Executive Director’s Message

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

Larry E. Tise assumed the post of executive director of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission this past April. He comes to the PHMC from North Carolina where, for the past six years, he served as director of the North Carolina Division of Archives and History and as North Carolina state historic preservation officer.

The new executive director received his A.B. from Duke University and graduated from the Divinity School of that same institution. He attained his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he completed his dissertation, “Proslavery Ideology: A Social and Intellectual History of the Defense of Slavery, 1790-1840,” which is currently being revised for publication. in addition, Dr. Tise has produced over two dozen publications on topics related to historic preservation; archives management; historic sites and museums; and public, social, religious and urban history.

His varied interests have led him to participate in a num­ber of national historical organizations. His professional offices and appointments include the Education Committee of the American Association for State and Local History; the Nominating Committee of the American Historical Association; chairman of the Historic Preservation Com­mittee of the Organization of American Historians; the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation; the Commission on Archives and History of the United Methodist Church; the National Council on Public History; and chairman and coordinator of research in the Monitor Marine Sanctuary of the U.S.S. Monitor Technical Advisory Committee. Dr. Tise is also a trustee and project review officer of the Kellenberger Historical Foundation.

In future issues of Heritage, Dr. Tise will continue to share with you his views concerning the direction of the PHMC and its programs, as well as his thoughts on public history in Pennsylvania.


I will begin my voyage through the currents of Pennsyl­vania history at the very beginning. I am gratified for the opportunity to participate in the shaping of the history of history in Pennsylvania. I am grateful to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission for the opportunity to ply these waters. I am whelmed (but I hope not overly) with the monumental proportions of the task ahead. l am taken with the landscape, people, history and culture(s) of Pennsylvania. I am mindful of the great traditions in the pursuit and practice of public history established and fol­lowed by the Pennsylvania Historical Commission from 1913 and the broader Historical and Museum Commission since 1945. I shall to the extent possible pursue and carry out the public and professional trust for history placed by the Commission in the hands of the executive director.

It is clear that the time has come for a new departure in the realm of public history in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. I view the departure not as an abrupt sever­ance with the past, but rather as the grasping of current and newly arising opportunities. For as I review the current status of public history in Pennsylvania as pursued by the Commission on behalf of the Commonwealth, I am greatly impressed at the financial and public support that has been provided in the past to give Pennsylvania perhaps the most sophisticated and highly developed group of publicly owned and operated historic sites and museums of any state in the nation. I am also impressed with the richness of Pennsylvania’s history that can and should be interpreted through these facilities and the grand manner in which it has been taught in the past. And I am impressed that Penn­sylvania has built up one of the largest and most compre­hensive state historical staffs and programs in the nation.

But there are even larger worlds in the realm of public history to be explored and conquered in Pennsylvania. The Commonwealth’s archival program must be greatly en­hanced if it is to meet the destiny of a comprehensive state archives. Our historic preservation program must grow beyond its embryonic beginnings if we are to serve all those people and organizations who have become involved in efforts to preserve elements of the historic built environ­ment. There must be a much larger interplay between the programs and capabilities of the Commission and all those citizens interested in and involved in the study, preservation and understanding of historical materials – whether they be in the form of records, artifacts and objects, furnishings, archaeological sites, historic properties or museums. And there must be in all programs and facilities of the Commis­sion ever greater opportunities for citizens to participate with professionals in achieving these objectives.

I look toward a day which, I trust, will not be too long in arriving in which any citizen of the Commonwealth and any professional or dedicated amateur in the realms of his­tory, manuscripts, historic sites, historic preservation, archaeology or museums will view the programs, offices and portals of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Com­mission as inviting and challenging places where one may pursue his or her interest in Pennsylvania history. And I trust that many who are not now aware of the Commis­sion’s programs will receive direct and alluring invitations to join with us in examining and preserving this history of what I conceive to be historically the richest, most diverse and perennially fascinating land in the galaxy of the Ameri­can states.

I hope that all readers of Pennsylvania Heritage and thousands of others not now familiar with this valuable publication will join with us in this new departure.

Larry E. Tise