Editor's Letter is an introduction to the contents and themes of each issue of Pennsylvania Heritage by the editor.

Forgotten human history exists beneath us in Pennsylvania, from as far back as 20,000 years ago to as recently as the previous century. In the last 50 years, many lost worlds have been recovered as a result of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA). A provision in NHPA, popularly known by its number in the document, Section 106, calls for the heads of federal agencies to “take into account the effect of [any federal] undertaking on any district, site, building, structure, or object that is included in or eligible for inclusion in the National Register” and “afford the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation established under Title II of a reasonable opportunity to comment with regard to such undertaking.” The goal is to avoid, minimize or mitigate damage to historic and archaeological properties, and frequently this involves excavation of the properties to determine the extent to which they should be affected. As the 50-year mark of the enactment of NHPA on October 15 approaches, Pennsylvania Heritage highlights the impact of Section 106 in the state in “Digging Deep,” the last article in our series of Preservation 50 features this year. Author Joe Baker, an archaeologist with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, focuses on two key excavations prompted by Section 106 that have recovered significant evidence of the vanished past: the riverine Wallis Site in Liverpool, Perry County, which yielded some of the most ancient Paleoindian artifacts in the state, and the Fishtown section along a stretch near I-95 that turned up more recent 19th-century and early 20th century objects that had been lost to the wheels of progress in the ever-changing city of Philadelphia.

There are other aspects of our heritage that have become hidden through time, not concealed in the earth but preserved in pockets of remote culture that rarely reach mainstream attention. William Woys Weaver has been exploring the local culinary traditions of Pennsylvania for more than four decades and has identified five unique food regions in the state. In “Baking Pennsylvania Dutch Style,” he gives us a taste of one region with a delicious sampling of traditional pastries not found in cookbooks but discovered in farmhouses and church kitchens in southeastern Pennsylvania, along with the related foodlore that qualifies these treats as rich cultural texts.

Seventy-five years ago on December 7 the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor thrust the United States into the Second World War. The anniversary of this momentous event marks the beginning of PHMC’s Pennsylvania at War, a joint commemoration of the 75th anniversary of World War II and the 100th anniversary of World War I, focusing on Pennsylvania’s involvement at home and abroad in these two pivotal episodes of human history. The great flagship of the U.S. Navy that bore the name Pennsylvania was one of eight battleships at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked, and it is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at The State Museum of Pennsylvania and a companion article in this issue, “Keystone Flagship.” Author Robert D. Hill, who also curated the exhibition, tells the dramatic story of battleship number 38 at Pearl Harbor, along with its full history, from commissioning in 1916 and service during World War I to modernization at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in 1929 and later action in the Pacific throughout World War II. Other articles related to Pearl Harbor in this issue appear in Our Documentary Heritage [“A Personal Account of Pearl Harbor: The Journal and Scrapbook of Roland Ferron“], Trailheads [“The Pennsy Guns at the Pennsylvania Military Museum“] and Sharing the Common Wealth [“Remember Dec. 7th Poster at Pennsylvania State Archives“]. Look for more stories on the World Wars in coming editions of Pennsylvania Heritage as PHMC observes Pennsylvania at War.

Kyle R. Weaver
Editor