From the Editor

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

The theme we adopted for Pennsylvania Heritage‘s 40th anniversary is “Telling Stories, Sharing History,” which has been our mantra since the magazine debuted in 1974. This edition is particularly rich with stories that will broaden readers’ understanding and appreciation of the Commonwealth’s 20th-century history. In fact, all three of the feature articles, in addition to colleague Barry A. Loveland’s installment of Hands-On History entitled “Bringing History Out of the Closet: A New Project in Central Pennsylvania Documents and Preserves LGBT History,” are devoted to 20th-century topics.

LOLcats, amusing photographs of felines in various poses to mimic humans, are all the rage on the Web these days and there’s a direct connection to a native Pennsylvanian. Many creators credit Harry Whittier Frees as the American originator of this odd and unusual style of photography. In her feature “Introducing Harry Whittier Frees: World-Famous Animal Photographer,” Mary L. Weigley offers a portrait of the individual who captivated people throughout the world with his quirky photographs not only of cats and kittens, but also of dogs, rabbits and even a pig.

The Lincoln Highway is entering its second century, and roadside attraction expert and author Brian Butko chronicles the rise and fall of one of the highway’s most popular novelties in “The Ship Hotel: Afloat with the Lincoln Highway’s Most Unusual Landmark.” For seven decades, from its construction in 1931 until it was destroyed by fire in 2001, the “Ship of the Alleghenies” was a strange and wondrous site (and sight!) for motorists traveling the Lincoln Highway, now U.S. Route 30, in Bedford County.

John T. Graham, known to audiences of his traditional storytelling as “Pennsylvania Jack,” is a founder of the Keystone Marker Trust, a statewide nonprofit organization devoted to the restoration and installation of replacement keystone markers which were once common in communities. Jack traces the history of these distinctive markers which are now being reintroduced by the trust to boroughs and cities, small and large, to reawaken both residents’ and visitors’ interest in local history. Each of these markers tells a story and shares history, as he recounts in “History Cast in Iron: Rediscovering Keystone Markers.”

This edition is the last with which I will be completely involved as I am retiring from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in mid-April after more than 36 years of service. I have enjoyed the distinct privilege of editing Pennsylvania Heritage for 30 of its 40 years, and it will be hard to say farewell to colleagues, writers, interviewees, photographers, artists and members of the Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation. Over the years the magazine (and I) benefitted greatly from these individuals who generously lent their expertise, insight and perspective. I credit them for much of the magazine’s quality and success. I am proud to call them storytellers who shape, interpret and share our priceless heritage and history. For the invaluable lessons I learned along the journey, I heartily thank one and all.

With best wishes,
Michael J. O’Malley III