News

News presents briefs about current and forthcoming programs, events, exhibits and activities of historical and cultural institutions in Pennsylvania.

“Let our hands not destroy that heritage – the mayhem of Historical Pennsylvania and pillage of its historical treasures must be curbed and stopped.” This was the keynote phrase of the late State Senator Israel Stiefel in a speech of May 2, 1956, supporting two bills for historic preservation in the State Senate. Senator Stiefel was one of the original legislative members of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, serving from 1951 to 1964.

 

Town Names

Sharpsburg, Allegheny County, was named for James Sharp, who founded the town in 1826.

Blawnox, Allegheny County, incorporated in 1925, is a combination of two last names. J. B. Blaw in 1905 patented steel devices, and Luther L. Knox became a partner in manufacturing them at this site.

Kilbuck, the only township in Allegheny County named for an Indian, recalls the Delaware Indian chief who lived from 1737-1811 in this county.

 

Osborne’s Drawings Displayed

Lithograph pencil drawings of the late Milton S. Osborne, professor of architecture and fine arts at The Pennsylvania State University, were displayed recently [in 1975] at the William Penn Memorial Museum. In addition to architecture, Dr. Osborne’s interests included watercolors, pencil, pen and ink drawings, mural paintings and illustrating.

 

Project Volunteers Needed

A project of the Education Department of the William Penn Memorial Museum, Harrisburg, will involve volunteers to assist with the summer program of classes and workshops for children. Youth or adults who can work with children from pre-school through sixth grade are needed.

Classes will include topics of art, Indian lore, and crafts. Group leaders are needed in some cases, but the primary necessity is for responsible assistants.

Each class for children will meet daily for one or two weeks during July and August [1975]. Assignments will be made on the basis of interest, experience and availability.

Persons interested in participating in the project should call Mrs. Reba B. Bordner, museum curator of education, at (717) 787-4978 to request an application form and to arrange for an interview.

 

Grant Awarded

The American Association for State and Local History has been awarded $630,690 by the National Endowment for the Humanities to continue support of the Bicentennial State Histories series. The choice of authors for six more state histories was announced by NEH. These are Norman H. Clark, Washington; Kenneth S. Davis, Kansas; Gloria Love Jahoda, Florida; Oliver Jensen, Connecticut; Charles S. Peterson, Utah; and Jay Saunders Reddin, Delaware.

 

York Meeting House Restoration

Plans have been developed to restore the York Friends Meeting House. The building, erected in 1766 with an addition in 1783, has not been altered since that time. Local historians believe it is the oldest house of worship remaining in York and York County.

 

Blairsville Dramatized

George Swetnam and Helene Smith have completed a historical drama for Blairsville, Indiana County. The community plans to film it and then place it in a time capsule for its Sesquicentennial.

 

Governor Proclaims Historic Preservation Week – May 12-18 [1975]

PROCLAMATION
As our Nation’s Bicentennial approaches, many Americans are just now beginning to appreciate the sites, structures, historic re­sources and other tangible evidences of our past, that have helped to shape our lives. The houses where we have lived, the buildings where we have worked, the cobblestone streets where our forebearers walked, all reflect our heritage and our roots.

Our landmarks are living history. They are sources of pride in our past achievements and they continue to enrich our lives today. If we treat them with respect and include them in our planning, they will enrich our environment and our lives.

Therefore, I, Milton J. Shapp, Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, do hereby proclaim May 12-18, 1975, as HISTORIC PRESERVATION WEEK and urge all of the people of Pennsylvania to join in the effort to save our historic landmarks for the enjoyment and inspiration of this and future generations.

 

Olympic Coins Presented

Gov. Milton A. Shapp has presented a proof set of 1976 Olympics silver coins to the William Penn Memorial Museum.

The set of four coins, contained in a leather presentation case, was presented to the Governor in a formal ceremony at his office recently by Howard E. Campbell, Canadian consul at Philadelphia. The coins, two each of the $5 and $10 denominations, were struck to commemorate the 1976 meet to be held in Montreal.

The new acquisition will be displayed with the 50-State Bicentennial Medal Collection, also presented to the State Museum by the Governor earlier this year. Both sets were presented for the museum’s permanent collection.

 

Books Available

The Lancaster County Bicentennial Committee and Sutter House, Lititz, have co-published two books: A Way of Life by Jim Kinter and The Pennsylvania Rifle by Samuel E. Dyke. The books each cost $2.00 and can be purchased at local book and department stores or may be ordered by mail directly from Sutter House, Box 146, Lititz, Pa. 17542; orders from Pennsylvania residents have to be accompanied by sales tax.

A series of six or seven titles is planned during the Bi­centennial period. The next two books are scheduled for a late 1975 release and are entitled Fighting the Battles: Lan­caster’s Soldiers March off to War by Frederick S. Klein and The Perils of Patriotism: John Joseph Henry and the Ameri­can Attack on Quebec, 1775.

