Berks History Center recognized for Outstanding Pennsylvania German Activities

The Berks History Center has announced that Bradley K. Smith, BHC Assistant Director and Archivist, was honored with the Outstanding Pennsylvania German Activities Award by the Deutsch-Pennsylvanischer Arbeitskreis on Tuesday, May 21, 2024.

Deutsch-Pennsylvanischer Arbeitskreis, known as the German-Pennsylvania Association in English, was established to foster dialogue between various initiatives in Germany, enhance collaboration between the Old and New World, and serve as a primary point of contact for institutions in the United States and Canada.

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The award was presented to Smith by Patrick Donmoyer from the Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center during the filming of the June episode of the Pennsylvania German Hour show on BCTV. In this episode, Smith graciously accepted the award, shared insights into his work at BHC, and discussed the upcoming fall semester of Pennsylvania Dutch classes. The episode is scheduled to air on BCTV on Friday, June 7, 2024.

While a significant portion of the award text is in standard German, the translated portion acknowledges Smith’s substantial contributions to preserving the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect and culture. The award specifically recognizes his achievements in offering Pennsylvania Dutch dialect courses at the BHC, engaging 280 participants over sixteen months, and establishing a team of dialect instructors.

“It is a tremendous honor to see our hard work recognized by the German-Pennsylvania Association, and we sincerely appreciate the support and guidance they have provided to us since our program began in 2022,” stated Smith. “It is also important to note that none of our success would be possible without the passion and enthusiasm of our many dedicated students.”

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BHC introduced its Pennsylvania Dutch classes in the autumn of 2022 under Smith’s guidance. These courses provide participants with an introduction to the distinctive language and customs of the Pennsylvania Dutch community. The classes cater to individuals at all proficiency levels, appealing to language enthusiasts, history aficionados, and those with a curiosity for diverse cultures.

Since the program’s inception, the BHC has conducted multiple semesters of classes each year. The upcoming semester is scheduled for Fall 2024.

Community members interested in enrolling in BHC’s Pennsylvania Dutch classes can register online at The cost is $70 for BHC members (Individual Level Members and above) and $140 for non-members.

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