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

Why do we tell stories? And why do we read them? Of course, they may be interesting, but how do they inform our lives today? Within this issue of Pennsylvania Heritage, you will find stories illustrating the best of human spirit — determination, curiosity, resourcefulness, bravery, loyalty and generosity. The Pennsylvanians featured in this issue — Charles Willson Peale, the Pennsylvania soldiers at Meuse-Argonne, and Harriet Lane Johnston — were from different times and very different backgrounds, but they all embodied characteristics that are timeless and worth emulating. I hope you find their stories engaging and informative, but I also hope you find something more here — something that speaks to you in a larger way about life, our place in the world, and the way we choose to live. And who among us doesn’t need a little inspiration?

That is our goal here at PHMC, not only within the pages of this magazine but in the work we do every day. For example, our State Historic Preservation Office recently received a grant from the National Park Service to examine and develop a historic context for African American history in Pennsylvania as it is illustrated through the built environment; this study will examine churches, schools, cemeteries and fraternal buildings, expanding a body of knowledge that is critical to our state and our nation. In March the Pennsylvania State Archives and our historic sites and museums mark Charter Day, celebrating the very underpinnings of the commonwealth we call home. At The State Museum of Pennsylvania we opened an exhibit last fall on late 19th-century bird’s-eye views of Pennsylvania, which afford greater understanding of how the local landscape has affected the development of our state.

As the state’s history agency, we have the good fortune to be able to draw upon all these resources to develop a comprehensive understanding of our shared history. Should you find yourself near one of PHMC’s locations (or on one of our websites), we invite you to join us in exploring that history, not only to provide context for the present but to assist in planning for our future.

Andrea W. Lowery
Executive Director, PHMC