Executive Director’s Message

From the Executive Director features news and reflections on the work of PHMC by its chief administrator.

We have just completed the first year of a “new departure” for the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. During the course of that year much has changed in the Com­mission’s operating methods and directions. We have succeed­ed beyond our expectations in finding the ways and means of putting all sixty of the Commission’s historic sites and museums back into use, mostly as historic sites and museums available to the visiting public. This is a vast change from the situation a year ago when twenty-seven of these properties were largely closed to the public. It is an accomplishment that could not have been attained without the assistance and dedication of a host of local historical groups which have taken up the challenge to become grant-assisted, full­-management organizations and have assumed the respon­sibilities of managing the properties for the Commission.

At the same time, we have made good progress in our efforts to upgrade and refocus many of our other programs. Through a variety of carefully constructed, cost-saving measures and in­centives aimed at generating additional non-state revenues for PHMC programs – and particularly through the increased use of volunteer groups at many of our historic sites and museums – the Commission has been able to reap savings, new income or volunteer services valued in excess of $1 million. Through our efforts to expand the sale of Commission publications alone, income on sales has increased by more than fifty percent. All of the income derived goes into the sup­port of additional scholarly and popularly styled Commission publications. The increase in non-appropriated fund support for our programs has been a remarkable achievement brought about by the dedicated work of almost every member of the Commission’s staff.

Equally notable is the fact that a sound base has been laid for coming years. Indeed, we have labeled our second year’s efforts “On to Excellence,” denoting the fact that we have completed our turnaround and are now prepared to concen­trate our attention on the enhancement of all our programs. With the assistance of Governor Thornburgh and the General Assembly, the PHMC derived a modest increase in its appropriated-fund support, enabling it to proceed with plans to establish a statewide historic preservation revolving fund. The Historic Preservation Revolving Fund of Pennsylvania, Inc. has, in fact, already been established and should be in full operation soon. Additional funds were also made available to carry out a desperately needed inventory of the location, status and condition of local government records throughout the Commonwealth. This program should provide the basis for the Commission, after having statutory responsibility for local government records for many years, to begin to actively carry out its mandate. Other modest additions to our budget will enable us to complete our property placement program, to upgrade our electronic security systems and to begin the pro­cess of converting some of our record systems into computer format.

While the coming year will in many ways be a continuation and confirmation of the new directions already established, we now feel that we are in a position to concentrate greater energies on the excellence of our programs. We are ever mind­ful that the Commission is an institution dedicated primarily to conservation and education, and that it is always tested by the quality and professionalism of its programs. We are also mind­ful that in 1983 the Commission, which began as the Penn­sylvania Historical Commission in 1913, will attain the ripe old age of seventy years. By the time we commemorate our seven­tieth year of service to the Commonwealth, we trust that the PHMC will continue to be, as it has been many times in the past, the most revered state historical program in the nation.

Larry E. Tise