About Robin Van Auken

I’m Robin Van Auken, a writer and a public archaeologist. Most days I work on writing, and I've authored more than a dozen books. Topics range from nonfiction history to fictional novels. I teach American Archaeology at Lycoming College, Williamsport, PA, and direct multi-year, public archaeology projects, working with hundreds of students and volunteers, and educating thousands of visitors. I also teach Communications/Media Writing at Lycoming College, and direct its summer youth program, Lycoming College for Kids and Teens. With my husband, Lance Van Auken, I operate Hands on Heritage, a consulting firm that helps its clients discover, explore, celebrate and share their cultural heritage through a variety of unique projects. Offering a range of historical research and interpretive services, we can help you tell your story in the format that suits your needs, while adhering to the highest standards of historical practice.

Devil’s Den provides Lycoming College students with window into prehistoric river

The Devil's Den in Florida is a dramatic freshwater spring, and popular for scuba diving and snorkeling. To reach the Den, visitors must descend narrow, limestone steps to the karst. Lycoming College Nautical Archaeology class visit the Devil's Den, Florida Lycoming College archaeology students got a rare view into a prehistoric cave structure [...]

O’Sullivan and Civil War Ephemera

Interested in the ephemera of the Civil War? The National Archives has released thousands of documents and photographs from the American Civil War, and Wikimedia Commons is organizing them. Civil War Photo: Captain Harry Page, Quartermaster. "The Halt." Here's just one of many photos of U.S. History in the category: Virginia, Army of [...]

Kids Dig ‘Arch in the Park’

Muncy Historical Society, Northcentral Chapter 8, Lycoming College Unite to Offer One-of-a-Kind Archaeology Experience to Area Youth MUNCY -- Arch in the Park is a hands-on heritage program designed by students for students. Organized by communication students at Lycoming College, Arch in the Park is an archaeological outreach offered by Muncy Historical Society, Northcentral Chapter [...]

Grit Chronicles: Suffrage in Williamsport

On occasion, I share historic news reports and here's one of interest, in honor of Women's History Month. People don't often think of Suffrage as a community effort, but without commitment on the local level, the 19th Amendment would never have passed. Thanks to the dedication of women in smalltown America, as well as the [...]

World of Little League Museum videos

Lance Van Auken of World of Little League Museum Hands on Heritage assisted the World of Little League Baseball Museum cast and videotape local children in the "Where in the World of Little League Museum" series to celebrate the 2015 Little League World Series. The videos were part of a social media campaign. [...]

Our Milestone: 35 Years Together

We celebrated a milestone in the Van Auken family: our 35th wedding anniversary. I made a short video for my sweetheart that summarized some of the adventures we've had this past year, and I'm looking forward to many more.   Van Aukens observe 35th anniversary Lance and Robin Van Auken Mr. and Mrs. [...]

Muncy Heritage Park Offers River Access

Muncy Heritage Park offers river access. MUNCY — River enthusiasts, canoeists and kayakers have another gorgeous access point to the West Branch of the Susquehanna River, this one overlooking a significant historic site: the Last Raft Crash Site at Muncy Heritage Park and Nature Trail. Muncy Heritage Park offers river access. Muncy Historical Society [...]

Get a Great Night’s Sleep

Have you, your family, or a friend ever had difficulty sleeping? For years, I've struggled with going to sleep and remaining asleep. I would lie awake for hours, agonizing over my "To Do" list or tasks I hadn't completed. Drift Off to Sleep I've found a solution that works for me, and it's been working [...]

Small Changes Ripple Outward

I spent a delightful 12 minutes today watching a Ted Talk by Shawn Achor, a psychologist who teaches about positivity and its effect on happiness. Shawn Achor(Photo courtesy Alexismbr, Wikimedia Commons) Not only did I laugh most of the the time, but I was inspired to pause the video (so yes, it took [...]

Hands on Heritage: Keeler Company

Hands on Heritage: Keeler Company The E. Keeler Company, manufacturers of boilers, etc., conduct Quo of the old industries of the city. The business was established in 1864 by J. Heathcote & Company, who conducted it until 1877, when it was incorporated with a paid-up capital of $50,000, the executive officers being George W. Sands, [...]

Hands on Heritage: Market Square

Hands on Heritage: Market Square This 1875 photograph shows the southwest corner of Market Square in downtown Williamsport. Bustling with downtown traffic despite the muddy thoroughfares, Williamsport's booming lumber trade summoned entrepreneurs eager to capitalize on the region's wealth and new construction. The block featured a ticket office for the Philadelphia and Erie Railroad Company, [...]

Ask a Curator Day

We're all curious about what goes on behind closed doors, and that's true for museums and galleries and historical societies, as well as private residences. Spencer F. Baird, the first Curator of the National Museum and second Secretary of the Smithsonian, oversaw the development of the Smithsonian as the national museum of the United [...]

#TBT: Mother Instinct Outweighs Appetite

Odd, Strange and Curious: A #TBT from Grit: America's Greatest Family Newspaper, brought to you by Hands on Heritage. Mother Instinct Outweighs Appetite June 6, 1946

Kitchen Sink Bars

I like the portability and stability of Lara Bars when I'm in the field. They hold up well in the backpack, and they're not outrageously expensive. They are a treat, however, and when I'm shopping, I'm already spending more than most people because I'm choosing organic, whole foods. I'm not shopping for candy. But when I get a [...]

Williamsport: Boomtown on the Susquehanna

Williamsport: Boomtown on the Susquehanna (Robin Van Auken and Louis E. Hunsinger, Jr., Arcadia, 2003) This book relates the history of Williamsport, as well as many towns and boroughs of Lycoming County. Williamsport, a struggling frontier village that grew into a town with a taste for success, eventually molded itself into a magnetic and vibrant [...]

The Story of Little League Baseball®

Play Ball! The Story of Little League Baseball By Lance and Robin Van Auken Play Ball by Robin Van Auken Play Ball! The Story of Little League® Baseball is the remarkable story of Little League® Baseball, from the first diamond in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, to the playing fields of the world. On any given spring [...]

Little League Baseball World Series

The Little League Baseball World Series (Robin Van Auken, Arcadia, 2002) This book is a photographic companion book to Play Ball! The Story of Little League Baseball (Penn State University Press 2001). It profiles more than five decades of the World Series. In 1947, when the first Little League Baseball World Series was played, there [...]

Lycoming County’s Industrial Heritage

Lycoming County's Industrial Heritage (Robin Van Auken and Louis E. Hunsinger, Jr., Arcadia, 2005)  This book reviews Northcentral Pennsylvania’s rich industrial history, first in lumber and then in manufacturing. After the Lumber Boom, many company towns collapsed. Boards of trade were created to entice manufacturers to the region. During the first half of the twentieth [...]

Muncy Postcard History Series

Muncy (PA) (Postcard History Series) (Robin Van Auken, Arcadia, 2006) Muncy Postcard History Series by Robin Van Auken examines the small river town of Muncy, Pennsylvania. Founded shortly after the French and Indian War, Muncy was the earliest European settlement in the West Branch Valley of the Susquehanna River. By 1769, land speculator Samuel Wallis [...]

Kickstart Your Writing with a Retreat

Crystal Lake Lodge I've been on a hiatus from my fiction writing career. It wasn't intentional; I let other tasks and chores get in the way, and failed to prioritize. My writing is important, and if I want to wrap up my current series and move onto the next one, I need to [...]