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

The articles in this issue underscore the diversity of Pennsylvania’s history – from the role of women in industrv to Cuban baseball players in Williamsport. The range of these topics is matched by the complexity and breadth of the PHMC’s mission and programs.

With 17 million visitors each year to our more than two dozen historic sites and museums – comprising more than four hundred buildings and structures and two thousand acres – the PHMC ranks among the largest of the state history programs in the nation. The State Museum of Pennsylvania alone welcomes more than three hundred thousand visitors each year, including many school students and families who learn about their history and heritage in our galleries and through our educational programs. As the repository for the state’s archives, as administrator of a grants program, and as the official state historic preservation program coordina­tor, the PHMC is a constantly changing organization that assumes myriad responsibilities and roles as steward of the Keystone State’s history.

The State Museum, which opened in 1965 as a leader in the museum field, is planning an extensive renovation to bring its exhibitions up to twenty-first-century standards. The first phase of the renovation project, completed in April, includes a new entrance and the opening of Curiosity Connection, an exciting interactive exhibition for young children.

Fort Pitt Museum, located in Pitts­burgh’s Point State Park at the site of the Fort Duquesne, reopened in mid-April with a new and expanded exhibition. The reopening of Fort Pitt coincides with the launch of the 250th anniversary of the French and Indian War, and is part of an international commemoration that includes twenty states and Canada, underscoring America’s critical role in world politics and economy in the early eighteenth century. The twenty-one historic sites in Pennsylvania that help tell the French and Indian War story – including the PHMC’s Bushy Run Battlefield, Fort Pitt, Conrad Weiser Homestead, and Daniel Boone Homestead – are working with various partners to bring this history to the public. A television series, The War that Made America, is being presented by WQED Multimedia, Pittsburgh, and the French and Indian War 250, Inc. A Web site at www.frenchandindian­ lists additional sites and features a calendar of events scheduled through 2010. Through the generosity of the Laurel Foundation, the PHMC acquired an important collection of papers of Pennsylvania’s Surveyor General John Lukens that chronicle the efforts of surveyors on frontier lands opened to settlement following the French and Indian War.

The PHMC could not do its work without its many partners, associate organizations, and advisory groups. We invite everyone interested in Pennsylvania history to become more active through their local historical societies, historic preservation groups, and museums, and by joining our statewide Pennsylvania Heritage Society as a way to stay in touch with exciting new programs and to take advantage of our state’s wide array of historical places and collections. Visiting the historic sites and museums on our popular Pennsylvania Trail of History is a great introduction to the many fascinating stories and places that together make Pennsylvania’s history so critical to understanding the American experience.

Barbara Franco
Executive Director, PHMC