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

More than thirty historical organizations and cultural institutions, foundations, and state and federal agencies participated in “Charter Day — An Anthracite Homecoming!” at the Pennsylvania Anthracite Heritage Museum, Scranton, as part of Charter Day activities hosted by PHMC historic sites and museums in March. Participants presented information and materials with an emphasis on the anthracite region’s culture and history. The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) helped coordinate the event, along with Francis Tartella, president, Anthracite Heritage Museumand Iron Furnaces Associates; Sarah Piccini, program officer, Lackawanna Heritage Valley Authority; Maureen Litvin, museum clerk typist; Lenwood Sloan, DCED deputy secretary for tourism and marketing; volunteer Warren Norton portraying William Penn; Howard M. Pollman, PHMC marketing director; and Gerald Williams and Kate Gibbons, associates board members.


Each year, the Penn Ambassadors, hosted by the Pennsylvania Heritage Society, are nominated by state legislators from among civic leaders, historical society members, educators, preservation planners, and community volunteers. As part of PHMC’s Heritage Week in March, Penn Ambassadors enjoyed behind-the-scenes tours of The State Museum of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania State Archives, and a visit to the State Bookstore in the Commonwealth Keystone Building. PHMC Bureau for Historic Preservation Director Jean Cutler discussed the agency’s New Deal initiatives and Curtis Miner, State Museum curator , talked about the New Deal works of art created for post offices during the Great Depression.


Drake Well Museum’s eighteenth annual Heritage Lecture Series was, once again, a highly successful event. Guest storytellers presented topics to stimulate interest in folklore and history. Attending a pre-lecture party to celebrate Edwin Drake’s 189th birthday were Ron Hamilton, Bob Archer, museum volunteer, Toni Slater, museum guide, and Teresa Hamilton. Master storyteller and Drake Well Museum’s volunteer of the year Bill Stumpf discussed traditional Native American stories and historic events in northwestern Pennsylvania’s oil region. PHMC has adopted “energy” as its annual theme for 2009. Next year also marks the sesquicentennial of the world’s first successful oil well, drilled by Drake at Titusville in 1859.


The thirty-first annual conference on Black History in Pennsylvania, “Crossroads of the World: 250 Years of African Americans in Greater Pittsburgh,” was held in April at the University of Pittsburgh. Karen James, coordinator of PHMC’s African American History Programs, was the conference’s key organizer. David Shoff and Linda A. Ries of the Pennsylvania State Archives administered the event for the PHMC. Executive Director Barbara Franco gave opening remarks and participated in the dedication of a state historical marker honoring K. Leroy Irvis (1919–2006), former Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and the first African American speaker of any U.S. state house since Reconstruction. PHMC staff attending included historian Eric Ledell Smith (above, seated center), photographed at a session led by Samuel W. Black (back to camera), author and curator of African American Collections at Pittsburgh’s Senator John Heinz History Center. Smith is currently working on a book entitled Trailblazers: Innovative African Americans in Pennsylvania History, slated for release by PHMC in early 2010.