Jamie and Domi’s YoCo Backstory
Goodridge Freedom Center
123 E. Philadelphia Street, York, Pa.
Historian Jamie Noerpel & Archivist Domi Miller are conversational. They’re fun. They’re passionate about local history. Without flinching, they take on challenging stories about York County’s past. Their base is the northeastern York County village of Newberrytown. That’s where they live. And they move to sites around YoCo to talk about their native county. They are the co-hosts of Hometown History.
Jamie, a teacher, holds a doctorate in American studies, blogs about local history and culture and operates this digital site, WitnessingYork.com. Domi, a federal court archivist, holds a master’s degree in library science and local history and moderates the Preserving the History of Newberrytown Facebook group. She is a re-enactor in the 87th Pennsylvania.
Here are some of the goals driving Jamie and Domi and “Hometown History,” complete with a YouTube channel and podcast.
- To introduce next generations of York County residents to York County history.
- In so doing, present the history of all people in a way that has weight and is winsome
- To test, refine and practice a conversational way of storytelling about history.
In Season 3, Episode 1 of “Hometown History: Jamie and Domi’s YoCo Backstory,” Jamie and Domi explore the Goodridge Freedom Center in: William C. Goodridge: “One of the coolest guys you’d ever want to learn about.”
Description: The Goodridge Freedom Center is not on a corner in York. But it stands at the intersection of three major pre-Civil War moments. William C. Goodridge, formerly enslaved and later a successful York County businessman, called it home. Goodridge and his wife, Evalina, operated a station on the Underground Railroad there, an illegal act that could have brought federal prosecution. They provided studio space Glenalvin, their oldest son and a pioneering American photographer. The 123 E. Philadelphia Street townhouse, now the Goodridge Freedom Center, thus stands as a symbol of perseverance against great odds, a beacon for freedom seekers everywhere and a place of innovation and invention. Today, a newly minted Goodridge statue beckons visitors to come, sit, listen and learn.
Episode 1, was livestreamed in the Retro York and Preserving the History of Newberrytown Facebook groups at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 4. The show was streamed at the Goodridge Freedom Center. Because of space limitations, there will be no live audience.
In Season 3, Episode 2, Jamie and Domi tell the story of the Four Chaplains and York Rabbi Alexander D. Goode titled: “The ship is sinking: Would you give up your life jacket? The Four Chaplains did.”
Description: It’s Feb. 3, 1943, 80 years ago. Midway through World War II. The torpedo strikes. The troop transport Dorchester goes black. Confusion reigns. But four chaplains become light in darkness. York rabbi and Chaplain Alexander D. Goode gives his gloves to a soldier. He has another pair, he says. Only he doesn’t. He’s not leaving the ship. Life jackets are gone. Goode and three fellow chaplains give their life jackets to panicked soldiers. The ship is going down. Soldiers on lifeboats look back. The Four Chaplains are singing and praying. In English, Latin, Hebrew. Their arms are locked. Hope amid despair. The Four Chaplains go under with 668 others. But 230 survive to tell about the chaplains’ valor, a lesson for the ages. And for us to consider: Will our valor shine when our courage is tested?
Episode 2, was livestreamed in the Retro York and Preserving the History of Newberrytown Facebook groups at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 1. The setting was Temple Beth Israel in York Township.
In Season 3, Episode 3 of “Hometown History: Jamie and Domi’s YoCo Backstory,” Jamie and Domi explore road signs of all kinds: “Signs of the times: Learning York County history through markers.”
Description: Signs about York County history are everywhere. Yes, everywhere a sign. And contra to the 5 Man Electrical Band’s 1970s protest anthem, history signs don’t block out the scenery. And no, they don’t break your mind. They help us to understand the landscape. They inform you about the people, places and moments that have shaped our county, past and present. We are blessed with Keystone markers, part of the Good Road program from a century ago. And those prestigious blue-and-gold Pennsylvania markers. The Haines Shoe House will unveil one this summer. Wayside markers that serve as outdoor storyboards. Hanover just installed a score of those. And ghost signs that point to a history that is fast fading. Hometown History’s March episode will cover local history markers and how they help make sense of our surroundings. Yes, everywhere a history sign. And might there be more.
Episode 3, was livestreamed in the Retro York and Preserving the History of Newberrytown Facebook groups at 7 p.m., Tuesday, May 24. It was streamed from Newberrytown and featured Jamie’s 2 1/2-month-old son, Otto. Details: ‘Signs of the Times.”
In Season 3, Episode 4 of “Hometown History: Jamie and Domi’s YoCo Backstory,” Neil King Jr., who walked from Washington, D.C. to New York in 2021, is interviewed about his trek in “An American rambles through York County.”
Description: In the spring of 2021, King embarked on his journey in search of a slice of early America. York County was on his short list of stops. He did his homework and made it a destination. The former Wall Street Journal reporter passed through the county, up from Maryland and along the rail trail to York. He enjoyed conversation at York mayor Michael Helfrich’s fire pit, took in Ophelia Chambliss’ art exhibit featuring people who help shape community, toured the restoration of historically Black Lebanon Cemetery with Samantha Dorm, and squatted on an outcrop in the Susquehanna River with Paul Nevin to view early Native American rock carvings, called petroglyphs.
Episode 4, was livestreamed in the Retro York and Preserving the History of Newberrytown Facebook groups at 6 p.m., Wednesday, March 8. Hometown History interviewed Neil King Jr. at the Center for Community Engagement in York in this event co-sponsored with the center.
Hometown History: Season 1, show notes.
One of Jamie and Domi’s goals is to engage the next generation. They’ve found that, if local Facebook audiences are any indication, at least half are above 50 years in age. To fuel local history interest in those south of 50, these videos, with podcast, are meant to reach a broader audience, interesting people of all ages in York County history. However, this is just the first step. How else can we get our kids and grandkids into history?
Related links and sources: Episode 1: James McClure’s William C. Goodridge: “One of the coolest guys you’d ever want to learn about.” Top photo, York Daily Record. Episode 2: James McClure’s “York County’s Four Chaplains Memorial keeps story of World War II heroism alive.” Episode 3: Heart of Hanover Trails is one of York County’s newest sign programs.
— By JAMIE NOERPEL and JIM McCLURE