 

Historic Preservation Guides Offered

When Congress passed the Housing and Community De­velopment Act of 1974, it created both a potential boon for and a serious threat against the interest of historic pres­ervationists throughout the country. In both cases the potential effect has yet to be measured and it may be two or three years before any real assessment can be made.

The Act is divided into eight sections. Only Sections I and IV appear to have any direct bearing on Historic Preser­vation. Title I, Community Development, is to promote the development of viable urban communities, primarily through the creation of more and better public facilities. The act re­places most of the programs enacted in the last fifteen years to combat urban decay.

The major difference between the old programs and the 1974 Act is in the funding. Communities no longer apply to each program separately. Instead, each of the eligible com­munities is given a block grant which it can more or less spend as it chooses within the new program’s rather broad limits.

Along with the responsibility for deciding how money is spent, the communities also assume responsibility for seeing that their projects conform with all other federal regulations, such as the Historic Preservation Act of 1966 and the Na­tional Environmental Policy Act of 1969.

Title IV, Comprehensive Planning, provides money for sub-federal governmental units to undertake Comprehensive planning studies. This section of the act is basically an ex­tension of Section 701 of the Housing Act of 1954. Of interest to historic preservationists is the new provision to use these funds for surveys of historic sites. Such surveys must be part of an on-going comprehensive planning project and can only be undertaken separately if the other planning had been completed previously.

Many of the recipients of planning grants may hire con­sulting firms to help with their planning; generally, most of these firms believe it is in their best interest to include as many services in their contracts as possible.

Just because historic preservation is possible under the block grant program does not mean that it will happen. It must compete with other community needs for money. Groups wishing to obtain funds will have to work for them. Ideally, this will mean that a group will be able to secure funds by demonstrating to the program administrators that there is sufficient popular support and interest as well as a legitimate need for any given project.

Of special interest to communities that have applied for funds under the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Grant-in-Aid program and that are also eligible for a new community development block grant is that the HUD funds can be used to match the Interior Department’s funds. This will be particularly important in communities which have had difficul­ty in raising matching funds.

Preservation groups in communities that are applying for Comprehensive Planning grants under Title IV should see that a historic and architectural survey is included in the grant application. It may be possible that local historical groups will be able to provide some portion of the funds or services needed to make up the community’s third of the costs of such surveys. This can be expected to increase a community’s willingness to make such a survey.

Any group or persons wishing more information on the Housing Act of 1974 and its relationship to historic preser­vation, or anyone who is aware of a historic property that may be affected by the Act, is urged to contact the director, Historic Preservation, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, P.O. Box 1026, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17120.

 

State House Cites PHMC Chairman

Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives recently cited Mrs. Ferne Smith Hetrick, chairman of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, for her “innovative efforts.” Representative Stephen R. Reed of Harrisburg made the presentation.

The citation noted that the House “offers its sincerest thanks to Mrs. Hetrick for her many valued efforts as chair­man of the PHMC.” Mrs. Hetrick, in accepting the citation, said that it had been her privilege to work with other Com­mission members and the staff of the PHMC.

 

Governor Shapp Proclaims Junior Historian Week

April 20-26, 1975 was Junior Historian Week in Penn­ia. Gov. Milton J. Shapp’s proclamation follows:

PROCLAMATION
The Pennsylvania Federation of Junior Historians was founded in 1942 to promote interest in the rich history of our Commonwealth and our nation among the young people of Pennsylvania.

These young people are actively engaged in and contribute to historical endeavor in Pennsylvania.

These students are learning about their State and preparing themselves to be good citizens; for the future of our Commonwealth and our Nation rests in the hands of its youth.

Therefore, as Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, I do hereby proclaim the week of April 20-26, 1975 as JUNIOR HISTORIAN WEEK in Pennsylvania, and I urge our citizens during this period and throughout the year to give full support and cooperation to the Pennsylvania Federation of Junior Historians.

 

Whipkey Named Bureau Director

Harry E. Whipkey of Harrisburg is the new director of the Bureau of Archives and History of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Whipkey served as acting director after the retirement of Donald H. Kent in Feb­ruary [1975].

In addition to serving as acting director of the bureau, Whipkey continued to serve as state archivist and chief of the bureau’s Division of Archives and Manuscripts. He joined the PHMC staff as an associate archivist in 1968.

Prior to working for the PHMC, Whipkey spent six years in higher education, last serving as an assistant” professor of history at Ohio University, Athens, Ohio. A Somerset native, he received a bachelor of arts in history in 1960 from Juniata College, Huntingdon, and a master of arts degree in history in 1962 from Ohio University. Whipkey is state awards chairman for the American Association of State and Local History.

