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

Spring is field trip season here at the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission. Each year, we welcome approximately 90,000 schoolchildren to our museums and historic sites, with most of them visiting between March and June, when classroom schedules have a little more flexibility and teachers are anxious to help students burn off a little of their spring fever.

Many of the students who visit us are in fourth grade — the year Pennsylvania history is introduced in public schools. For me, fourth grade was when I really discovered history, reading every volume of the Childhood of Famous Americans series in our school library. Having burned through those, I went on to other biographies of notable Americans — Maria Tallchief, Eleanor Roosevelt and Mark Twain to name a few.

These books not only provided me with a window on history, but they also gave me something more: inspiration. I saw strong figures who wanted to help change the world for the better. In Deborah Sampson and Amelia Earhart, I saw women who refused to be bound by conventions of the day. In Jane Addams and Florence Nightingale, I saw women who wanted to help others. And Anne Frank taught me about the importance of standing up for what you believe in and the fragility of social norms. Each one inspired me to be a better person.

History teaches us so much — it gives us context for who we are and helps us decide who we want to be. It teaches us that one person — one voice — can make a difference. At PHMC, it is our hope that we can inspire Pennsylvanians, young and old, with their history and that in some small way, we can help stir them to make a better Pennsylvania and a brighter world for all of us.

Andrea W. Lowery
Executive Director, PHMC