Historical Societies: News and Highlights

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

Pennsylvania Canal Society

Pennsylvania is blessed with a large number of historical societies. Fre­quently these are organized on the county level, but there are those which are dedicated to a particular theme. The Pennsylvania Canal Soci­ety is one such example. It was con­ceived during a field trip of the Canal Society of New York State along the Lehigh Canal at Bethlehem in July 1966. An organizational meeting was held in November of that same year at the William Penn Memorial Museum in Harrisburg with 130 canal buffs from Pennsylvania and neighboring states applying for membership. Sub­sequently, it was incorporated as a nonprofit, educational organization with the stated objectives “to preserve the rich heritage of early canal days in America, and the one-time 1,200 miles of canals in Pennsylvania in particular; to encourage canal research; and to make available to the public, informa­tion and materials on canals, their operation and history.”

The Pennsylvania Canal Society has accomplished these objectives in a number of ways. First, since early 1968, the society has been publishing a quarterly newsletter, Canal Currents, which has grown into a sixteen-page publication full of Pennsylvania canal history, maps and old photos of canal operations, as well as current reports on the many society activities. Color­ful accounts of personal experiences in traveling the canals are also fre­quently published.

Secondly, the society sponsors two field trips annually in the spring and fall along remnants of the canals in Pennsylvania and adjacent states. They are two-day affairs, starting with an in­formal meeting Friday evening and an all-day bus tour on Saturday, followed by a formal banquet, canal-oriented program and local historical tours on Sunday.

Third, the society is cosponsor, with the Hugh Moore Park at Easton, of the Canal Museum at the Forks of the Delaware. In this museum, which is now planning an expansion, are lo­cated canal-boat and lock models, dioramas and other canal memorabilia contributed by society members and others. In addition, the museum houses a canal researcher’s library of extensive literature, thousands of slides, maps, canal operating records and much other carefully cataloged material. A permanent administrative staff is main­tained in the museum by the City of Easton. The Hugh Moore Park also includes a three-mile section of the re­stored Lehigh Canal with operating locks and a replica passenger canal boat, the Josiah White, which is pulled by a mule team on a towpath. The boat runs on a regular operating sched­ule and is available for individual or group tours.

The Pennsylvania Canal Society, which is headquartered at the Canal Museum, has a membership which presently stands at approximately 300. For further information about either the society or the facilities of the Canal Museum and Hugh Moore Park, write to Box 877, Easton 18042, or call (215) 258-7155.


Historical Society Notes

After devoting over a year to study­ing the insurance needs of historical societies, the Pennsylvania Federation of Historical Societies has endorsed a group insurance program for its mem­bers. The program is underwritten by the Insurance Company of North America which mailed promotional literature to member societies in February. The distinct advantage of the entire effort is the ability of soci­eties, acting collectively, to reduce their overall insurance costs and yet maintain adequate coverage by pooling their premiums. If enough societies en­list in the program, dividends can actually be returned to members in the form of reduced premiums. An­other important feature is the ability of a society to work through a local agent, a major consideration to most institutions in joining the program. Societies or agents need simply to con­tact Market Dyne International, 1600 Arch St., Philadelphia 19101, or dial toll free (800) 523-2710 and refer to Pennsylvania Federation of Historical Societies Safety Group, 7244.

Fall workshops sponsored by the Pennsylvania Federation of Historical Societies are tentatively scheduled for two locations. The Westmoreland County Community College, the West­moreland County Historical Society, the federation and the PHMC will co­operate in sponsoring a workshop on local and community history at the community college in Youngwood on October 24 and 25 [1980]. A workshop on historic preservation is also being planned by the PHMC and the PFHS to be held in the Philadelphia area in September. Further details will be mailed soon.