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Perspectives in Military History Lecture Series




In the Waves: My Quest to Solve the Mystery of a Civil War Submarine




Dr. Rachel Lance


Assistant Consulting Professor


Duke University Center for Hyperbaric Medicine & Environmental Physiology




On July 1, 2020, at 6:30 PM EDT, the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center in Carlisle, Pennsylvania will welcome Dr. Ravel Lance, a biomedical engineer with expertise in the effects of explosions on humans, to live-stream a lecture via ZOOM to answer one of American history’s most haunting questions, “What sank the H.L. Hunley?” Dr. Lance’s lecture, based on her new book, In the Waves: My Quest to Solve the Mystery of a Civil War Submarine, examines how and why the Confederate submarine Hunley, after completing its deadly mission, sank from history until the year 2000 when it was extracted from the depths of the Charleston harbor, its crew of eight men still seated peacefully at their posts.


To view the ZOOM lecture on July 1st, register in advance at  After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the lecture.  To submit questions, use the Q&A icon on the ZOOM website.


 The night of February 17, 1864, the Hunley, a hand-propelled submarine carrying a 135 lb. keg of gunpowder on the end of a 16 ft. wooden pole, rammed the make-shift mine into the side of the Union warship, the USS Housatonic. The massive explosion sank the warship, making the Hunley the first submarine successfully used in combat. The Hunley then immediately and mysteriously disappeared.  In her book, Dr. Lance’s dogged and cutting edge research into the aftereffects of the explosion not only offers the explanation for why the submarine sank, but it also helps to provide critical information on the effects of explosions on today’s combat service members. 


Dr. Lance is an author and Assistant Consulting Professor at Duke University, where she conducts research out of their Hyperbaric Medicine facility, with a focus on military diving projects. Before earning her PhD, Dr. Lance worked as an engineer for the United States Navy, and helped to build specialized underwater equipment used by navy divers, SEALs, and Marine Force Recon personnel.  Her trailblazing research into predicting the risks of injury and fatality from underwater explosions has received numerous international citations.


DATE: Wednesday, July 1, 2020


TIME: Live Stream begins at 6:30PM EDT


Register in advance at


 After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the lecture.




For updates and any last-minute changes, please check: or call the Information Desk: 717-245-3972.


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Four Pennsylvania students have been honored with the selection of their film, created for the National History Day in Pennsylvania (NHD in PA) program, for inclusion in an online showcase through the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) and the Smithsonian Learning Lab.

The film, Diverse City: Residential Integration in Philadelphia's West Mount Airy was created by Lily Cohen, Margaux Engel, Emmett Gordon, and Isabella Greene, all from Central High School in Philadelphia. 

To qualify for the selection, the film had to pass through several levels of competition from the NHD Philly Regional Contest to the NHD in PA State Contest, where the students were selected to represent Pennsylvania as part of the NHD in PA delegation to the National Contest.

The film was selected by NMAAHC staff and will premier tomorrow, Wednesday, June 17, as a special collection of the Smithsonian Learning Lab, along with 34 others selected as part of the nationwide NHD competition.

“What these students have achieved is remarkable,” said NHD in PA State Coordinator Jeff Hawks.  “Over 6,000 students compete in NHD in PA, and only the top 1% make it to the National Contest.  There, they compete against the best of the best from all over the country.  To be singled out for this honor from among the hundreds of films submitted to the National Contest is a testament to the students’ hard work, the dedication of their teacher, and the quality of the NHD in PA program.

NHD in PA is the statewide component of an international program designed to improve the quality of history education in schools.  Students select a topic related to the annual theme, research and analyze primary and secondary sources, develop a thesis, and create projects to showcase their findings.  The program is sponsored by the Army Heritage Center Foundation, the non-profit friends group for the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center, as part of the Foundation’s mission to enhance history education.

“This is an incredible honor for these students and their Breaking Barriers in History film to have been selected by the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, a barrier-breaking institution in its own right,” said National History Day Executive Director Dr. Cathy Gorn. “Months and years from now, they will think back fondly on this week when their documentary was viewed and experienced by people around the world visiting the Smithsonian Learning Lab and the documentary showcase.”

The 35 student films will be available to stream online for one week via the Smithsonian Learning Lab at, from tomorrow, Wednesday, June 17 through next Wednesday, June 24. 

The Smithsonian Learning Lab is a free, interactive platform for discovering millions of authentic digital resources from across the Smithsonian’s museums, research centers, libraries, archives, and more.

For more information, and to learn more about how your students can participate in the NHD in PA program, contact Jeff Hawks at the Army Heritage Center Foundation at 717-258-1102 or

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Dear friends,

Amidst the disruption and uncertainty related to coronavirus (COVID-19), we at the Army Heritage Center Foundation (AHCF) are taking extraordinary measures to keep our staff and their families healthy. Following directions from the Pennsylvania Governor's office and the recommendations of the CDC, our offices are now closed. I am pleased to tell you that our team is working from home, which allows us to practice social distancing and helps ensure our families are safe while continuing support for our mission.


We are pleased to provide resources to our friends and members that we hope will bring a respite from some of the daily worries and concerns. In the links below, you can access soldiers' stories and lectures that will be both informative and heart-warming. We hope you are able to find time to enjoy the resources. We are working on additional programs such as webinars and tele-lectures. If you are interested in receiving information or an invitation, please email your name and return email address to  or go to our website, and add your name to the drop box that appears after about 10 seconds.



Foundation Soldiers Stories:

USAHEC Lectures:

USAHEC: Educators Toolbox:

Special Studies by the USAHEC Historical Services Division:


Most importantly, please know that our thoughts and prayers are with each of you. Because of the support from friends like you, we will remain at the forefront of honoring our soldiers past and present and providing national resources even during the most challenging times. Please know how grateful we are for your generosity.  


Thank you. Please be safe.




Mike Perry

Executive Director


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