Pennsylvania Historic Preservation

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Historical Marker Program Update

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The Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission is making some changes in its state historical marker program.

After a holistic review of the Pennsylvania Historical Marker program, PHMC staff have been working on changes that will improve customer service for users of this popular program, bring the new marker policy and evaluation process into the program cycle, and implement PHMC’s DEIA goals. 

Historical marker dedication ceremony for the Nile Swim Club in Yeadon, Delaware County. It was the first private swim club owned and operated by African Americans in the country. Photo by Don Giles/PHMC, May 2021.

New Marker Nomination Deadline

PHMC will move the deadline for Historical Marker nominations from December 1 to June 1, beginning with the next round of nominations.

The calendar will then remain on a June 1 schedule as follows:

  • June 1:  Nominations due to PHMC using PA-SHARE
  • August 12: Historical Marker Panel Meeting (expected date)
  • September 7: Commission Meeting

Moving the deadline allows PA SHPO to continue delivering timely and quality customer service to nominators by providing adequate time for the new Marker Coordinator to be trained, to teach nominators to use the PA-SHARE system, and to clear the backlog of marker dedications caused by COVID-19. 

New Marker Coordinator

PA SHPO is hiring a new Historical Marker & Diversity Coordinator.  This position is responsible for managing the PHMC’s Historical Marker Program as well as coordinating across all PA SHPO program areas to develop strategies for preserving and sharing a more inclusive and representative record of Pennsylvania’s history.

Transition to PA-SHARE

PHMC, and the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) recently transitioned to PA-SHARE, Pennsylvania’s new online GIS and project management system for working with cultural resources in the Keystone State. It is now the primary interface for all program areas within the PA SHPO including the historical marker program. PA-SHARE replaces the current paper nomination process.  

PA SHPO staff have begun developing step-by-step instructions and improved guidance documents for users to navigate this new system. When finished, these materials will be available the PHMC website’s Nominate page and the PA-SHARE Help Materials page.

Staff will also hold informational webinars about the program and what to expect with PA-SHARE beginning in January 2022. Please sign up for the PA SHPO e-newsletter for notifications about these trainings and more. Simply visit pahistoricpreservation.com and complete the form titled “Sign Up for the PA Historic Preservation Office Mailing List” at the right side of your screen.  Be sure to indicate your topical and geographical interests so you get all PA SHPO e-communications about topics and places that matter to you.

Marker Policy Implementation

PHMC, recognizing that some of the plaques the agency inherited from its predecessor and some early blue and gold markers may lack historical context, contain inaccuracies, or references that could be perceived as inappropriate embarked on a systematic review of markers as outlined in the adoption of a new marker policy in September 2020. This policy outlines the process for the nomination and approval of new historical markers, revisions to existing markers, and the possible permanent retirement of makers as well as the roles for the Commission and Historical Marker Review Panel.

The Marker Panel will meet once a year in February to evaluate revisions to marker texts and marker retirements.  This schedule allows staff to prepare reports and consult with local partners in December and provide materials to the Panel for review in January. The Panel recommendations will be presented at the March Commission meeting.

In 2022, PHMC staff will implement the outstanding elements of the policy such as designing a formal process for requesting a revision and finalizing the process for the disposition of retired or removed markers.

Questions?

We are happy to answer any questions you may have about the Pennsylvania Historical Marker Program. Please contact us via email at ra-phmarkers@pa.gov.

Author: PHMC

Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission is the official history agency of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

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