From the Executive Director

Throughout the pandemic, we at PHMC have had the opportunity to share Pennsylvania’s rich history with people well beyond our borders through virtual programming. Over the last year we have seen visitors join us from across the country and around the world. Although we have learned how important virtual engagement is, much of what we do remains grounded in the physical world. We have buildings,...
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From the Executive Director

For a long time, the Smithsonian Institution has called itself “The Nation’s Attic.” The name conjures up its role as America’s memory. Storerooms hold bits and pieces of the lives of Americans, famous and less celebrated. That metaphor also works for us here at PHMC. We consider ourselves to be like a Pennsylvania version of the Smithsonian museums, capturing the broad history of the...
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From the Executive Director

Over the past year, PHMC has been working on its new strategic plan. We have been thinking about what we are and what we need to be — for the Pennsylvanians we serve and as champions of history. Our mission is to discover, protect and share Pennsylvania’s past. We hope to inspire others to value and use our shared history in ways that are meaningful to them. In short, we see a future where...
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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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