PHMC Highlights presents stories and information about PHMC programs, events, exhibits and activities.

The orientation video at the Pennsylvania Military Museum, Boalsburg, Centre County, recently garnered two prestigious national awards. Answering the Call: Pennsylvanians in Service to the Nation won a Telly Award in the twenty-seventh annual competition conducted in 2006, and first place in the National Association of Government Communicators Blue Pencil/Gold Screen Award for exceptional government communications projects. Written, edited, and produced by Commonwealth Media Services, expertise for the twelve-minute video was provided by the museum’s staff under the direction of William J. Leech, historic site administrator. The Pennsylvania Military Museum chronicles the history of the Commonwealth’s citizen-soldiers through objects, artifacts, and interpretive exhibits.


Forbes Field was the home of the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team from 1909 to 1970, the Homestead Grays of the Negro National League from 1939 to 1948, and the Pittsburgh Steelers professional football organization for thirty years, beginning in 1933. A state historical marker commemorating the field’s place in the Keystone State’s sports and recreational history was dedicated by the PHMC in July before a large crowd that included Kevin McClatchey, Pirates CEO, state Senator Jim Ferlo (D-38th District), a legislative member of the PHMC, and former Pirates pitcher and broadcaster Steve Blass. Members of the Negro Leagues teams were introduced by Sean Gibson, great-grandson of Josh Gibson, the Negro Leagues’ greatest home run star. The late Bob O’Connor’s wife Judy stood in for the ailing mayor who, along with Senator Ferlo, was a key player in organizing the ceremonies, which included a youth game pitting the Pirates against the Grays. Lieutenant Governor Catherine Baker Knoll joined political and sports luminaries who recalled memories of the great days of the field and perhaps the most famous one of all – Bill Mazeroski’s World Series winning homer in 1960. The first homerun hit out of the park on May 25, 1935, was the last career homerun hit by Babe Ruth. The historical marker stands near the Forbes Field wall in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh, on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh.


On Thursday, June 22, 2006, before a crowd of four hundred spectators, Philadelphia Mayor John F. Street, PHMC members Rhonda R. Cohen and state Representative Lawrence H. Curry (D-154th District), and William Tucker, unveiled a state historical marker at the former residence of C. DeLores Tucker (1927-2005), secretary of the Commonwealth from 1971 to 1977,the first African American in the nation to hold such a position. Normally, ten years must pass after the death of an individual to be considered for a marker, but the PHMC waived the requirement because of Tucker’s outstanding contributions as a civil rights activist and leader. She is credited with establishing the Commission on the Status of Women and lowering the voting age to eighteen. As Pennsylvania’s chief election officer, she ruled that students could vote from their schools’ voting districts rather than being required to vote from their home districts. Tucker advocated the appointment of African Americans and women to boards and commissions. She also challenged the popular music industry to end the promotion of misogynous, generally hateful, or pornographic song lyrics demeaning to women and children. Known for her great oration, style, and tenacity, the Pennsylvania native mentored hundreds of African Americans and women throughout the nation.


When a new visitors center was completed in 2003 at Old Economy Village in Ambridge, Beaver County, it led to an important acquisition for the PHMC historic site in 2006, reports curator Sarah Buffington. In 1950, former historic site administrator Lawrence Thurman purchased a special gold medal awarded to Gertrude Rapp (1807-1889) in 1844. Engraved by Christian F. Gobrecht (1785-1844), the medal was struck by the United States Mint, Philadelphia, for the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association (MCMA), which awarded it to the Harmony Society for its superior manufacture of silks. (Established in Boston in 1795, with Paul Revere as its president, the MCMA promotes the mechanical arts and provides charitable assistance to mechanical artisans.) Dr. Thurman personally purchased the medal for one hundred dollars, but Old Economy had no ability to accept or even store the object as a private donation. As a result, years later, following the death of Dr. Thurman, the medal was bequeathed to an individual who intended to melt it to make cufflinks! When it became possible for Old Economy to accept the medal, Thurman’s widow, Christa Meyer Thurman, arranged for the transfer of the priceless artifact to the historic site. Robert Bullock, exhibit specialist for the PHMC’s Bureau of Historic Sites and Museums, designed special lighting and visitors can now view this important artifact on display.


His name isn’t exactly a household word, but millions of visitors to The State Museum of Pennsylvania have enjoyed his work since the facility opened three decades ago. John P. Kucera (1912-2006), who died on August 11 at the age of ninety-four, created dioramas and installations for The State Museum’s perennially popular Mammal Hall and Native American exhibits in the 1960s. Kucera attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts but left in 1933 to pursue a career as a freelance artist in Philadelphia. In addition to teaching art at Temple University, he exhibited his paintings in numerous gallery shows and attracted recognition for his public murals. From 1940 to 1945, he served in the U.S. Army as an engineer, medical corpsman, and medical illustrator. He also constructed dioramas for the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. At the time of his death, he lived in Wake, Virginia, to where he had moved in 1993.


The Pennsylvania State Archives keeps good company. Along with twenty-one state archives – among them Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Ohio, and Oregon – the Pennsylvania State Archives was cited by Family Tree Magazine as “one of the 101 best Web sites for genealogical research.” Billing itself “America’s Number 1 family history magazine,” Family Tree Magazine compiled this year’s list of “the best of the best” with staff and expert contributing editors. The magazine provides helpful, beginner-friendly advice for gathering genealogical information through research, travel, family reunions, interviews, and memoirs. To enjoy the Archives’ world-class Web pages, maintained by State Archives staff member Sharon Nelson, go to