Historical Societies: News and Highlights

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

Comments on the Early History of the Pennsylvania Federation of Historical Societies

When members of the historical organizations that com­prise the Pennsylvania Federation of Historical Societies meet June 14 [1975] at The Pennsylvania State University Confer­ence Center, it will be not only a working seminar, but a historic one as well. The Federation dates to 1905 when it was organized in Harrisburg.

In a report prepared in 1941, Donald H. Kent, current assistant executive secretary of the Federation and recently retired director of the Bureau of Archives and History of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, noted that the original purpose of the organization was to promote historical bibliography but that the purpose had been ex­panded to include general encouragement and coordination of local historical activity.

According to the current Federation constitution, “The object of the Federation shall be the inter-change of in­formation and ideas relating to historical activity, the en­couragement of local historical research and the publication of the results; the promotion of historical activity in the Commonwealth and its several subdivisions; and the main­tenance of a co-operative working relationship between the member societies and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.”

Kent noted in his 1941 report that the relationship between member societies and the PHMC involved the Com­mission providing a central headquarters and a more per­manent secretariat. According to Kent’s report, on Septem­ber 28, 1936, representatives of the Federation including A. Boyd Hamilton of Harrisburg and Judge Frank M. Trexler of Allentown met with members of the PHMC in Harrisburg. A policy of close cooperation was formulated, and office space was provided.

In 1941, individual memberships totaled 15,000. Activi­ties included (1) publication of a yearbook (a handbook of information on member groups); (2) an annual meeting in Harrisburg with a program designed to present new ideas; (3) a contest and awards program for activities and publica­tions designed to encourage improvement and to promote the exchange of ideas; (4) personal visitation of societies by the secretary; (5) the organization of committees to study historical problems and to promote their solution (at that time The Cornplanter, Pennsylvania Canal, Archives and Legislative Committees were active); (6) an exchange of ideas through correspondence and the use of the Commission office as a clearing house; and (7) the celebration or recognition of significant anniversaries and events (for example, in 1938, the 175th anniversary of the Battle of Bushy Run was commemorated in Western Pennsylvania, and in 1940 the Cornplanter Committee promoted the ceremonies in conjunction with the adoption of then Gov. Arthur James as a Cornplanter.)

When the Federation meet in June this year [1975], it can reflect upon seventy years as it strives for progress today in an era when persons are perhaps even more interested than ever in seeking their roots.


Regional Workshop Held

Two panels highlighted the February 5 [1975] meeting of the regional workshop, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Federation of Historical Societies. The Presbyterian Historical Society, 425 Lombard Street, Philadelphia, was the location for the day-long event.

John Bodnar, associate historian and director of the Ethnic Studies program for the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, presided at the first discussion on oral history. Panel participants were Alice Hoffman of King of Prussia Campus of The Pennsylvania State University, and Richard Julianni of Temple University.

Philip Mooney of the Balch Institute presided at the panel discussion of “Current Trends in Historical Collection.” Also participating were Frederick Miller, Temple University; James Mooney, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and Gerald W. Gillette, Presbyterian Historical Society.


Historical Societies to Meet June 14

June 14 [1975] is a significant date for officers, directors and members of the Pennsylvania Federation of Historical So­cieties. It will be the sixty-eighth annual meeting of the Federation and will be held at the Keller Conference Center, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park.

Registration will begin at the Convention Center at 9:00 a.m. on June 14 [1975], but earlier registration is encouraged. Forms are to be mailed to: Keller Conference Center, 410 Keller Building, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pa. 16802.

Parking permits will be returned to early registrants. Name, address and affiliation should be furnished. The registration fee, which includes lunch, is $7.00. Checks should be made payable to The Pennsylvania State University.

Three sessions will follow registration: “Celebrating the Bicentennial in Pennsylvania,” “The Records of Modern History” and “Historic Restoration: Problems and Achieve­ments.” After luncheon at the Nittany Lion Inn, a business meeting will be held.

Chairing the first session will be Ruth Salisbury of the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania. Participants will be Robert Young, Bicentennial Commission of Pennsyl­vania, and Henry Putch, Philadelphia Cultural Alliance.

Frank Suran of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission will chair the Records session with Stuart Campbell of Mercyhurst College. Ronald Filapelli of The Pennsyl­vania State University and Frank Zabrowsky of the University of Pittsburgh, participating.

Chairing the Historic Restoration session will be Mrs. Henry C. Patterson of Historic Delaware County. Panel members will be Daniel Gilbert, Historic Bethlehem Inc. and Peggy Fields, Westmoreland County Historical Society.

Philip S. Klein. PHMC commission member and professor emeritus of The Pennsylvania State University, will speak at the luncheon at the Nittany Lion Inn. Federation President Ernest C. Miller will preside at the luncheon and at the business meeting at 1:15 p.m.

The business agenda includes the president’s report, re­port of William J. Wewer, PHMC executive director, and executive secretary of the federation; report of Ralph L. Hazeltine, treasurer; a report of the resolution committee, a report of the awards committee and the election of officers.

