From the Executive Director

One of the things I love best about being executive director of the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission is sharing our commonwealth’s history with other Pennsylvanians. Although this letter is appearing in the winter issue of Pennsylvania Heritage, I am writing it on one of the hottest days of 2018. Earlier today, I had just come out of a series of meetings related to agency work...
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From the Executive Director

With the arrival of fall, you can find festivals everywhere in Pennsylvania. Celebrations of harvest range from the National Apple Harvest Festival in Arendtsville, Adams County, and the Mushroom Festival in Kennett Square, Chester County, to old-country inspired Oktoberfests from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. Many are established traditions with local origins — Stahlstown in Westmoreland County...
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From the Executive Director

As the state’s history agency, the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission holds historic objects and documents in trust for the people of Pennsylvania. The breadth of these collections is staggering. Within the Pennsylvania State Archives, we preserve some of the oldest documents in the state, such as William Penn’s 1681 Charter, the 1682 Great Law of Pennsylvania, and 33 deeds starting...
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From the Executive Director

Why do we tell stories? And why do we read them? Of course, they may be interesting, but how do they inform our lives today? Within this issue of Pennsylvania Heritage, you will find stories illustrating the best of human spirit — determination, curiosity, resourcefulness, bravery, loyalty and generosity. The Pennsylvanians featured in this issue — Charles Willson Peale, the Pennsylvania...
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From the Executive Director

I am thrilled to call myself a Pennsylvanian. I have lived in states up and down the East Coast, in the Midwest and overseas, but here in Pennsylvania I really feel like I am home. A resident for just over a decade . . . how can that be? Pennsylvania is an easy place to belong. It reflects the complete American experience, from Native American settlement to the tech boom of today. The state’s...
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From the Executive Director

For almost six years it has been my privilege and honor to serve as the executive director of the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission (PHMC). This July I will complete my 50th year of public service as an educator, historian, museum director and preservationist. I can think of no better way to spend a life than in promoting and protecting America’s history and culture. It is very...
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From the Executive Director

As a trained historian who has devoted his life to the preservation and teaching of American history, I am embarrassed to admit how little I knew about my own family’s history—only a few bits and pieces passed down from my parents. I was told that our family settled in the old Northwest Territory before Ohio became a state in 1803 and that some of my ancestors came from Pennsylvania. I...
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From the Executive Director

You may have noticed some changes to the masthead in Pennsylvania Heritage. That is because in July Governor Tom Wolf appointed five new citizen members to the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission (PHMC), as well as a new chair. Fourteen commissioners play a vital role in the governance of PHMC, but you may be unaware of what they do or how they are chosen. The composition of the...
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From the Executive Director

Wars should never be celebrated, but they must be remembered and commemorated. December 7, 2016, marks the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the event that brought the United States into World War II, and in April 2017 the centennial of America’s entry into the Great War, later to be known as World War I, begins. With this issue of Pennsylvania Heritage, the Pennsylvania Historical...
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From the Executive Director

Over the past few months I have been spending time with visitors in the new Pennsylvania Icons exhibit at The State Museum of Pennsylvania (see “Pennsylvania Icons: State Treasures Telling the Story of the Commonwealth,” Winter 2016). There is a small but very powerful section of the exhibit entitled “Pennsylvania and the Nation.” It is a dramatic reminder of the close connection between...
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