Editor's Letter is an introduction to the contents and themes of each issue of Pennsylvania Heritage by the editor.

I realize that as the new editor of Pennsylvania Heritage I have some very big shoes to fill. Michael J. O’Malley III, editor of the magazine for the past three decades of its 40-year existence, warns me with characteristic humor that his size 14s are indeed large. So too, I’d add, is his legacy.

Under Michael’s leadership Pennsylvania Heritage has grown tremendously. In the 1980s, following in the tradition of his predecessor and mentor Douglas H. West, Michael began by choosing informative and entertaining articles about the Commonwealth’s past. But he went further in both content and style, taking the publication to a new level beyond other public state history magazines at that time. Engaging Pennsylvania’s most informed authors, while also showcasing the skills of the learned professionals within PHMC, he ensured that the articles in each issue were relevant and meaningful for us in the present. He established a variety of popular departments, highlighting the salient activities of PHMC and the prized holdings in its vast collections. It should be noted, too, that hundreds of unsigned articles appearing in the magazine through the years can be attributed to Michael.

In the 1990s Michael introduced a series of compelling interviews with famous Pennsylvanians who not only touched us in the Keystone State but are highly regarded worldwide – James Michener, Kitty Carlisle Hart, Fred Rogers, David McCullough, Dick Clark and Mike Schmidt to name a few. But he was also devoted to telling the stories of the state’s everyday citizens. At the turn of the millennium, for instance, he initiated the Pennsylvania Memories series that with each edition shared the fascinating reminiscences of one individual, including a railroader, a coal miner, a Civilian Conservation Corps worker, a flood survivor and witnesses to the great moments that have shaped and challenged the state – World War II, the outbreak of polio, the birth of rock and roll and the accident at Three Mile Island. In his time Michael managed a talented staff, including the recently retired art director Kimberly L. Stone, with whom he ushered in the increased use of color and filled the magazine with stunning photographs and paintings.

As we salute Michael’s distinguished career with this edition, we also celebrate two anniversaries. PHMC’s ambitious and popular Historical Marker Program turns 100 this year. Who better to tell that story than former marker program coordinator John K. Robinson and current coordinator Karen Galle? In “A Century of Marking History,” the authors take us from the first elaborate stone marker at Fort McCord to the current blue-and-yellow, pole-mounted plates that are familiar sights to everyone traveling the streets and highways of the Keystone State.

Pennsbury Manor, the reconstructed estate of Pennsylvania’s founder and first proprietor, William Penn, celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. In this edition’s Hands-On History department, longtime site director Douglas A. Miller gives an account of the development of Pennsbury Manor and the accomplishments of the employees and volunteers who have made the site a first-class attraction since 1939.

We also bring to a close the Commonwealth’s observance of the American Civil War’s 150th anniversary with two relevant features. In “How They Served,” archivist and historian Richard C. Saylor describes the experiences of five diverse Union soldiers from Pennsylvania who fought in the conflict, focusing on the rewards – and in one case the punishment – for their activities. In “War and Tranquility: From Gettysburg to Glen with Robert Bruce Ricketts,” freelance journalist Dave Pidgeon contrasts a 24-year-old captain’s struggle in the bloody combat on East Cemetery Hill at the Battle of Gettysburg with the serenity of the extraordinary waterfalls he later preserved that are now part of Ricketts Glen State Park.

Although I doubt my size 9s will ever grow into shoes as large as Michael O’Malley’s, I’m honored to have this opportunity to take the helm of Pennsylvania Heritage and build on the legacy he established. I hope you’ll find it to be a good fit.

Kyle R. Weaver