Current officers are Jesse L. Hartman, Hollidaysburg, president emeritus; Ernest C. Miller, Warren, president; William D. Gilbert, Sigel, first vice-president; Mrs. LeRoy Sanders, Reading, second vice-president; Robert G. Crist, Camp Hill, third vice-president; Carl Burkett, fourth vice­-president, Meadville; William W. Wewer, Harrisburg, exec­utive secretary; Donald H. Kent, Camp Hill, assistant executive secretary; and Ralph L. Hazeltine, Trucksville, treasurer.

The executive committee, in addition to the officers consists of Homer T. Rosenberger, Waynesboro; Joseph C. Smith, Pittsburgh; William B. Miller, Philadelphia; Philip S. Klein, State College; Harry Hoehler. Wayne; Fred E. Long, Altoona.

Serving on the Awards Committee are Donald A. Crown­over, Lancaster, chairman; Homer T. Rosenberger; Joseph C. Smith and Harry E. Whipkey, Harrisburg.

Hoehler is also chairman of the nominating committee which is membered by Miller and Long.

The resolutions committee consists of Mrs. Robert H. Johnston, Havertown, chairperson; Orvis Anderson, Mercer; Dr. Kent; Daniel R. Gilbert, Bethlehem; Mrs. Henry C. Patterson, Media and Calvin Pollins, Greensburg.


McCoy House

The restored McCoy House serves as headquarters for the Mifflin County Historical Society. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The society plans an evening open house in early July [1975].

The society paid tribute to Mr. and Mrs. J. Martin Stroup at its annual dinner this year. The Stroups have retired as active board members but will continue as directors emeriti. The society presented the Stroups with an engraved plate and a tape recorder to enable them to preserve their knowl­edge of the County and its heritage.

The society selected Donald R. Kauffman as program chairman and Rachel A. Kopel as editor of a newsletter currently being published.


Westmoreland County Society

Westmoreland County Historical Society plans a basket picnic on July 4 [1975] at Hanna’s Town. The society will also sponsor “Ember Day” July 13 [1975], as the anniversary of the burning of Hanna’s Town in 1782. The ceremony will begin at 3:00 p.m. Both of the events are open to the public.

Hanna’s Town Courthouse-Tavern, four miles north of Greensburg off Route 119, will be open for guided tours from 1:00-5:00 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays effective May 3 [1975]. Costumed hostesses describe the historical background and use of the furnishings. They also explain the informa­tion gleaned from diggings at the site.


Lackawanna Hosts Workshop

Sandra Downey of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission presented the award from the Ameri­can Association of State and Local History to the Lacka­wanna Historical Society at a recent Regional Workshop. The workshop, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Federation of Historical Societies, was held at the Lackawanna Society, 232 Monroe Avenue, Scranton. Mrs. Downey also presented remarks on the Anthracite Museum.

The first session, entitled “Clio vs. Agnes: The Wyoming Historical and Geological Society and the Flood of 1972,” was led by William H. Toner, Jr., executive director of the Wyoming association.

John Q. Feller of the University of Scranton discussed “Community Preservation and the Local Historical Society” in Session Two. Dr. Feller is a former executive director of the Lackawanna Society.

Elizabeth Hornet, secretary, French Azilum, Inc., discussed “French Azilum: Past, Present and Future” in the Third Session.

Session Four consisted of optional walking tours of the Caltin House and restored blast furnaces of nineteenth century Scranton. A reception followed.

Rev. William P. Lewis, president of the Lackawanna So­ciety, welcomed the participants.


Warren Fund Created

Proceeds of shares of limited stock given to Warren County by Joseph H. DeFrees, as well as any interest earned since the sale of the stock has been designated the Honorable Charles Warren Stone Fund. After sale of the stock, the fund consists of $97,538.55.

The commissioners of Warren County (currently D. K. Rice, chairman; J. C. Marshall, vice chairman, and Thomas J. Donnelly, secretary) are to operate and control the fund in order to acquire, maintain and support a historical museum, to be called The Honorable Charles Warren Stone Museum.

The commissioners are to perpetuate the property at 210 Fourth Avenue, Warren, as headquarters of the Warren County Historical Society, and they are to support its operation unless a suitable building with four times the floor space of 210 Fourth Avenue be provided by the commissioners for the combined use of the Historical Society and the Historical Museum.

Finally, the commissioners are to submit an annual re­port to the President Judge of the Court of Common Pleas. of the Thirty-seventh Judicial District, Warren County Branch, of the transactions affecting the fund, for the court’s examination and comment.


Clarion County Plans

The Clarion County Historical Society, along with the Clarion County Bicentennial Commission, is engaged in a $100,000 fund drive to purchase a home fronting on the Clarion Park across from the Courthouse as a library/mu­seum. The Historical Society has occupied rooms on the third floor of the Courthouse, but with the recent installation of an elevator these rooms are needed for County offices. Four-fifths of the fund drive is for the purchase of a building, and the remaining one-fifth is for the restoration of Helen Iron Furnace near Cook Forest.

A booklet, Clarion County and its Beginnings, edited by society president Helen Urban, is at the printer’s now and is scheduled for June [1975] sale and distribution.

A kick-off dinner for the fund drive was held April 24 [1975] at Mayfield Country Club; 130 persons attended who are involved in “Project 76,” the name given to the fund drive. “Shares” at $76.00 each, suitable for framing, are being sold in the Project.