Wish You Were Here reflects the value of postcards as tools for learning about the past, with images drawn from Manuscript Group 213, Postcard Collection, Pennsylvania State Archives.

In the peaceful community of Beaver Falls in Beaver County, the 2000 census reported fewer than ten thousand people, two thousand less than when this postcard was mailed in 1910. The demise of the region’s steel industry and close prox­imity to Pittsburgh cannot diminish Beaver County’s scenic beauty and historic significance.

Originally named Brighton, Beaver Falls was incorporated in 1868. Twelve years later, Geneva College, founded in Northwood, Ohio, in 1848, relocated to Beaver Falls after the Harmony Society donated land as an incentive. The college’s Old Main, the larger building depicted, was the first structure, completed in 1881. Set on a hill overlooking the Beaver River, Old Main remains central to the campus today as an administrative and academic center.

The pious Harmony Society, prosperous from successful industrial and business ventures, believed that Geneva College, founded on the principles of Calvinist religious reform, was an ideal choice to add to the prestige of their community. Students, both men and women, soon found the idyllic setting of the Pennsylvania countryside to their liking. The Beaver River offered boating in the sum­mer and ice skating in the winter and the game of baseball was also transplanted as a popular summer pastime. Long after the end of the rail and steel boom, the region’s natural setting continues to offer outdoor recreation and vacation opportunities.

Less than fifteen miles south of Beaver Falls in Ambridge, Butler County, is Old Economy Village, the final home of the college’s benefactor and where George Rapp (1757-1847) and his Harmonists sought to establish a “heaven on earth.” Administered today by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, in 1916 the complex was the first hls­toric site in Pennsylvania purchased by the Commonwealth.

The message on this 1910 postcard, “Have you been a good girl all summer?,” echoes a familiar early twentieth century concern. While the higher education of women was slowly gaining acceptance, so were reminders of the importance of virtuous behavior.

For more information on Beaver County and its recreational and historic sites, visit www.visitbeaver county.com on the Web, or telephone (800) 342-8192.

To plan a visit to Old Economy Village, visit www.oldeconomyvillage.org on the Web; write 270 Sixteenth St., Ambridge, PA 15003-2298; or telephone (724) 266-4500