Editor's Letter is an introduction to the contents and themes of each issue of Pennsylvania Heritage by the editor.

Most, if not all, contributors to Pennsylvania Heritagewrite for the sheer fascination of – and, in some cases, love for – their subjects. Although many enjoy careers in the history and museum communities as curators, researchers, historians, and educators, others are accountants, lawyers, even elected officials. Still others are retirees and homemakers who have compelling stories to tell. It’s this rich meld of writers and their unique perspectives that give us such insightful and provocative features.

William C. Kashatus, who’s been writing for Pennsylvania Heritage for nearly as long as I’ve been editor, turns out another memorable feature in this edition with his profile of Pennsylvania born and bred Jimmy Stewart. Bill takes us back to the actor’s hometown of Indiana, Indiana County, and shatters a number of misconceptions. Who knew the folksy, small-town Stewart prepped at Mercersburg Academy and graduated from Princeton University? (I didn’t.) Or that his family was affluent. (Didn’t know that either.) “Jimmy Stewart’s Wonderful Life Began in Pennsylvania” chronicles the performer’s life, from growing up in western Pennsylvania to skipping across Broadway stages and lighting up the silver screen. Stewart’s was truly an award-winning career and stellar life.

The debate about the Pottsville Maroons has raged for more than eighty-five years, since 1925, when the Schuylkill County team was denied the National Football League (NFL) championship on a technicality. In “The Pottsville Maroons, Cheated Again and Again,” Sarah Hodon takes us back in time to the rough and tumble early years of the NFL and what she describes as “coal region football” in the land of hard coal and cold beer. It’s football at its best – or worst.

Colleague Richard C. Saylor, archivist for the Pennsylvania State Archives, offers a fascinating portrait of a Pennsylvania governor hailed in his day as the Hero of the Johnstown Flood in “The Indefatigable Daniel Hartman Hastings.” Inaugurated governor in 1895, Hastings deftly navigated the political quagmire that hallmarked Pennsylvania during the late nineteenth century. Rich is the author of the national award-winning Soldiers to Governors: Civil War Veterans Who Became State Leaders, published last year by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC). Amy Killpatrick Fox discusses the book and the prestigious award in her installment of Trailheads in this edition. Copies of Solders to Governors can be purchased online at www.shoppaheritage.com.

With this issue, Pennsylvania Heritage concludes its coverage of PHMC’s annual theme for 2011, “William Penn’s Legacy: Religious and Spiritual Diversity.” PHMC is now gearing up for our 2012 annual theme, “The Land of Penn and Plenty: Bringing History to the Table,” through which we’ll explore a host of topics, such as traditional and regional foodways, the Commonwealth’s role as an agrarian state, and the popular farm to table movement.

If you, like me, are always searching for ways to stay active and involved, look no further than PHMC’s “This is My History,” a campaign which invites Pennsylvanians to contribute photographs of their cherished local landmarks to illustrate and promote the 2012-2017 Preservation Plan for Pennsylvania. Individuals are encouraged to submit photographs of places they and their communities treasure, such as archaeological sites, pristine rural landscapes, residential neighborhoods, downtown streetscapes, and restored or rehabilitated historic buildings and structures. It’s your opportunity to proudly show your civic pride and commitment to preserving our history!

With all best wishes.

Michael J. O’Malley III