Executive Director’s Message

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

It is with feelings of regret and sadness, mixed with satis­faction, that I write my last column as executive director of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. As the new director of the old and distinguished American Asso­ciation for State and Local History (AASLH), I will be working on the national level, doing some of the same things I have done for the past four­teen years in North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

It seems only yesterday that I arrived in Harrisburg to be­come the Commission’s fourth executive director since it was reorganized in 1945. There is no doubt that this has been one of the most exciting, chal­lenging and rewarding periods one could ever hope to experi­ence during the course of a lifetime. My time here has called forth creativity, cooperation between and among groups and individuals, and dramatic steps to insure that Pennsylvania has the innova­tive leadership our state his­tory deserves.

The varied activity has brought forth many fruits that my colleagues, the Commis­sioners, and I will be able to savor for many years. We have taken positive steps to prepare for the future. Through our property placement program, the expansion of our Friends and the establishment of a major maintenance program, the Commission is now prop­erly caring for its abundant store of real property. Through the Preservation Fund of Penn­sylvania and an aggressive staff of historic preservation­ists, Pennsylvania is the lead­ing state in the number of buildings saved and in the use of federal tax credits for that purpose. Through a greatly expanded local government records program, a local his­tory grant program and a total revamping of the State Ar­chives, Pennsylvania is now able to work directly with the thousands of local govern­ments and the many historical organizations in the state.

With the support of friends, associate groups and staff, and a greater use of incentive grants and other special fund­ing programs, the Commission now has available to it nearly twice the resources it had six years ago. The Commission, moreover, has become a major granting agency through its museum assistance program and can now work directly with the Commonwealth’s five hundred museums. Through a great number of cooperative endeavors with government and private organizations, much is being done to chart, analyze and protect major segments of Pennsylvania’s history – its highway bridges, historic public buildings and parks, and state boundary markers. Joint programs with the Historical Society of Penn­sylvania, the Pennsylvania Federation of Historical Soci­eties and the Pennsylvania Humanities Council have greatly expanded services to citizens and organizations.

The list could be continued. One of the achievements of which I am most proud has been the expansion, redesign and fabulous improvement of Pennsylvania Heritage. Not only has it won a number of awards for its design and content, but it has become one of the most attractive and effective state history magazines in the nation.

I am delighted that in my new position I will be able to nationalize many of the things we have done in Pennsylvania and that I will be able to con­tinue working with both the Commission and the many other historical organizations and friends I have made through­out the Commonwealth. My grateful thanks to one and all who have made this time memorable and rewarding!

Larry E. Tise
Executive Director