Executive Director’s Message

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

Historians are expressing a grave concern that ours is a generation that is not learning history and that our schools are not promoting the study of history as a vital part of the educational process. Some students look upon the classroom presentation of history as lacking in opportunities for a personal relationship with historic events, persons, and places. They say that history does not instill the excitement to create in-depth interest.

Actually, there is more interest today in history-related activities than we have ever experienced. A strong national concern for the preservation of our cultural environment has lead to unprecedented activity in preserving historic sites and the creation of new local historical organizations to preserve these cultural resources.

This new feeling also reflects a desire of the people to be in touch with themselves and to establish a personal relationship to material culture and events of their locale. Ethnic and minority history reflects this pride in individual origins. Oral history’s popularity can be traced to the need for a personal experience since it involves systematically collecting the recollections of our older citizens.

More people are visiting museums today than ever before, and there are more museums to visit. The National Research Center for the Arts determined through surveys that 93 percent of the people in the United States believe that facilities such as museums, theatres and concert halls are important to the quality of life in their communities.

In spite of a dwindling interest in history in the classroom, interest in history outside of the classroom paradoxi­cally grows stronger. What might be considered short­comings in the classroom can be overcome by reaching beyond to the use of the community and its cultural resources to teach history. The museum, historic site, and local historical society can play a vital role in an extended program to provide the student with an experience in history to which he can personally relate. We must continue to encourage use of our museums by our schools, not as a substitution foe classroom study of history, but as an in­tegral element in a complete program for teaching history. Perhaps then we will have a generation that is not only learning history, but also enjoying it.

William J. Wewer
Executive Director