Historical Societies: News and Highlights

Historical Societies: News and Highlights presents news and information about Pennsylvania's regional and county historical societies.

Historians Meet

Muhlenberg and Cedar Crest Colleges of Allentown hosted the forty-fifth annual meeting of the Pennsylvania Historical Association. The three-day meeting was held October 21-23 [1976].


Berks Society Hosts Conference

Sixteen historical societies were represented at a Re­gional Conference of the Pennsylvania Federation of Historical Societies October 9 at the Historical Society of Berks County in Reading.

Participants during the morning session dealt with the Library and Archives/Special Materials and during the afternoon, with Source Material on People and Property in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Mrs. LeRoy Sanders, first vice­-president of the PFHS and director of the Library and Archives of the Historical Society of Berks County, coordinated the program.

Two experts in their fields spoke during the morning. Charles W. Mann, chief of Rare Books and Special Collections, The Pennsylvania State University, discussed the identification and vocabulary of rare books. Preservation of rare books and documents was the topic of Willman Spawn, conservator of the American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia.

Sharon Westley, curator of education for the Berks society, briefly discussed her program involving approxi­mately 10,000 area school children and showed a videotape made of her work with the students. Many of the projects are displayed at the society, located at 940 Centre Avenue, Reading.

Other participants were Mary Elizabeth Ruwell, archivist for the 1.N.A. Corporation, Philadelphia, who discussed property insurance as source material, thus giving regis­trants a new source to consider; John Shelly, associate archivist for the State Archives, Harrisburg, who reviewed resources available in the State Archives; Mrs. Sanders, who spoke on Berks County source material on Berks County people and property; and William W. Hummel, professor of history at Albright College, who discussed biographical family histories/the old and the new.

Historical societies represented at the day-long con­ference included: Armstrong Kittanning Trail, Boyertown Area, Bucks County, Chester County, Haverford Township, Indiana County, Jefferson County, Marple-Newtown, Northampton County, Tulpehocken Settlement, West­moreland, Wyoming Historical and Geological Society and the host society of Berks County.


Warren Museum Opened

After nearly twelve months of planning and hard work, a museum for Warren County became a reality when The Honorable Charles Warren Stone Museum opened its doors to the public September 12 [1976]. The former A. J. Hazeltine house at 710 Pennsylvania Avenue West in Warren was purchased last year by the commissioners of Warren County with a gift from Warren County Historical Society board member Joseph H. DeFrees; DeFrees also donated to the society a large collection of firearms which comprises the first major permanent exhibit in the new museum.

The Hazeltine house, built between 1905 and 1907, is a free adaptation of the English Jacobean style in buff brick with Vermont marble lintels and capstones. It remains es­sentially unchanged in appearance, although there are still several more steps remaining in the restoration of the exterior. Abram J. Hazeltine, the original owner, was a Warren banker and a friend and business associate of Charles W. Stone.

Designed by the architect Edward A. Phillips, the home remained in the Hazeltine family until 1928 when it was sold to the American Legion. About 1968 it was purchased by a Warren businessman, Stuart Myers, who used some of the space for offices.

Participating in the September dedication were Dr. Ernest C. Miller, president of the Warren County Historical Society; William J. Wewer, executive director of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission; Chase Putnam, executive director of the Warren County Historical Society; and Joseph H. De Frees.

Following remarks by Miller and Wewer, the door was opened to guests and the public. Mr. DeFrees unveiled a bronze plaque commemorating the contributions to the community of the man for whom the museum was named and the cooperation and support of the Warren County commissioners, Dr. David K. Rice, James G. Marshall, and Thomas J. Donnelly; all were present for the ceremony.

At present, two floors of the building are being used as exhibit areas, and among the items on display are the historical society’s collections of bells and models. In addition, a large basement display area houses an assortment of artifacts of every description from clothing and handmade quilts to utensils, tools and furniture. The displays, some of which are temporary, were mounted by Quinn Smith, WCHS curator of exhibits. In the near future more permanent arrangements will be made for an exhibit using hundreds of artifacts from the society’s collection to graphically illustrate the history of Warren County.


New Book Issued

The Ethnic Heritage Affairs Institute has produced an informative book entitled, Directory of Ethnic Resources of Philadelphia and Delaware Valley. The volume has over 700 annotated listings of programs and organizations of fifty-four ethnic groups in greater Philadelphia. Included is information on religious institutions, political organiza­tions, performing groups, schools, and ethnic radio and television programs. Additionally, over forty background essays on ethnic groups and maps showing their locations are offered. This invaluable guide can be obtained for $3.75 from the Ethnic Heritage Affairs Institute, 1422 Jefferson Building, 1015 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia 19107.


