Executive Director’s Message

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

Pennsylvania Heritage first rolled off the presses nearly thirty years ago with the Winter 1974 edition. The slim, twenty­-page inaugural issue had a nominal first run but, by the end of the first year, circu­lation reached three hundred subscribers, most of them affiliated with county histor­ical societies.

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) launched Pennsylvania Heritage for a broad spectrum of readers with diverse interests. Through the years, staff mem­bers have painstakingly ensured that it remained dedicated exclusively to exploring the Keystone State’s history, culture, and art. Thought-provoking arti­cles investigate our collective heritage, much good, some “not-so-good.” Pennsylvania Heritage remains enlightening and educational, balanced in content and geo­graphic coverage, and is, by all means, historically accurate.

Color covers debuted with the Spring 1979 edition, followed five years later by a bold new interior design with dynamic graphics and interior color. The PHMC, after several thorough studies, made well­-informed decisions to not add commercial advertising. To keep the magazine afford­able and within the reach of every Pennsylvanian we took on a partner – the Pennsylvania Heritage Society (PHS).

Competition for readers’ attention is constant and keen, and choices for con­sumers in general have never been greater. Growing readership for periodicals such as Pennsylvania Heritage and membership in organizations such as the Pennsylvania Heritage Society are constantly being chal­lenged. The organization and the maga­zine face several difficulties, chief among them the spiraling costs of mounting membership campaigns and subscription promotions. The Pennsylvania Heritage Society and Pennsylvania Heritage will undoubtedly stand the proverbial test of time, but we need to implement innova­tive ways to make more Pennsylvania resi­dents and visitors aware of these resources and opportunities.

We know a market exists for what we offer and that Pennsylvania Heritage is an exceptional value – and one made even more attractive when combined with an individual membership in the Pennsylva­nia Heritage Society. This membership package – available for just thirty-five dol­lars a year – includes four issues of the magazine; unlimited, free general admis­sion to the PHMC’s historic sites and museums; discounts on PHMC books and publications; and reduced registration fees for conferences and workshops.

By the time you read this issue, a select group of PHMC and PHS staffers will have convened several “brainstorming” sessions to discuss high­-yield, cost-effective ways to expand the organization’s membership; increase the magazine’s visibility; reiterate the agency’s role in preserving and protecting the legacies entrusted to its care; and implement new ways to share our proud history. Their charge is weighty: to identi­fy innovative solutions, creative ideas, and trends in marketing and promoting the Pennsylvania Heritage Society and Pennsylvania Heritage.

If you feel so challenged, I would wel­come your thoughts about the magazine.

John C. Wesley
Interim Executive Director