About Ruth Hodge

Reclaiming African American History | Janet Bell | Janet Bell Interview | Ruth Hodge | Ruth Hodge Interview

By title alone one can call Ruth Hodge a state archivist and a historian. She’s been a race advocate, a mother, a citizen and so much more. Ruth Hodge has made a great impact not only on the borough of Carlisle, but the nationwide. As a part of her paid and unpaid work, Ruth has unearthed and discovered a myriad of information regarding African American history in Carlisle and the state of Pennsylvania. Her lived experiences in Carlisle and the work she has done regarding African American history is tremendous for she has elevated and honored many forgotten voices.

www.phmc.state.pa.us/bah/dam/images/ruth.jpg Ruth Hodge, hard at work in her prior position as the Associate Archivist for the Pennsylvania State Archives.

Ruth Hodge as a Primary Source
Ruth E. Hodge moved to Carlisle in 1959 after finishing her education at Lycoming college and marrying Marcus Hodge. Coming from Virginia during the Jim Crowe era,[1] she came to Carlisle and was enchanted. But after living in Carlisle for a few years, her disillusionment faded and she saw, “This place [Carlisle] is more segregated than Virginia was.” [2]

Audio clip of Ruth Hodge discussing racism in Carlisle


Ruth Hodge discusses the obstacles she faced while working in Carlisle and relates how she overcame them. She speaks of her ascension through the ranks of the U.S. Army Military History Institute and how she advocated to bring more recognition and honor to the African American soldiers who fought this countries’ wars. In her position as the State Assistant Archivist, Ruth made it a point to bring African American histories to the forefront, bringing their forgotten stories to the center of attention. Throughout her career she has planned and created numerous conferences and memorials, bringing the lived experiences of other historic African Americans to recognition. She was instrumental in naming the only building in Carlisle named after an African American or a woman, teacher Emma Thompson McGowan. Ruth has constantly upheld her values and has always had an inquisitive mind.

Audio clip of Ruth Hodge talking about taking charge in the work force.


Ruth Hodge as a Secondary Source
Throughout her interview, Ruth spoke about the various African American histories she came across. She retold Carlisle’s early involvement with slavery and Underground Railroad activity through the Black churches. She spoke about local and national cases she researched, unveiling the histories of countless African American lives that had been brushed by the way-side. In 2001, she published a manuscript of her findings, a six-hundred page document, which tracks the lives of African Americans in Pennsylvania. Ruth’s interview helps to explain the ways in exterior policies affected the lives of neighboring African Americans, which then helped bring national perspectives into local context.

Ruth Hodge’s 600 page work, Guide to African American Resources at the Pennsylvania State Archives


Audio Clip of Ruth Hodge speaking of a touching moment.


Ruth’s contributions have been recognized by many, many people. From the families who she has connected to her university Lycoming College where she recently won the Outstanding Alumnus Award. Her lived experiences and research have further helped inform this project about African American life in Carlisle. Ruth Hodge has given life to a forgotten history and has advocated for what she believes. She has a genuine passion and love for pursuing these vital histories and plans to continue her research long after retirement. She is an active member of the community whose work will live on for others to carry on her legacy.


Ruth Hodge being honored at her alma mater receiving the Angela R. Kyte

Outstanding Alumnus Award.





[2] Ruth Hodge, interview with Yazmin Watkins, November 30, 2007