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

Pennsylvania is creating a new strategic plan for preserving and providing continuing access to our remark­able documentary heritage, the first in nearly twenty years. Sponsored by the State Historical Records Advisory Board (SHRAB) with a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commis­sion, an arm of the National Archives, the plan will enable us to assess the extent and condition of records and documents held at various repositories, both public and private, throughout the Commonwealth. This project will help set priorities for statewide planning and funding efforts.

To develop a better understanding of the issues involved in the administration of historical records, we are conducting five public meetings around Pennsylvania this year. University of Pittsburgh’s School of Information Sciences experts will lead discussions at these meetings and will coordinate the entire study. The SHRAB’s report will be issued late next year.

The strategic plan builds on two projects completed in the past two years. One, a preservation plan for Pennsyl­vania’s documentary heritage, contains proposals for training, collections care, disaster preparedness, and the creation of a state preservation consortium represent­ing libraries, archives, and private organizations. The other project, a survey of documentary repositories, conducted through a grant to the Pennsylvania Federation of Museums and Historical Organizations, yielded valuable informa­tion on more than three hundred organizations in Pennsylvania that collect and preserve documents, records, and related information.

Other important initiatives underway at the Pennsylvania State Archives address our responsibilities under the state records management program. We have established a Document Image Services Center and installed a CD-ROM production service to provide agencies with a cost-effective alterna­tive to paper and film based records. We are also expanding the State Records Center by fifty percent, bringing the total storage capacity to 270,000 cubic feet – enough space to store nearly one billion documents!

The construction of the Keystone Office Building on the site of the former state Transportation and Safety Building adjacent to The State Museum of Pennsyl­vania and the State Archives) offers us the opportunity to accession and maintain an additional twenty-five thousand cubic feet of historical records at the Archives. The relocation of offices, staff library, and museum collections to this new facility will allow us to renovate our public search room and to install enough new shelving at the Archives to meet our needs for the next twenty-five years. Current conserva­tion projects include the restoration of the 1681 Charter granted by King Charles II to William Penn and the delamination of eighteenth-century land patents.

As we look forward to our centennial in 2003, the Pennsylvania State Archives continues to play a unique role as the steward of our documentary heritage, the public and personal papers, records, manuscripts, and photographs that have helped form the history of our Commonwealth. We welcome Pennsylvanians to take part in this exciting endeavor. Individuals interested in participating in the strategic plan should write to me or send me an e-mail (Yes! We now have it!).

Brent D. Glass
Executive Director