His other professional affiliations include National Association of State Archivists and Records Administrators (charter member), Phi Alpha Theta, Society of American Archivists, Pennsylvania Historical Association (Council member), Pennsylvania History news editor, awards com­mittee of Pennsylvania Federation of Historical Societies, and Middle Atlantic Archives Conference.

In addition to writing feature articles and book reviews, Whipkey wrote After Agnes: A Report on Flood Recovery Assistance, published in 1973 by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. He is currently preparing a Guide to the Manuscript Collection of the PHMC.

Whipkey was a Navy medic with the Marine Corps during the Korean conflict. He, his wife Sharon, and their children Jan, Dana and Eric, reside in Harrisburg.

 

25 Projects Tentatively Approved for Funding

Twenty-five projects in various areas of the Common­wealth have been approved by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) for recommendation to the National Park Service to share in $778,000 in Federal Historic Preservation Funds.

The action, taken by the PHMC at two recent meetings, qualifies the projects for consideration by the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior for up to fifty percent reimbursement to assist local communities and organizations in saving historic properties from de­struction.

Proposals for funding include both acquisitions and total and/or partial restoration work.

William J. Wewer, PHMC executive director, said that in order for a property to be considered for funding, it has to be listed in the National Register of Historic Places in Washington, D.C. Recommendations are based on such fac­tors as the contribution of the particular project to state­wide historic preservation activity, local efforts to preserve the property and capabilities of the receiving organization, Wewer added.

The 25 projects and their county location approved for recommendation to the National Park Service for funding are:

  • Neville House, Allegheny, $22,000
  • Cambria Public Library, Cambria, $31,000
  • Old Allegheny Post Office, Allegheny, $15,000
  • Old Hanna’s Town, Westmoreland, $12,500
  • Green Hills Farm, Greene, partial $12,500
  • Cookes House, York, $46,000
  • Phineas Pemberton House, Bucks, partial, $35,000
  • Bethlehem Historic District, Northampton, three projects: Dye House, $5,000; John Sebastian Goundic House, $10,000 and Tanner’s Work House, $3,000
  • Quiet Valley Farm, Monroe, acquisition, $41,000
  • Brendle Farms, Lebanon, partial, $15,000
  • Isaac Meir Homestead, Lebanon, partial, $10,000
  • Keim Homestead, Berks, partial, $15,000
  • Uwchlan Meeting House, Chester, partial $7,800
  • Peter Wentz Homestead, Montgomery, partial $14,000
  • U.S.S. Olympia, Philadelphia, partial, $30,000
  • Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, $10,700
  • Barns-Brinton House, Chester, partial, $15,000
  • Bryn Mawr, Montgomery, partial $15,000
  • Moravian Sun Inn, Northampton, acquisition, $75,000
  • Mercer Museum, Bucks, partial, $40.000
  • Edwin Forrest Mansion, Philadelphia, $20,000
  • Ebenezer Maxwell House, Philadelphia, partial, $15,000

 

Research Conference Spurs Enthusiasm

The Tenth Annual Research Conference, co-sponsored by the Pennsylvania Historical Association and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission was conducted in Harrisburg, April 11-12 [1975]. Approximately seventy-five persons participated. Conference chairman was James P. Rodechko of Wilkes College.

The meeting’s opening session was held at the John Harris Mansion, headquarters of the Historical Society of Dauphin County. Papers were presented by Peter Stearns of Carnegie-Mellon University, Theodore Herschberg of the University of Pennsylvania and Joseph Dowling of Lehigh University. Theme of the discussion was the “Family in History.” James Sperry of Bloomsburg State College was chairman.

At the annual dinner session, Donald H. Kent. PHA president, commented on a film made by Donald A. Cadzow during the mid and late 1930’s, showing the early efforts of the old Pennsylvania Historical Commission in historic res­toration and preservation. In his comments accompanying the film, Kent noted that Cadzow was the first executive director of the PHMC when that body was formed in 1945.

Ferne Smith Hetrick, PHMC chairman, and William J. Wewer, PHMC executive director, also spoke briefly at the dinner.

During the Saturday morning session, two themes pre­vailed: “Non-teaching Careers in History” and “The Status of History in the Schools.” Panel participants for the former were William Toner of Wyoming Historical and Geo­logical Society, Wilkes Barre; Robert J. Plowman of the Federal Archives and Records Center, Philadelphia; and PHMC Executive Director, Wewer.

Participants in the second panel included Abram Foster of Millersville State College, Elizabeth Haller of the State Department of Education, James H. Kehl of the University of Pittsburgh, Elizabeth Geffen of Lebanon Valley College and George Deffenbaugh of the Williamsport Area School District. Chairman was Robert Clemmer of Lock Haven State College.