Executive Director’s Message

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

Among those things about which we are justly proud and want to share fully with friends of Pennsylvania his­tory is the recent completion of the new Archives-Land Records Search Room located in the Commission’s Archives Building in Harrisburg. This remodeled and expanded area will be a welcome addition to the research facilities for all who wish to make use of the extensive holdings of both the Pennsylvania State Ar­chives and the Common­wealth’s Land Office.

Shortly after the completion of the State Archives Build­ing in 1965, staff and visitors soon began to realize the limitations of the space which had been provided for the study of Commission research material. The Search Room was small, drafty in winter and hot in summer. Noise was also a problem, either from the operation of squeaky micro­film readers or from the foot­steps and commotion created by those who, of necessity, were forced to pass through the room on their way from one side of the building to the other. Over the years, re­searchers have exhibited in­credible patience in working in what we all agree had been a less than perfect atmos­phere.

All of that has now changed. To those who have never before visited our research facilities, we welcome you. To those who quite admirably endured the old Search Room, we extend an invitation to visit again. Those who visit will find a greatly expanded work space, totally rede­signed from top to bottom to be quieter, more comfortable and more convenient. The ceiling and lighting systems have been replaced and car­peting now cushions the floor. This new feature, coupled with a new traffic pattern which limits the area to patrons and reference service staff, makes the Search Room more conducive to research. Noisy microfilm readers have been confined to a specified area where they should be less distracting.

These efforts to improve the Search Room are but a part of a much larger Commis­sion project that is underway to upgrade and revolution­ize both security and safety in the William Penn Memorial Museum and the State Archives Building. We have been able to convert space in the com­plex which now provides us with the capabilities to do some of the things we should have been doing for many years. For one, we will now have secure storage for a major collection of security microfilm from local govern­ments throughout Pennsyl­vania. For another, we will also be able to further develop areas in which to conserve items, be they objects or docu­ments, from our rich and varied collections. Systems have been installed to protect not only the great treasures stored and exhibited in both buildings, but to ensure the safety of the people who work in and make use of the facili­ties or take part in the pro­grams offered there.

While some parts of this major project are still under­way, we are proud that the badly-needed remodeling of the Search Room has been completed. We are so pleased with the final results that we encourage all who desire to make use of our archival hold­ings to visit us and research in comfort.

Larry E. Tise
Executive Director