Historical Societies: News and Highlights

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

Federation of Historical Societies: Report on the Annual Meeting

At the 72nd annual meeting of the Pennsylvania Federation of Historical Societies held May 5, Mr. Robert G. Crist of Camp Hill was elected as the organization’s new President. Previous­ly, Mr. Crist served as First Vice Presi­dent of the federation which is com­prised of 174 county and local histori­cal societies throughout the Common­wealth. He will succeed Mrs. Aimee D. Sanders of Reading who was named President Emeritus.

In other activities conducted at the meeting, the Westmoreland County Historical Society was presented with the second annual S. K.StevensAward. The award, given in memory of the late Dr. Stevens who served as Execu­tive Director of the PHMC, consists of a certificate and $500 and is presented to a member society by the Pennsyl­vania Historical Foundation. To be honored with the award, a society must have in the last year received recognition from the American Asso­ciation for State and Local History, which the Westmoreland County or­ganization did for six outstanding historical publications including Fire­side Recipes and Homespun Hints. Dr. Philip S. Klein, a PHMC commis­sioner and President of the Pennsylvania Historical Foundation, presented the award to William F. Porter, Presi­dent Emeritus, and Edward Nolin, President, representing the society.

Federation Awards of Merit were presented to the following societies: Historical Society of York County, York, recognized for excellence in programs, including “The Philadel­phia Chair – 1685-1785” and “Quills: Piecing America’s Past,” both exhibits, and its annual summer internship program, a six-week training effort done in cooperation with York College of Pennsylvania; Presbyterian Histori­cal Society, Philadelphia, honored for its successful development of major programs, including an oral history program to record interviews of dis­tinctive American Presbyterian minis­ters and the establishment of a histor­ical sites marker program in which 174 sites in the nation were thus recog­nized; and Harmonie Associates, Inc., Ambridge, cited for assistance provided to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in the preserva­tion and interpretation of Old Econ­omy Village, Ambridge.

Federation certificates of Honor­able Mention were also granted to the following groups: Beaver Area Heritage Foundation, Beaver, for its news­letter. Foundation: Tioga County His­torical Society, Wellsboro, for its local history, From Buckskins to Baseball; and the Perry Historians, Newport, for its annual publication, The Perry Re­view, and Perry County, A Pictorial History.

In a lone resolution, federation representatives urged the legislature and the governor to give all possible assistance to the PHMC in observance of the 300th anniversary of the found­ing of Pennsylvania by William Penn. Plans are now being formulated by the Commission for a 25-month-long obser­vance beginning March 14, 1981, the anniversary of the signing of the charter granting Pennsylvania to Penn by England’s King Charles II.


Carlisle Indian School Centennial

The year 1979-80 will mark the centennial of the famous old Carlisle Indian School which admitted its first students Oct. 6, 1879. The Cumber­land County Historical Society will observe the anniversary with a series of events which began this summer with an exhibition of selected photographs of students, faculty, administrators, school buildings, classroom scenes and sports. A series of lectures during the fall and winter by authorities on Indian affairs are also planned and the annual dinner of the society on Oct. 18 [1979] will be devoted to the centennial. In addition, a reissue of a history of the Indian school written in 1909 for the historical society by the school’s founder and first superintendent, Richard H. Pratt, will be completed.

For the past year, with the help of CETA funding, the society has been putting together an alphabetical listing of students, staff and faculty drawn from the various Indian school publi­cations in the society’s large collec­tion. When completed, the directory will contain over five thousand names. The only other known listing is in the files of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Washington. D.C. Later, an audio-visual account of the institution will also be prepared and made available to schools and other nonprofit groups. The obser­vance will close with a major exhibi­tion of Indian school memorabilia run­ning through U1e spring and summer of 1980.

Pierson K. Miller, President of the Cumberland County Historical Society, characterizes the purpose of the cele­bration: “The Carlisle Indian School was in existence for only thirty-nine years, closing in 1919, but no other educational institution in America in operation for such a short time has had so much national renown and influence. The school was the first serious effort by the U.S. Govern­ment to educate Indian youth for the white man’s world at a school far removed from any reservation.”

The policies and curriculum of the school were revolutionary for the day and highly controversial. Social anthro­pologists, humanitarians, ethnologists and spokesmen for minority groups are still divided over the issues of Indian education. Pratt, the founder, believed their schooling should pro­vide the young Indians with skills and values which would enable them to leave the reservation and compete on equal terms. He was for quick and complete integration and entry into the mainstream of American life. A famous aspect of the curriculum was the “Outing System” by which selected students spent varying periods (up to a year) in the homes or on the farms of white families in a further effort to immerse the Indian boys and girls in the white man’s culture and way of life.

The school, which opened only three years after the massacre of Custer’s soldiers at Little Bighorn by the Sioux, nourished and soon the en tire nation knew of the great experi­ment going on in Carlisle. Students came from every tribe and all parts of Alaska and in some years the student body numbered close to fifteen hun­dred. Gala occasions for school and town were the formal visits by famous chiefs.

As President Miller notes, “The Carlisle experiment was noble in con­cept and is well worth recalling.”


Historical Society Notes

Through funding by the National Museum Act, the American Association for State and Local History now offers grants for securing consultants to any museum or historical agency needing general assistance with planning on specific advice for an active program. Applications are received in January, April, July and October. Institutions with operating budgets. of less than $50,000 pay only lodging and meal expenses for the consultant; those with budgets over $50,000 pay for half of the consultant’s travel expenses and all local expenses. It is the responsibility of the AASLH to put the con­sultant and the agency in touch with each other. Interested organizations should write the Education Division, AASLH, 1400 Eighth Ave., South, Nashville, TN 37203.

The National Endowment for the Humanities supports a wide range of programs for Museums and Historical Organizations. Please write the Divi­sion of Public Programs, NEH, 806 15th St., N.W., Washington, DC 20506.