Executive Director’s Message

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

Early next year the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) will review proposals by scholars who wish to use our facilities, collections, and archival holdings to advance their research on topics in the Commonwealth’s history. This scholars-­in-residence program was created two years ago in response to the need to foster collaborations between public history professionals and our colleagues who either work in colleges and universities or who pursue independent research.

In its brief existence our scholars-in-resi­dence program has proven effective in attracting proposals from a diverse array of individuals representing institutions throughout the country. Their research focuses on all aspects of Pennsylvania’s his­tory and covers all periods. Seventy-five proposals have been received and reviewed, and fifteen scholars have been selected in the first two years.

The participating scholars are filling sig­nificant gaps in our knowledge and under­standing of the Keystone State’s past. They are introducing us to new perspectives on primary and secondary sources, in addition to offering new interpretations of our own extensive collections of artifacts, objects, documents, buildings, structures, and land­scapes. Our staff actively participates in the program in several ways. Their understand­ing of state history and of the PHMC’s resources offers valuable support to the scholars during their residencies. The inter­dependency of scholars and agency staff members fulfills one of the central goals of this innovative program. Scholarship ought to be the lifeblood of a public history organi­zation. Yet it is surpris­ing how easily the press of everyday business crowds out this essential function. Without access to the findings and interpre­tations of scholars in history, archaeology, architectural history; and other disciplines, the quality and credi­bility of the PHMC’s programs would undoubtedly suffer. In recent years we have undertaken sev­eral initiatives to assure a prominent role for scholarship. For example, archaeologists of The State Museum of Pennsylvania have led summer field schools which provide valuable training for students, while con­ducting important research at several Commission historic sites. The Commission has strengthened its partnerships with the Pennsylvania Historical Association, the Pennsylvania Archaeological Council, and similar scholarly organizations. Contribu­tions of articles by researchers to Pennsylvania Heritage and other leading periodicals are increasing in both number and quality.

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission can link scholars to new audiences that extend far beyond the classroom. The result will be a greater understanding of the Commonwealth’s history and better scholarship.

Brent D. Glass
Executive Director