News and Notes

News presents briefs about current and forthcoming programs, events, exhibits and activities of historical and cultural institutions in Pennsylvania.

On the Cover

This brown sandstone, Germanic-style date stone is embedded in the east wall of the home of Johannes and Barbara Anna Immel which was recently placed on the National Register of Historic Places. As the stone indicates, the home was constructed in 1759, making it the second-oldest dated house in the area of Myerstown, Lebanon County. Immel, one of the first settlers of the Lebanon Valley, built his two-and-one-half-story, rubble-lay masonry home of gray limestone, a style typical of early architecture in the valley.

Date stones, customarily used by settlers from the Palatinate, vary in shape, size, regularity and quality of workmanship. Some stones, also called “prayer stones” for the blessings they were to bring to members of the household. are elaborately carved with Biblical verses. Others are rather crude, complete with misspellings and odd spacings. Regardless of their state of perfection, date stones are yet another reflection of the German heritage so prevalent in Lebanon County and other sections of Pennsylvania.


Pennsylvania Preservation Newsletter

Pennsylvania Preservation, a newsletter pro­viding technical advice, assistance and information about the activities of the PHMC’s Office of Historic Preservation, is available free to those interested in preservation pro­grams. For a complimentary subscription, write Michael J. O’Malley, Office of Historic Preservation, Pennsylvania His­torical and Museum Commission, Box 1026, Harrisburg 17120.


PHMC Conferences: Past and Future

Throughout the year, the PHMC sponsors or helps to coordinate a number of conferences at various sites through­out the Commonwealth on a variety of topics. For example, recently, the Commission conducted its third annual Black History Conference, seventy-third annual meeting of the Pennsylvania Federation of Historical Societies, second annual statewide Historic Preservation Conference and initiated its first statewide National History Day com­petition, which is to become an annual event. Two more conferences, one on historic preservation and another on community oral history, are scheduled for the fall. The sixteenth annual Americana Fall Forum is also planned, as usual.

On April 1 and 2 [1980], the third annual conference on Black History in Pennsylvania, organized by the Commission’s Division of History and held at Millersville State College, attracted scholars and interested citizens from throughout the Commonwealth and surrounding states. The partici­pants heard presentations on black Philadelphia artists, blacks in Lancaster County, black leadership and urban life, and public school curriculum development on Pennsyl­vania’s black history. Judge A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr., of the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, stressed the im­portance of researching the black American’s past in his keynote address.

Noted author, essayist and urban conservationist William H. Whyte delivered the keynote address on May 8 [1980], formally opening the Commonwealth’s second annual Historic Preservation Conference, sponsored by the PHMC’s Office of Historic Preservation and held in Camp Hill. As part of the program, which was attended by approximately 500 people on May 9 [1980], more than 40 local, state and national leaders in the fields of economic development, community conservation and preservation analyzed the relationship of historic preservation efforts to the revitalization of residen­tial neighborhoods and commercial districts. Another high­light of the conference was the appearance of Gov. Dick Thornburgh, who read an official proclamation making May 11 to 17 [1980] “Preservation Week” and delivered a major policy statement regarding the involvement of state government in supporting the preservation movement.

On May 10 [1980], the PHMC’s Division of History was pleased to coordinate Pennsylvania’s first statewide History Day competition in Grantville. History Day, a national program designed to stimulate historical interest and appreciation in young people, began in 1974 as a reaction to diminishing history enrollments in high schools and colleges. The con­cept has now spread to twenty states. In Pennsylvania over 250 junior and senior high school student winners from nine district-level competitions entered the state finals to compete in three categories: historical papers, dramatic performances and displays. All entries dealt with this year’s overall theme of the “Individual in History.” Twenty first­- and second-place winners then moved on to competition at the national level on May 29-31 [1980] at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., where Julie Humbert of Lancaster won second place in the junior historical paper category and Bradley Miller of Indiana won third place with his senior division individual project.

The fall will bring more conferences and workshops as part of the Commission’s outreach program. The PHMC and the Pennsylvania Federation of Historical Societies, in con­junction with two other organizations, are co-sponsoring two of these fall conferences. The Historical Society of Pennsylvania will join them in presenting a program on His­toric Preservation and the Westmoreland County Commun­ity College will assist in coordinating the second annual Community Oral History Conference.

A date of September 26 [1980] has been set for the conference on Preservation to be held at the Historical Society of Penn­sylvania in Philadelphia. The program will focus on pre­serving and documenting historic buildings and neighbor­hoods. Among the topics to be addressed in the morning plenary session and the three concurrent afternoon work­shops are: obtaining funding and technical assistance, em­ploying community and oral history in surveying and documenting historic neighborhoods, and utilizing historic landmarks as focal points for neighborhood preservation. In the keynote address, Arthur P. Ziegler, Jr., of the Pitts­burgh History and Landmark Foundation and a member of the PHMC, will explain how the individual can become active in neighborhood historic preservation.

At the opposite end of the state, the Westmoreland County Community College is hosting the Community Oral History Conference on October 24 and 25 [1980]. The themes of the conference are “Labor, Community and Family,” with small workshops directed toward how to prepare histories of local unions and company towns. Trainers from the Smithsonian Institution and Clark University’s Anony­mous Family History Project will also provide instruction on the tape recording and writing of family histories. In addition, two movies on women and unions will be shown on both days. Another highlight of the conference will be the keynote address to be given at the buffet luncheon on Saturday by Michael Novak. noted author of the Guns of Lattimer.

One of the most popular programs scheduled annually is the Pennsbury Americana Fall Forum, this year set for September 25 to 27 [1980] at Pennsbury Manor in Bucks County. Specialists from around the country with interests in com­munal living, decorative arts and architecture will present three days of programs centered around the themes of “Communal Societies” and “Pennsylvania Architecture.” The registration fee will depend upon the plan and meals selected by each participant. Questions concerning regis­tration should be directed to Pennsbury Manor, Rt. 9, Morrisville 19067, or call (215) 946-0400.

These are but a few of the many programs offered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. For information on those upcoming events scheduled for the fall or for those programs offered annually, please contact the sponsoring division or bureau of the PHMC, Box 1026, Harrisburg 17120.