Historical Societies: News and Highlights

Historical Societies: News and Highlights presents news and information about Pennsylvania's regional and county historical societies.

Federation Annual Meeting Report

The Pennsylvania Farm Museum at Landis Valley hosted the 73rd annual meeting of the Pennsylvania Federa­tion of Historical Societies on May 2 and 3 for representatives of the Com­monwealth’s county and local history organizations. The program began with two workshops during Friday’s ses­sions on “Archival Conservation Tech­niques” and “Rehabilitating Historic Buildings.” These presentations were followed by a lecture on “Furniture in Pennsylvania, 1750-1900,” by Ver­non Gunion, a member of the Farm Museum staff.

Saturday’s program began with a panel discussion on “Updating County Histories” and was followed later in the morning by the federation’s busi­ness session. Federation officers were reelected to one-year terms, headed by Robert Grant Crist, who was returned as president of the organization which now includes a record membership of 191 historical societies. A large por­tion of that session revolved around a series of resolutions passed by the members, the lead one urging the Gen­eral Assembly to revise the School Laws of Pennsylvania to reestablish Pennsylvania history as a distinct and separate subject in the state’s public schools. Other resolutions called upon the legislature to fund grants to en­courage the publishing of new county histories and to provide adequate re­sources to preserve the historical records of the Commonwealth’s politi­cal subdivisions. In addition, apprecia­tion was expressed to the governor, the legislature and the Department of Commerce for their travel promotion efforts with the “You’ve Got a Friend in Pennsylvania” campaign. Looking toward the Tercentenary, member or­ganizations were called upon to join in the celebration with meaningful com­munity-level programs.

An important part of each federa­tion meeting has been the announce­ment of awards granted to member or­ganizations for their exceptional pro­grams. This year the third annual S. K. Stevens A ward, which honors the memory of the late Dr. S. K. Stevens, long-time executive director of the PHMC, past president of the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) and founder of the Histori­cal Foundation of Pennsylvania which annually grants the award, was given to the Presbyterian Historical Society. Dr. Philip S. Klein, president of the foundation, presented a certificate and $500 to the group. Awards of Merit were given to the Historical Society of Berks County, the Erie County Histor­ical Society. the Union County Histor­ical Society, the Zelienople Historical Society, and the Jefferson County Historical and Genealogical Society. Three Honorable Mentions were also given to the Ephrata Cloister Asso­ciates, Inc., the West Whiteland His­torical Commission and the Crawford County Historical Society. In addition, certificates for Commendation Awards from the AASLH were presented to Dr. Jonathan Goldstein, Dr. Charles M. Snyder and the Historical Society of York County.

The annual meeting of the federa­tion came to a close on Saturday, May 3, after a luncheon which was addressed by Dr. Robert K. Murray, professor of history at the Pennsylvania State Uni­versity. His slide/talk presentation, entitled “America’s Greatest Rescue Story,” concerned Floyd Collins, a Kentucky spelunker trapped in a cave in the 1920s.


Historical Society Notes

Many historical societies can bene­fit from the funding of the Pennsyl­vania Public Committee on the Human­ities. Historical societies thinking about research, exhibits or other public pro­jects which would use local history to illuminate contemporary concerns are eligible for support. If grant writing is a problem, staff at the Public Com­mittee would be happy to assist in the preparation of a proposal. Recently the committee has funded an inter­disciplinary study of Altoona’s trans­portation history in an effort to con­sider the railroad’s present plight in the city. Other projects include fund­ing for Indiana County’s Heritage Magazine and an examination of the changing values in a Pennsylvania town since the nineteenth century as re­flected in the music and lyrics of the period. Interested societies can contact the committee at 401 N. Broad St., Suite 818, Philadelphia 19108, or call (215) 925-1005.