Executive Director’s Message

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

One of the great pleasures of working with the Pennsylva­nia Historical and Museum Commission is that I have the op­portunity to come into contact with thousands of its friends and associates throughout the Commonwealth. At many of the older and larger historic sites and museums, dedicated volunteers have long been organized into what the Commis­sion calls “Associate” groups. Beginning more than a quarter century ago, groups of volunteers began coming together at such places as Old Economy Village (the Harmonie Associ­ates), Ephrata Cloister (the Ephrata Associates) and the Farm Museum (Landis Valley Associates). In later years, ad­ditional groups were formed at Pennsbury Manor (Pennsbury Society), Washington Crossing (Washington Crossing Foundation), Fort Pitt (Fort Pitt Associates) and the Lumber Museum (Lumber Museum Associates). Throughout the 1970s, these groups of committed friends began to play an in­creasingly larger role in the lives and programs of Commis­sion sites and museums.

The partnership between public and private sector, between government and citizen, between professional and volunteer has been so successful in nurturing our programs that we have begun an effort to develop similar groups at virtually all of our major historic sites and museums. During the last few years, new groups have emerged at Eckley Village, the Wil­liam Penn Memorial Museum, the Flagship Niagara (Niagara League), the Scranton Anthracite Museum, Hope Lodge, Brandywine Battlefield and the Railroad Museum. Elsewhere, additional groups, consisting always of citizens interested in the programs and development of a specific historic property, are also being formed.

The response to our invitations to organize and enter into partnership has been satisfying indeed. Two years ago, we be­gan urging the existing and emerging groups to expand their memberships, their recruitment of volunteers, and their solici­tation of gifts and grants. We were gratified at the conclusion of the first year of promotion to learn that the work of the combined groups had resulted in additional financial support for Commission programs of $400,000 and in volunteer work hours, valued at $5 per hour, of $399,000 – a total of $799,000 in additional support.

While we were somewhat reluctant to ask our friends to do more beyond this generous support, we overcame our modesty and did so. The results were again amazing. During calendar year 1982, the Associate groups expanded their com­bined income to $512, I 05 and increased the value of volunteer hours to $491,315. In addition, they began seeking grant sup­port from foundations and corporations and derived a first­-year total in this category of $135,830. Additional support for Commission programs increased from $799,000 in 1981 to $1,139,250 in 1982. Above and beyond these totals, one group received a donation in real property valued at $400,000. Pres­ently, 6,398 citizens of Pennsylvania are enrolled in one or more of the Associate groups, and during 1982 more than 97 ,000 people participated in activities and events sponsored by our wonderful Associates.

The continued growth and expansion of these groups is one of the crucial ingredients in the renaissance of the programs and properties of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. As we continue to depend more heavily upon non-government funds and resources, Associates become in­creasingly important in helping to chart and assure the quality and excellence of our programs. We are grateful to existing Associate groups and to those which are emerging. We are even more grateful to the many citizens of Pennsylvania who have joined in to make them strong and interesting. We invite every citizen of the Commonwealth to become involved at any of our historic sites and museums where a group is already at work or where a new group is needed. Call or visit any site or museum for more information.

Larry E. Tise