From the Executive Director features news and reflections on the work of PHMC by its chief administrator.

Each year Penn State Harrisburg’s Center for Survey Research conducts a statewide poll. This year’s survey asked a sampling of residents how important Pennsylvania fhistory is to them and in what ways do they experience or support it. Over the years, Pennsylvania Heritage Society members and readers of Pennsylvania Heritage have regularly expressed their deep appreciation for the history and heritage of our Commonwealth. We know Pennsylvania Heritage Society members value our history and are willing to support the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s mission to preserve and interpret it.

Survey responses reveal many Pennsylvanians share the sentiment.

Asked to rank the importance of Pennsylvania history on a scale of 1 to 5, more than 36 percent of the respondents rated it most important and less than 10 percent rated it in the two least important categories. In every age category from 18 to 75 and above, at least one third of the respondents selected “most important” to describe what Pennsylvania history means to them. We learned Pennsylvanians experience and support history by actively participating in a variety of activities. The poll shows that 86 percent visit historic sites, 81 percent tour museums, 79.9 percent watch television productions, 67.9 percent support local historic preservation efforts, 63.7 percent read books, 61.1 percent research family history, 53.8 percent attend special events or programs, 38.5 percent visit Web sites, 32.5 percent attend classes, 16.4 percent hold membership in a historical society or similar organization, and 12.7 percent participate in living history reenactments. The numbers are encouraging.

We hope the articles and information in Pennsylvania Heritage continue to inspire you to take advantage of the many ways you can explore the Commonwealth’s rich and diverse history. Celebrating Pennsylvania’s 326th birthday, Heritage Week 2007 — observed from Friday through Sunday, March 9–18 — offers special programs for Pennsylvania Heritage Society members at The State Museum of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania State Archives in Harrisburg, as well as at historic sites and museums on our popular Pennsylvania Trail of History. Heritage Week is the only time we exhibit the fragile 1681 Charter granted by England’s King Charles II to founder William Penn. Pennsylvania State Archives staff will present the fascinating story of the Commonwealth’s origins during “Charter Chats” scheduled throughout the week. On Thursday, March 8, Heritage Society members will have an opportunity to preview the Charter exhibition at The State Museum, and enjoy historian Randall Miller’s fascinating Signature Series presentation, “’The Last Best Hope’?: The American Civil War in Memory and Meaning.”

Family reunion workshops at several PHMC historic sites and museums on Charter Day, Sunday, March 11, offer valuable assistance to families planning reunions or individuals interested in pursuing family history projects. Log on to to learn more.

No matter how you celebrate your connections to Pennsylvania history, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and the Pennsylvania Heritage Society are great places to start.

Barbara Franco
Executive Director, PHMC