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

The PHMC recently announced the Volunteers of the Year for 2005,awards which recognize individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the more than two dozen historic sites and museums along the Pennsylvania Trail of History. This year’s recipients are: Anthracite Heritage Museum and Scranton Iron Furnaces Associates, Jim Justin; Brandywine Battlefield Park Associates, Harvey Kliman; Bushy Run Battlefield Heritage Society, Kelly Ruoff; Friends of the Conrad Weiser Homestead, Joanne Murdough; Cornwall Iron Furnace Associates, Alice Oskam; Friends of Daniel Boone Homestead, Peggy Gingrich; The Colonel, Inc., Cinda Sites; Eckley Miners Village Associates, Joanne Bard; Ephrata Cloister Associates, Cathy Oliphant; Flagship Niagara League, Fred Thompson; Fort Pitt Museum Associates, Michael Homza; Friends of Graeme Park, James Price; Friends of Hope Lodge and Mather Mill, Ron and Carolyn Denzel; Friends of Joseph Priestley House, Amanda Kessler; Landis Valley Associates, Doris Moskalski; The Harmonie Associates, Emily Lapisardi; The Pennsbury Society, Lisa and Caitlyn Hayden; Pennsylvania Lumber Museum Associates, Nancy and Roger Hetrick; Friends of the Pennsylvania Military Museum, Meg Pedlow; Friends of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, Bob Baume; Historical and Genealogical Society of Somerset County, William Hoffman; Friends of Washington Crossing Historic Park James Gibson; and The State Museum of Pennsylvania, Mary Snare.

 

The Outstanding Service Award was shared by Lillian Lloyd from Somerset Historical Center and Joseph Z. Meck from Ephrata Cloister Associates. Lillian Lloyd has given twenty-five years of dedicated and devoted service to school programs at the Somerset Historical Center, and served on the society’s board of direc­tors. Joseph Zerfass Meck, who traces his family roots to two of the original householder families at Ephrata Clois­ter, has made a lifelong commitment to Ephrata Cloister. As well as serving on the board, he was instrumental in the acquisition of the Mt. Zion Cemetery for the PHMC.

 

The Contribution to the Profession by a Government Official Award is given by AIA Pennsylvania in recognition of significant contributions to, or in particular support of, the role of the architectural profession and/or the built environment The award, presented in March at ceremonies held in the State Capitol, was given to James P. Creedon, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of General Services, and Bonnie Wilkinson Mark, historical architect for the PHMC’s Bureau for Historic Preservation since 1997. Mark is responsible for the technical review of rehabilitation investment tax act projects in the Commonwealth. In addition, she assists local governments, property owners, architects, and developers with correct rehabilitation techniques for their buildings. Prior to joining the PHMC, she worked for the Historic Preservation Section, Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Mark left public service in 1989 to serve as manager of the Main Street program in Watertown, New York, and Carnegie, Pennsylvania.

 

Walter Meshaka, senior curator of zoology and botany at The State Museum of Pennsylvania has been investigating many interesting questions in ecology in the Commonwealth. Much like nineteenth-century counterpart Joseph Leidy, he is an “urban naturalist” (see “Joseph Leidy A Natural Observer,” by Tom Huntingdon in the summer 2006 issue). Dr. Meshaka ls following changes in the populations of three resident wasp species in Harrisburg, one of which is an exotic species from Europe. One of the questions he is exploring is whether the European species is pushing the native species out of this urban habitat. He is also studying reptiles and amphibians in other habitats throughout Pennsylvania. He has been surveying amphibians and reptiles in different physiographic regions of the Commonwealth, paying particular attention to forest salamanders to see how differences in habitat affect vari­ous species of salamanders. At various grassland sites he has been studying different species of snakes and their interrelationships with each other and grasslands, which are an endangered type of habitat in Pennsylvania and the Northeast. His work has impor­tant implications for how changes and differences in habitat affect animals, and how and why popu­lations of ani­mals change in Pennsylvania.

 

On Saturday, May 6, the PHMC dedicated a state historical marker in Soldiers Grove opposite the State Capitol in Harrisburg commemorating the Grand Review of United States Colored Troops. The dedication was the culmination of the twenty­ ninth annual Conference on Black His­tory in Pennsylvania. Speakers at the dedication included Hari Jones, assis­tant director of the African American Civil War Memorial Freedom Museum in Washington, D.C., and Michael Barton, professor of American Studies, Penn State Harrisburg. Members of the Ephraim Slaughter Post 433 American Legion, Harrisburg, provided the honor guard. Having been excluded from participation in the May 1865 Grand Review of the Union Army in Washing­ton, D.C., United States Colored Troops serving in various Pennsylvania and Massachusetts regiments assembled on November 14, 1865, in Harrisburg at State and Filbert Streets (now Soldiers Grove) to stage a celebratory parade honoring their courage during the Civ­il War. Thomas Morris Chester led the parade as chief marshal. The veterans marched through Harrisburg to U.S. Senator Simon Cameron’s residence on South Front Street, where he welcomed and thanked them for their meritorious service. Speeches were made by Reverend Stephen Smith and Octavius Catto of Philadelphia, Brevet General Joseph B. Kiddoo, and Harrisburg’s own Wil­liam Howard Day.

 

After more than fifteen years as chief of the PHMC’s Division of Publications and Sales, Diane B. Reed retired on June 9. As division chief, one of her responsibilities was the role of publisher of Pennsylvania Heritage. She has also been a regular contributor to the magazine. Her feature articles included “Steel on the Susquehanna,” “The Magic of Mount Gretna,” “Sail on O Ship of State,” “Wanted: Women to Meet the Wartime Challenge,” and “Life on Wheels: Camping in Pennsylvania.” Reed served as a hands-on editor for the titles both published and co-published by the PHMC. “Publishing – books and the magazine – at the PHMC is a team effort, in which everyone, including the chief, participates,” she said recently. During her tenure, the PHMC published forty-nine books, totaling nearly nine thousand pages of text on a variety of subjects – history, archaeology, biography, natural history, and architecture .

She also initiated an innovative publishing partnership program that produced African Americans in Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania: A History of the Commonwealth with Penn State Press, and twenty-three guidebooks for PHMC sites and museums, as well as the Pennsylvania Trail of History Cookbook (for which she served as co-editor), co-published by Stackpole Books.

 

Through a partnership among the PHMC, the city of Harrisburg, and Penn State Harrisburg, Susan T. Hartman, head of the local government records section of the newly formed Division of Public Services and Outreach at the Pennsylvania State Archives, is lending professional experience and expertise to the Harrisburg City Archives. She is helping to organize and catalogue the vast holdings of the city archives, as well as training students enrolled in the American Studies program conducted by Penn State Harrisburg. The ard1ives contains a number of records created by various city offices and agencies and includes collections relating to the mayor’s office, local courts, magistrates’ offices, the police department, and the health department, in addition to birth and death records and tax records. Hartman notes that the archival collections of the city health department are especially fascinating because they contain records of Harrisburg’s response to the influenza epidemic of 1918. With the assistance of Penn State students, a finding aid to the archives has been completed. The Harrisburg City Archives also houses a selection of ephemera, including trade cards, premiums, school yearbooks, and advertising memorabilia. Most of the official city documents date from the 1870s to the present.