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

This issue of Pennsylvania Heritage concludes our year-long observance of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the New Deal in Pennsylvania. The milestone was adopted by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) as our annual theme for 2008, and we learned much about President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s ambitious economic relief programs and their impact on the Commonwealth and its citizens.

PHMC historian Kenneth C. Wolensky opened our series of New Deal articles in the Winter 2008 issue with an insightful look at the administration of Governor George H. Earle III, an ardent admirer of FDR, who inaugurated his own agenda of unconventional economic recovery measures which earned the moniker “Pennsylvania’s Little New Deal.” In the spring issue, Curtis Miner, senior curator of popular culture and political history at The State Museum of Pennsylvania, discussed Pennsylvania’s Museum Extension Project that churned out millions of educational tools for classrooms and libraries. For the summer issue, David Lembeck, a graphic designer and mural historian, presented readers with a fascinating account of murals installed in post offices throughout Pennsylvania as part of a New Deal initiative to give work to unemployed artists and artisans. His article is illustrated by striking photographs by Michael Mutmansky, a commercial photographer specializing in architecture. This, our final edition commemorating the New Deal, highlights the buildings given to us by the federal Public Works Administration (PWA) and the Commonwealth’s General State Authority. These edifices are landmarks in their own right as they embody architectural elements and details that make up an architectural style known today as PWA Modern.

Throughout the year, we purposefully focused our regular departments — Lost and Found, Marking Time, Sharing the Common Wealth, and Our Documentary Heritage, among others — on the New Deal and the ways it shaped history as we know it. Archivist Willis L. Shirk Jr. mined the vast holdings of the Pennsylvania State Archives to bring to our attention unusual examples of documents, photographs, artworks, even poetry, spawned by President Roosevelt’s New Deal agencies. On page 49 of this issue, you’ll find Year in Review, which highlights our special series.

Although Pennsylvania Heritage concludes the anniversary observance of these important economic initiatives, PHMC offers readers exciting opportunities to learn more about them. On Saturday, November 22, The State Museum of Pennsylvania will unveil “A Common Canvas: Pennsylvania’s New Deal Post Office Murals,” a visually exciting exhibition continuing through May 17, 2009, which is accompanied by special events and programs. PHMC will host “Pennsylvania’s New Deal Legacy,” a public history symposium, on Thursday, December 4 [2008], with Christopher N. Breiseth, president of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, as keynote speaker.

I hope you take advantage of these opportunities to discover the legacies of the New Deal and how they contributed to the Pennsylvania we know today.

Michael J. O’Malley III
Editor