Jamie and Domi’s YoCo Backstory

Goodridge Freedom Center

123 E. Philadelphia Street, York, Pa.

The situation

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.”

Season 3, Episode 1: 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.

Promoting Season 3, Episode 1, which included the short video: “6 Instagram captions to use the next time you pose beside William Goodridge.”

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?

Season 3, Episode 2: “The ship is sinking: Would you give up your life jacket? The Four Chaplains did.”

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.

The Witness

Hometown History: Season 1, show notes.

HH: Season 2, show notes.

HH: Youtube channel

HH: Podcast

Season 1, Episode 1: Jamie and Domi talk about the Underground Railroad and the Baptist farm in Northern York County, site of Harriet Tubman’s visit.

The questions

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.”


— By JAMIE NOERPEL and JIM McCLURE

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