Historical Societies: News and Highlights

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

McKean County Society Wins the Corey Award

For its development of an effective local museum, the McKean County Historical Society of Smethport has won the prestigious Albert B. Corey Award from the American Association for State and Local History. an organization dedicated to the advancement of localized history. The award is made annually to a local historical agency in the United States or Canada for vigorous, scholarly and imaginative work. Five hundred dollars is given with the award.

Three other historical societies in Pennsylvania were also honored by the Association as it made its annual awards. The Historical Society of Pennsylvania received the Award of Merit “for producing in a consistent manner publications of high quality on Pennsylvania history.” The Colonial Philadelphia Historical Society was honored with a Certifi­cate of Commendation “for restoring and preserving Philadelphia’s historic Mikveh Israel Cemetary.” A Certifi­cate of Commendation was also given to the Lebanon County Historical Society “for excellent programs aimed at preserving and interpreting the history of Lebanon County.”

According to the award citation of the McKean County society, the two-hundred-member organization won its prize for “the major renovation of its McKean County Museum, including new, modern displays, more sophisti­cated lighting, and a better system for classifying and cataloging.” With a minimum of financial endowment and a maximum of direct support from society members and an interested community, the society’s old-fashioned assemblage of county artifacts has been transformed into a thoroughly modern, educational and effective museum. The society has also given its attention to the sound de­velopment of a library and archives.

Mrs. Kitty Herzog, society board and museum com­mittee chairman, attributed the society’s award to “the entire community’s pitching in and working together for a desirable goal.” She recalled that the Bicentennial inspired the society’s members to do something lasting for the community. “At the start, we had almost no money and no effective organization,” she said, “but we did have a large collection of artifacts in the courthouse basement which had accumulated over the years. This resource caused us to begin thinking about working toward the goal of providing the community with an effective museum reflecting the area’s history and development.”

The society was fortunate in identifying resources and talent in its midst. The society got a CETA employe as­signed to it. He was not only interested in history and photography, but was skilled in other areas as well. “It’s surprising how much you can find in the way of resources and talent when you put your mind to a task,” Mrs. Herzog observed. The County Commissioners, organizations, businesses and individuals were the source of funds for the project.

“We were amateurs in developing a museum, and so we called on the Historical and Museum Commission for advice and guidance,” she said. Two Commission staff members advised them throughout the project. The society’s base­ment collection suggested a country-store theme. A good collection of guns became the foundation for another exhibit. The society is preparing or planning permanent exhibits about the area’s oil and glass industries.

From the two-year experience with the museum project, Mrs. Herzog is certain that historical societies, and par­ticularly the smaller societies, “need to develop goals toward which to work. It is a surer way to accomplish something worthwhile.”


Stevens Award Established for Local Societies

The Historical Foundation of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Federation of Historical Societies have an­nounced their intention to jointly administer an award named in honor of the late Executive Director of the Penn­sylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Sylvester K. Stevens. The recipient of the award will be selected each year from member societies in good standing of the State federation who earn awards from the American Association of State and Local History. Seeking to maintain the stan­dards of excellence and enthusiasm S. K. Stevens employed in pursuing State and local history, the award will reflect Pennsylvania’s appreciation of the efforts of local societies in attaining national recognition. Selections will be made by a panel of three judges appointed by the President of the federation and will be announced at the federation’s annual meeting. The award carries a cash gift of $500.


Grant Made for Local Archives

The National Historical Publications and Records Com­mission has approved a grant to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission to improve the preservation of historical records at local historical repositories. The NHPRC will provide $5,950 in support of the project.

The program will focus attention on local historical and archival depositories which have traditionally amassed a good deal of historical material but have been severely hampered by a lack of professional staff and resources. Improvement in records preservation will be achieved through a series of workshops during 1978 and the pro­duction of an inexpensive manual.

Workshops will be held in the western, central and eastern portions of the Commonwealth. Experts in various fields of archival procedures, manuscript management, and preservation will deliver remarks and prepare demonstra­tions for the various sessions.

The first workshop will be held on May 19 [1978] at the Penn­sylvania Historical and Museum Commission in Harrisburg. Subsequent workshops will be held on June 9 [1978] at the His­torical Society of Western Pennsylvania in Pittsburgh, and on September 15 [1978] at the Wyoming Historical and Geological Society in Wilkes-Barre.


Annual Federation Meeting Scheduled for May 6

The annual meeting of the Pennsylvania Federation of Historical Societies will be held on May 6 [1978] at the Pennsyl­vania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg. The sessions and the annual luncheon will be held in the William Penn Memorial Museum. Workshops devoted to the concerns of historical society members in the areas of archival and museum activities are among those planned. The program will be mailed to members soon.