Executive Director’s Message

What will it take to provide leadership in public history in the 1990s? This question shaped a year-long evaluation by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) during which our staff examined our basic as­sumptions about the agency’s work and charted new direc­tions for the future. This self­study, funded by the National Endowment for the Humani­ties (NEH), revealed several...
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Executive Director’s Message

I have changed my mind about historical markers. I once thought that they were outmoded reminders of the days when people drove on our highways at a more deliberate and courteous pace, and leisurely ambled about our cities and towns, unhur­ried and unrushed. I also thought people of that era could actually stop and read the text of our state historical markers. Today, however, most of us race...
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Executive Director’s Message

The National Park Service (NPS), which observed its seventy-fifth anniversary last year, is a federal agency which has a tremendous impact on the preservation and interpre­tation of historic resources in Pennsylvania. The National Park Service’s traditional function as a resource manage­ment agency is evident throughout the Common­wealth. Mere mention of Valley Forge, Independence Hall,...
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Executive Director’s Message

The two hundredth anniver­sary of Joseph Priestley’s arrival in Pennsylvania presents a time to reflect on the life and work of an individual who was truly a unique citizen of our state, nation, and the world. During his lifetime, Priestley was the representative man of the Age of Enlightenment in England and America. His discovery of oxygen in 1774 established his reputation worldwide as...
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Executive Director’s Message

Access. It’s a word mentioned more often than not in conversations about the goals and purposes of public history. It’s a word that poses significant and challenging questions. How can we expand our programs and services to reach wider audiences? How can we make history more meaningful and engaging for scholars, visitors, and readers? How can we satisfy, efficiently and effec­tively,...
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Executive Director’s Message

This year’s observance of Pennsylvania Archaeology Week, October 9-17, calls attention to the rich and diverse heritage of Native Americans. It also gives us an opportunity to recognize the unique research and invaluable preservation efforts undertaken by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC). The PHMC has earned a national reputation for its pioneering efforts in...
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Executive Director’s Message

Museums and historical organizations across the cow1try are redefining and repackaging themselves as educational institutions. When I review annual reports of some of the nation’s most prestigious programs­ – Colonial Williamsburg and Greenfield Village, for in­stance – I am struck by new statements of purpose calling for greater commitment to use museums and their diverse...
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Executive Director’s Message

The masthead to the left of this message includes the names of current members of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. I can proudly report that these men and women are an extraordinary group of citizen volunteers and elected public officials who actively represent Pennsylvania’s history and museum community in all deliberations and programs of our agency. Field trips made by...
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Homeward Bound: An Interview with David McCullough

David McCullough is a familiar name – and face. Known to millions as the author of bestselling books, including The Great Bridge, The Path Between the Seas, Truman, Mornings on Horseback, and Brave Companions, and as host of the popular PBS television series “Smithsonian World” and “The American Experience,” he is noted for his remarkable gift of writing richly...
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Executive Director’s Message

“Please, don’t change Mammal Hall!” Whenever I mention our plans for The State Museum of Pennsylvania, nearly everyone immediately recalls the wonderful dioramas that depict the Commonwealth’s abundant natural heritage. I have not seen an exhibit on a similar theme anywhere in my travels throughout the country that rivals its artistic and educational value. Those loyal...
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