 2020

Rebecca Inlow tells the story of coal mines and railroads and a 1,000-seat single screen movie theatre that has defied all odds to survive more than a century in a small town. Rebecca,  a Board member and volunteer at the Rowland Theatre will also share images of small treasures from the past century that have been found as work has continued on the lower balcony floor.

This program is available on YouTube.

R. Thomas Berner

A Two Newspaper Town

October 18, 2020

Retired journalism professor R Thomas Berner, who worked for both newspapers, the Pennsylvania Mirror and the Centre Daily Times, shares some memories of those days.

This program is available to view on YouTube.

Among the Woo People

Russell Frank

Among the Woo People: A Survival Guide for Living in a College Town

January 15, 2019

Frank worked as a reporter and editor for newspapers in California and Pennsylvania for 13 years before joining the journalism faculty at Penn State in 1998. 

Peter Gilmore

Irish Presbyterians and the Shaping of Western Pennsylvania, 1770-1830

March 31, 2019

Peter Gilmore, adjunct lecturer in history who teaches at Carlow University, Carnegie Mellon University, and the University of Pittsburgh.

American Higher Education since World War II

Dr. Roger L. Geiger

American Higher Education since World War II: A History 

January 28, 2019

Dr. Roger L. Geiger, distinguished professor of higher education emeritus at Pennsylvania State University. 

Dr. Patrick Parsons - Pennsylvania: The Cradle of Cable Television

Dr. Patrick Parsons

Pennsylvania: The Cradle of Cable Television

January 15, 2017

Presented by Dr. Patrick Parsons, College of Communications, Penn State

Serious Nonsense - The Pennsylvania German Groundhog Lodges and Versammlinge

William W. Donner

The Pennsylvania German Groundhog Lodges and Versammlinge 

March 26, 2017

Presented by William W. Donner, Department of Anthropology, Kutztown University

Pennsylvania in Public Memory

Dr. Carolyn Kitch

Pennsylvania in Public Memory: Reclaiming the Industrial Past

January 25, 2017

Presented by Dr. Carolyn Kitch, Temple University

Dr. Amy S. Greenberg

Lady First: The World of First Lady Sarah Polk

March 26, 2017

Amy Greenburg is the George Winfree Professor of History and Women’s Studies at Penn State University.


Consumed Nostalgia

Dr. Gary Cross

Consumed Nostalgia: Memory in the Age of Fast Capitalism

October 15, 2017

Presented by Dr. Gary Cross, Distinguished Professor of Modern History at Pennsylvania State University.

Pennsylvania Germans

Simon J. Bronner, Ph.D.

The Past and Future of Pennsylvania German Studies—and Pennsylvania German Identity

January 28, 2018

Presented by Simon J. Bronner, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor Emeritus of American Studies and Folklore and Founding Director Emeritus of the Center for Pennsylvania Culture Studies at Penn State Harrisburg.

Evan Pugh's Penn State

Roger L. Williams

Evan Pugh’s Penn State: America’s Model Agricultural College

March 25, 2018

Presented by author Roger L. Williams, past Associate Vice President and Executive Director of the Penn State Alumni Association.

Ralph Seeley

Native People and Their Paths in Central Pennsylvania

August 26, 2018

Ralph’s greatest legacy stems from his love of the outdoors which he has shared with and helped to instill in generations of Centre Countians.

Pennsylvania Farming - A History in Landscapes

Dr. Sally McMurry

Pennsylvania Farming: A History in Landscapes

September 9, 2018

Presented by Dr. Sally McMurry, Professor Emerita of History, Penn State University

Lair of the Lion

Lee Stout

The History of Beaver Stadium

October 23, 2016

Lee Stout, Historical Society Board member, is a Librarian Emeritus and former Head of Public Services and Outreach for Special Collections at the Penn State University Libraries. 

Lair of the Lion

Harry West

The History of Beaver Stadium

October 23, 2016

Harry West is Professor Emeritus of Civil Engineering.