From the Executive Director

Although PHMC does not actively install historical monuments across the commonwealth, our Pennsylvania Historical Markers serve a similar purpose. Begun in 1914 and “updated” in 1946 with the advent of the blue-and-yellow, pole-mounted roadside plates, the markers represent an extraordinary public historiography (see “A Century of Marking History,” Fall 2014). They teach us not only about what...
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From the Executive Director

Our country is experiencing significant growing pains right now. The challenge we thought we had been facing solely with the COVID-19 pandemic has been compounded by an economic downturn, civil unrest, and an overdue conversation about race. History, which had taken a back seat to a STEM-focused world, now finds itself at the center of these conversations. History offers lessons about the past...
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From the Executive Director

I hope this letter finds you and your loved ones well. I am writing to you from the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been a month of rapid change, and we at the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission have settled into the “new normal,” as they say, having adjusted to the stay-at-home order issued by Gov. Tom Wolf. During this period, our nation is looking to previous pandemics for...
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From the Executive Director

Places can change you. Ordinarily, I write about Pennsylvania history here. But I recently returned from a trip to Montgomery, Alabama, and I came home a different person. Montgomery was not on my radar as a destination. Having little time to prepare for my trip (and consequently few expectations) left me wide open to surprise and to change. The city is home to two of our nation’s most...
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From the Executive Director

Being a gardener, I can’t help thinking of winter as an ideal season for planning. Shorter days bring dreams of gardens that will blossom in the spring, and the new year offers an ideal opportunity for both reflection and preparing for upcoming projects. This winter, at the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission, we are also planning for the future with several exciting initiatives. In...
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From the Executive Director

People often think of history as events in the distant past, so it’s perhaps natural that visitors to our PHMC sites look for objects from Pennsylvania’s earliest historic periods. Our collections do not disappoint. If you wander through The State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg, you’ll find fluted projectile points from the Shoop archaeological site in Dauphin County that date to the last...
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From the Executive Director

The Year of the Woman. How many times have we heard that? 1975. 1992. 2018. Yet, this year is a momentous one for Pennsylvania women. June 24, 2019, marks the 100th anniversary of the commonwealth’s ratification of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution. The amendment, which would give women the right to vote, was adopted on August 18, 1920, making this a full year of celebration....
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From the Executive Director

Spring is field trip season here at the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission. Each year, we welcome approximately 90,000 schoolchildren to our museums and historic sites, with most of them visiting between March and June, when classroom schedules have a little more flexibility and teachers are anxious to help students burn off a little of their spring fever. Many of the students who...
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From the Executive Director

One of the things I love best about being executive director of the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission is sharing our commonwealth’s history with other Pennsylvanians. Although this letter is appearing in the winter issue of Pennsylvania Heritage, I am writing it on one of the hottest days of 2018. Earlier today, I had just come out of a series of meetings related to agency work...
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From the Executive Director

With the arrival of fall, you can find festivals everywhere in Pennsylvania. Celebrations of harvest range from the National Apple Harvest Festival in Arendtsville, Adams County, and the Mushroom Festival in Kennett Square, Chester County, to old-country inspired Oktoberfests from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. Many are established traditions with local origins — Stahlstown in Westmoreland County...
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