Sharing the Common Wealth showcases objects, artifacts, documents, structures and buildings from the collections of PHMC.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, created to spur economic relief in the wake of the Great Depression, did not focus solely on building and construction projects. The Frontier Forts and Trails Survey, funded by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and sponsored by the Pennsylvania Historical Commission (predecessor of the PHMC), conducted archaeological investigations in western and northwestern Pennsylvania. The goal of the survey was “to gather information by historical research regarding early Colonial and French forts and roads” and to “catalogue, restore, and preserve objects thus recovered” through archaeological investigations. In 1937, WPA workers excavated their first site, the American fortification of Presque Isle, on Garrison Hill in Erie, located on the grounds of the Pennsylvania Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home, a twenty-six-acre complex overlooking Lake Erie. They excavated two-thirds of the site, identified the location of a blockhouse erected by General “Mad” Anthony Wayne in 1794, prepared a map, and unearthed 275 objects, including military uniform buttons, gun flints, lead bullets, coins, seals, iron implements, and pipes. With the exception of a later gray glazed example, archaeologists date two pipes to the American occupation of the fortification between 1794 and the War of 1812.