Executive Director’s Message

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

History is, at best, a diffi­cult and challenging, ever evolving phenomenon – and one which is seemingly impos­sible to record in progress. Or perhaps most people don’t normally think of tracking history while it is occurring. Most of us read daily newspa­pers, listen to the radio, and watch television each and every day. But how many of us actually pause at the end of a year or so to examine what time has wrought?

Well, at the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Com­mission, we try to practice what we preach. Not only do we study, chart and preserve the history of the Common­wealth, but we serve cities, towns and villages, organiza­tions and institutions, ethnic groups and fraternal organiza­tions in an attempt to broaden our perspective. But we also chart our own -that is, the agency’s-history. And to do so is both informative and gratifying!

The Commission has re­cently completed a compre­hensive report on our program operations and developments for the first half of this decade. Entitled The Enterprise of His­tory in Pennsylvania: The 80s, the massive report discusses one hundred and fifty-seven specific topics, initiatives, projects, special activities and public events sponsored or carried out by the agency in recent years. Each topic is covered in a brief factual sum­mary indicating the nature of the program or activity, the manner in which the Com.mis­sion dealt with it, reports or studies that may have been generated in association with the program, and, of course, the results.

While all this sounds rather bureaucratic, examples better illustrate our progress. A re­port describing the Commis­sion’s program serving owners who make use of the federal investment tax credit for certi­fied rehabilitations of historic properties reveals that, from 1982 through 1985, our historic preservation staff approved nearly nine hundred projects, with a total investment of more than a billion dollars. A report on funding shows that the Commission has aggressively entered the grants procure­ment field with major grants from the Institute of Museum Services, the largest grant ever given by the National Histori­cal Publications and Records Commission (more than two hundred thousand dollars) and the successful solicitation of funding from private sources, including foundations and corporations. Other sum­maries cover the creation of unprecedented outreach and public service programs, the establishment of the Preserva­tion Fund of Pennsylvania and the doubling (from twelve to twenty-four) of associate and friends groups supporting our activities.

Not all of The Enterprise of History in Pennsylvania is de­voted to statistics. There has been a conscientious effort in editing the report to assess the direction the agency has taken in recent years and to provide, ultimately, a strong state his­tory program for the institu­tions and individuals of so diverse a Commonwealth. It is our hope in issuing this publi­cation that the study and pres­ervation of history is, after all, an enterprise to which many are devoted – and to which public and private resources and creativity should be ap­plied.

Larry E. Tise
Executive Director