Historical Societies: News and Highlights

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

Charles M. Snyder, Union County Historian

One of the roles which Pennsylvania Heritage seeks to fill is that of giving recognition to Pennsylvanians who have made notable contributions to local history. That there need be no dichotomy between this field on the one hand, and State and national history on the other, is epitomized in the career of Mifflinburg historian Dr. Charles M. Snyder. “He has been able to enjoy his love for history as a vocation and as an avocation,” proclaims the dust jacket of the recent Union County, Pennsylvania: A Bicentennial History, of which Dr. Snyder is the principal author and the editor. “His search has led him to dusty attics, tangled graveyards, private diaries. faint ledgers, worn family bibles and tattered newspaper clippings. He has spent hours interviewing people, written distant relatives and put many miles on his red Volkswagen criss-crossing the county … ”

This is the same Charles McCool Snyder whose book The Jacksonian Heritage: Pennsylvania Politics, 1833-1848 – developed from his doctoral dissertation at the University of Pennsylvania – was published by the Historical and Museum Commission in 1958. (It is, incidentally, still in print.) Between the publication of these two books were fourteen years as professor of history at the State University of New York, College of Arts and Sciences, Oswego – an institution which he served until his retire­ment in 1972, after having joined its faculty in 1946 – and the publication of several historical works growing out of his research in the Empire State, including two volumes on his adopted city of Oswego.

“Surviving records have little to say about the role of the female sex” in Union County’s early growth, Dr. Snyder lamented in his chapter on women in the county’s Bicentennial history. To his credit, several of his own works have focused on notable American women. This includes the book Dr. Mary Walker: The Little Lady in Pants, published in 1962 and recently reprinted by Arno Press, and the article “Anna Ella Carroll, Political Strategist and Gadfly of President Fillmore,” which appeared in the spring, 1973, Maryland Historical Magazine. Published just two years ago was his four hundred-page volume, The Lady and the President: The Letters of Dorothea Dix & Millard Fillmore. Of material aid to this and other of Dr. Snyder’s writings on Fillmore was the uncovering of a quantity of the nineteenth-century President’s papers in a farmhouse about fifteen miles outside Oswego.

Born February 13, 1909, in the Union County com­munity of Glen Iron, Snyder spent much of his boyhood in Mifflinburg and wrote a history of the latter town for his high school graduation. His wife, Mary Burrowes Snyder, had lived in Milton, and during his teaching years in Oswego they often returned to central Pennsylvania for short visits. He always had “a feeling for the region,” and in the fall of 1972 upon his retirement they made the move to his old home town of Mifflinburg. Before long Dr. Snyder was immersed in research and writing for the 324-page history sponsored by the Union County Bicen­tennial Commission. Until recently he was president of the Union County Historical Society – headed now by Nada R. Gray – and he continues his research, presently delving into assessment records. Thus is Pennsylvania again the direct beneficiary of this tireless historian’s efforts.


Fourteenth Americana Forum

The Fourteenth Annual Pennsbury Manor Americana Forum will be held on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, September 14, 15, 16 and 17 [1978]. The topics to be covered are textiles – their manufacture and use; wall coverings; and prints as ornamentation. For further information contact Mrs. Anne Woodward, Bureau of Historic Sites and Properties, Box 1026, Harrisburg 17120, (717) 787-7522.


Historical Society Notes

The Historical Society of York County again is sponsoring its summer intern program. The program consists of a six-week cooperative training session with York College of Pennsylvania, June 12 through July 22, designed to provide both practical and theoretical experience for students contemplating museum-related careers. Staffed by museum professionals, scholars, and collectors, it provides invaluable background and exposure for persons seriously considering the fields of education, history, the decorative arts, and the behavioral sciences.

The program is divided into four parts. The first is a series of formal lectures on museum administration. Se­condly, interns visit other museums to evaluate various techniques being studied. A group project featuring cataloging, registration, and exhibit design will also be under­taken. Finally, each student must complete an individual project.

The Hanover Area Historical Society has applied to the York County Planning Commission for a $15,000 grant to help complete restoration of the Neas House, a historically significant site in downtown Hanover. The house will eventually become the headquarters of the society, com­plete with museum and room for community meetings. Total cost of the restoration is $200,000 and over $125,000 has already been raised. Funds have been ex­pended for acquisition of land, exterior restoration, and limited interior exploratory and stabilizing work.

One of the best periodicals issued by a smaller society in Pennsylvania is The Settler, a quarterly publication of the Bradford County Historical Society. The February, 1978, issue contains interesting information on Free­masonry in Pennsylvania and archeological discoveries in Bradford County.