Historical Societies: News and Highlights

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

PFHS Programs Evaluated

The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) recently awarded the Pennsylvania Federation of Historical Societies (PFHS) a consult­antship grant to help reevaluate pro­grams, communications, financial re­sources and legislative initiatives. The Federation was one of only three organ­izations in the nation to receive such a grant from the AASLH, and the first statewide consortium of museums and historical societies ever chosen as a re­cipient.

The consultation consisted of four days of intensive, on-sight visits to the Cumberland County Historical Society and the Northcentral Historical Consor­tium, as well as telephone interviews di­rected by members of the PFHS Execu­tive Board and Alice Pearson Hemen­way, the AASLH consultant. Ms. Hemenway was executive director of the Regional Conference of Historical Agencies until January 1982, and has served as a consultant to the American Association of Museums, the New York Council on the Arts and the Institute for Research in History, as well as to the AASLH.

The recently completed evaluation focused on the need and means of facili­tating new regional networks and devel­oping new financial goals. The timing of the evaluation was especially propitious with the first issue of the Federation’s newsletter already out and new attempts now being developed to improve com­munication among Federation members and between the Federation and other organizations.

The implementation of recommenda­tions stemming from this grant should strengthen the Federation and improve future services to its members.


Annual Conference

The 76th annual meeting of the Penn­sylvania Federation of Historical Soci­eties was held Friday, April 29, and Sat­urday, April 30 [1983], at the Penn Harris Motor Inn across the river from Harris­burg. This year. for the first time, the Saturday sessions were conducted con­currently with the spring conference of the Pennsylvania Historical Associa­tion. Although each or the two events had separate programs, registrants were able to choose between sessions.

Friday’s program opened with regis­tration at noon, followed by a general session addressed by President Carl Burkett. After that meeting, concurrent workshops were held on the “Securi­ty of Materials, Public and Pri­vate – Theft, Accident, or Sale” and the “Responsibility for County and Munici­pal Records.” Friday evening’s events were highlighted by dinner and a bus tour. The tour began with a visit to his­toric Fort Hunter. followed by a recep­tion at the John Harris Mansion, home of the Dauphin County Historical Soci­ety and the newly established editorial office for Tapestry, the PFHS newslet­ter.

Saturday morning’s first session, held jointly with the PHA, focused on a re­port, entitled “The State of Historical Records in Pennsylvania: An Assess­ment,” from Leon J. Stout, consultant to the State Historical Records Advisory Board. The Federation then presented a workshop on “Historical Consortiums in Pennsylvania” conducted by Ms. Alice Hemenway, who recently evalu­ated the Federation through a consult­antship grant awarded to the PFHS by AASLH. The annual business meeting followed, where awards were given to outstanding societies, and the annual conference then closed after a luncheon for both Federation and PHA members.


Federation Newsletter Launched

The Pennsylvania Federation of His­torical Societies (PFHS), in cooperation with the Dauphin County Historical So­ciety, began publication of a quarterly newsletter, Tapestry, this past April. The newsletter contains information not only about Federation services and activities, but also highlights events of member societies and features articles which address issues of concern, such as preservation, fund raising, fund man­agement, grant writing and community outreach programs. An activities col­umn provides information about the historical projects and other undertak­ings of individual and regional societies, as well as news on state and local con­ferences, workshops and festivals.

The Federation newsletter was cre­ated to be a forum to open communica­tion networks among member societies. Toward that end, the PFHS encourages members to submit relevant informa­tion about events and activities to The Editor, Tapestry, c/o PHMC, Division of History, Box 1026, Harrisburg, 17120. Those who wish to learn more about the Pennsylvania Federation of Historical Societies or to join the group and thereby receive Tapestry are also in­vited to send a note which includes the names and addresses of both their or­ganization and a contact person to whom return correspondence can be sent. Annual dues for Federation mem­bership are $25.


AASLH Offers Research Grants

With new support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Association for State and Lo­cal History will make available research grants for individuals and organizations working in state and local history. The AASLH will administer a competitive program of small grants-in-aid for re­search focusing on or making use of ma­terials about a locality, community, state or region.

Fifty grants of up to $3,000 each will be available in 1983, and again in 1984. The first application deadline is July 15, 1983, and winners will be announced following the AASLH annual meeting in October.

For information about the research grant program or guidelines concerning the criteria to be used in the selection process, write to James B. Gardner. Staff Historian, AASLH, 708 Berry Rd., Nashville, TN 37204.


Society Notes

The National Endowment for the Hu­manities has announced a number of changes in the guidelines for fiscal year 1983 humanities projects in museums and historical organizations. Among the policy changes is a decision to allow grantees to charge reasonable admis­sions fees to help defray the costs of spe­cial temporary exhibits. The endowment will continue to place emphasis on trav­eling exhibits, interpretation of perma­nent collections and collections sharing, but will also now emphasize those proj­ects that strengthen interpretive skills and focus on relationships among disci­plines of the humanities. For complete information, write to The National En­dowment for the Humanities, Washing­ton, D.C. 20506.

Almost unheralded, the 125th anni­versary of the founding of one of Penn­sylvania’s earliest historical societies, the Wyoming Historical and Geological Society in Wilkes-Barre, arrived and passed on February 11 [1983]. The society was founded on that date in 1858 to cele­brate the 50th anniversary of the first successful burning of anthracite coal in the fireplace of the Old Fell House Tav­ern. The society is to be commended for its work throughout the years, most re­cently for covering all debts incurred following the devastating floods associ­ated with tropical storm Agnes in 1972.