Federal Support for Programs

The National Endowment for the Humanities has begun to extend its support to historical societies. Through its division of public programs, support can now be sought for a wide range of programs in such areas as collection inter­pretation, temporary exhibits, personnel development, and the sharing of collection resources. Because the program is flexible and sensitive to new ideas, societies with particular problems should write the Museums and Historical Organi­zations Program, Division of Public Programs (Mail Stop 402). National Endowment for the Humanities, 806 Fifteenth Street, North West, Washington, D.C. 20506. All interested societies should request Guidelines, Museums and Historical Organizations Program.


“Rising People” Exhibit

“Rising People: The Sounding of the United States – 1765-1789” was the recent exhibit at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Thirteenth and Locust Streets, Philadelphia.

The exhibit contains a combined collection from the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, founded in 1824; the Library Company of Pennsylvania, founded in 1731; and the American Philosophical Society, founded in 1743. A thousand books, letters, maps, portraits and prints com­prised the exhibit.

Items in the exhibit included: the first printing of the Constitution with notations by Benjamin Franklin, Franklin’s copy of the Stamp Act, the “Stamp Act Car­toon,” the broadside announcing the Boston Massacre, the John Dickinson Draft of the Olive Branch Petition, a map of North America hung in Independence Hall in 1776, Jefferson’s manuscript copy of the Declaration of Inde­pendence, “The American Crisis,” Number One, by Thomas Paine, and Washington’s letter of Christmas Day of 1776 informing Colonel Cadwalader of crossing the Delaware that evening, Washington’s field map of the Battlefield of Brandywine, the Constitution of the thirteen states, the Northwest Ordinance, and James Wilson’s first and second draft of the federal Constitution.


Bradford Society Publishes

The Bradford County Historical Society, Towanda, is presently taking orders on two reprint publications by Clement Heverly: History and Geography of Bradford County ($13.50) and Pioneer and Patriot Families ($17.50).

An index of all early settlers in Bradford County has been added to the Pioneer and Patriot Families book. The society has also published Boy of Appalachia by J. Lewis Schanbacker concerning his youth in Grover, Pennsylvania.


Newville Historical Society

The Newville Historical Society, Newville, produced a historical pageant on the history of the Newville-Big Spring region in June. Over one-hundred individuals parti­cipated in the production.


Colonial Philadelphia Historical Society

The Colonial Philadelphia Historical Society has been active in the restoration of Mikveh Israel Cemetery, which was deeded to the Mikveh Israel Congregation in 1783 by John Penn. The cemetery contains the remains of Haym Salomon, financier of the Revolution and over 500 Revolu­tionary War soldiers. A project to raise $50,000 for the refurbishing has been launched with Arthur Klein as chair­person. Much of the funding efforts to date have centered around requests to Philadelphia foundations and the Jewish press. Since the cemetery falls within the confines of Independence National Historic Park, the National Park Service has contributed architectural services to the project.


Recent Historical Society Achievements

The Northampton County Historical and Genealogical Society, Easton, has published Northampton County in the American Revolution by Dr. Richmond E. Myers. The publication represented the society’s major Bicentennial project.


Society Achievements

The Monroe County Historical Society published “A Bicentennial Return to the Monroe County Frontier.” The thirty-six page brochure was compiled by Dr. John C. Appel of East Stroudsburg State College.

The Union County Bicentennial Commission, with Jeannette Lasansky as director has focused on the preser­vation of oral traditions in central Pennsylvania during the past three years. Much material has been recorded con­cerning distilling, butchering, hunting, home remedies, planting, tinsmithing, blacksmithing, quilting, fiddling, superstitions, and basketry. These traditions are usually collected on tape and film by volunteer students, teachers and interested adults and deposited in a library at the Union County Courthouse. The project has served as a basis for teacher in-service training and even a college course at Bucknell University.

A unique concept among Pennsylvania historical societies is the Beaver County Historical Research Office, headed by Gladys L. Hoover. The office is a part of Beaver County government and is responsible for coordinating the efforts of various historical projects within the county, assisting historical groups in preserving county history, and en­couraging the formation of local historical societies. The organization has fostered a diverse program throughout Beaver County, including an annual historical symposium and A Comprehensive History of Beaver County. Such a program could offer a model for other regions in Pennsyl­vania.


Peters Creek Society

The Peters Creek Historical Society Inc. of Finleyville will use “Little House on the Prairie” for its theme in the eleventh Annual Community Bazaar at Seventh Hills Village. The event will be held January 5-8, 1977. The society will sell baked goods, other foods and handicraft items.