Introducing Lisa Minardi

Americana Insights is pleased to announce the appointment of Lisa Minardi as its new editor. She will succeed founding editor Robert Shaw, who retired at the start of 2023. A distinguished scholar, author, and curator, Minardi brings a wealth of knowledge in the fields of Americana and academic publishing to Americana Insights. She also serves as executive director of Historic Trappe and the Center for Pennsylvania German Studies, a role she will retain in tandem with her new position as editor of Americana Insights. Noting her passion for all things Americana, Minardi says that she is “excited for the opportunity to present new scholarship and join an amazing team dedicated to producing a publication of the highest quality.”

Minardi leading a tour
Minardi leading a tour of the folk art gallery at Historic Trappe’s Center for Pennsylvania German Studies.

A native of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, Minardi is a specialist in the history and material culture of southeastern Pennsylvania. She holds a BA in history and museum studies from Ursinus College, an MA from the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture, and is a PhD candidate in the History of American Civilization Program at the University of Delaware, where she is researching the German-speaking community of early Philadelphia for her dissertation.

Minardi is the author of numerous publications on Pennsylvania German folk art and has curated more than a dozen exhibitions. From 2006 to 2016 she was an assistant curator at Winterthur Museum, where, in 2011, she co-authored the book Paint, Pattern & People: Furniture of Southeastern Pennsylvania, 1725–1850 and helped organize the companion exhibition. In 2011, she also curated the exhibition Pastors & Patriots: The Muhlenberg Family of Pennsylvania at the Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art at Ursinus College and wrote the accompanying catalog. In 2015, she served as consulting curator and catalog author for the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Drawn with Spirit: Pennsylvania German Fraktur from the Joan and Victor Johnson Collection. That same year, she curated the Winterthur exhibition A Colorful Folk: Pennsylvania Germans & the Art of Everyday Life, authoring the accompanying catalog, and curated the exhibition Quill & Brush: Pennsylvania German Fraktur and Material Culture at the Free Library of Philadelphia. She has written four major articles for the journal American Furniture: “From Millbach to Mahantongo: Fraktur and Furniture of the Pennsylvania Germans” (2011); “Philadelphia, Furniture, and the Pennsylvania Germans: A Reevaluation” (2013); “Adam Hains and the Philadelphia-Reading Connection” (2014); and “Sulfur Inlay in Pennsylvania German Furniture: New Discoveries” (2015). Her most recent book, Roots: Ursinus College and the Pennsylvania Germans, was published by Historic Trappe in 2019 in conjunction with a special exhibit for the college’s 150th anniversary. Her current research focuses on David Ellinger, a self-taught artist and antiques dealer from Trappe who helped popularize Pennsylvania German culture in the mid-twentieth century. She guest curated the exhibit “Out of the Heart: The Life and Art of David Ellinger” for Arcadia University in 2022 and is currently developing a spinoff exhibit on Ellinger for Historic Trappe, opening in fall 2023. A frequent lecturer, Minardi teaches a course on Pennsylvania German folk art for the Barnes Foundation.

Highlights of publications by Lisa Minardi
Highlights of publications by Lisa Minardi.
Henry Muhlenberg House, Historic Trappe
Henry Muhlenberg House at Historic Trappe. Courtesy of Historic Trappe, photo by Gavin Ashworth.
Furniture gallery at the Henry Muhlenberg House
Furniture gallery at the Henry Muhlenberg House. Courtesy of Historic Trappe, photo by Gavin Ashworth.
Period bedroom at the Henry Muhlenberg House
First-floor bedchamber at the Henry Muhlenberg House. Courtesy of Historic Trappe, photo by Gavin Ashworth.

Since 2003, Minardi has been involved with historic preservation work in the town of Trappe, Pennsylvania. As a college student, she helped found the Speaker’s House, a nonprofit organization that rescued from demolition the historic home of Frederick Muhlenberg (1750–1801)—first Speaker of the US House. She served as the organization’s executive director from 2014 to 2019. In 2017, she chaired the town’s three-hundredth anniversary steering committee and organized the exhibition Revolution at Home: The Muhlenberg Family of Pennsylvania. In 2018, she was appointed director of collections and exhibitions for the Trappe Historical Society.

In 2020, Minardi spearheaded the merger of the Trappe Historical Society and the Speaker’s House, becoming the founding director of what is now known as Historic Trappe. She now oversees three historic houses associated with the Muhlenberg family as well as the Center for Pennsylvania German Studies. The center includes five exhibition galleries featuring a wide range of furniture, fraktur, needlework, pottery, and much more. It also houses a research library and archives focusing on Americana, local history, and genealogy. Highlights include a large Pennsylvania German manuscript collection donated by Dennis and Linda Moyer; research files on Pennsylvania German textiles compiled by Trish Herr; and the Americana library of William K. du Pont. Minardi’s current projects at Historic Trappe include building up the collection and continuing to share it online, as well as completing the restoration of the Speaker’s House for the America 250 celebrations in 2026.

Paintings gallery at the Center for Pennsylvania German Studies
Paintings gallery at the Center for Pennsylvania German Studies. Courtesy of Historic Trappe, photo by Gavin Ashworth.