Pennsylvania Historic Preservation

Blog of the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office

November 6, 2019
by Pamela Reilly

Let’s Raise a Glass to the 100th Anniversary of Prohibition! (Preferably at a historic brewery)

The year 2019 marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution. In Pennsylvania, a state with a large number of breweries, courtesy of our English and German ancestry, as well as an excellent climate for the growing of hops and malt, the impact was dramatic.

Continue Reading →

October 23, 2019
by Guest Contributor

Ironing Out the Wrinkles: Finding a New Life for the Inwood Iron Bridge

When travelling between Schuylkill and Lebanon County, some may prefer to skip Interstate 81 and take the more scenic route past Swatara State Park.  The park is relatively recent in its formation, created in 1987, and DCNR continues to make infrastructure improvements to provide access to recreational opportunities within the park including biking, hiking, boating, and fishing.

Continue Reading →

October 16, 2019
by Karen Arnold

Celebrate National Arts and Humanities Month with the August Wilson House

October is the opportunity to explore the arts in your local community as part of National Arts and Humanities Month.  This month-long celebration was established to honor of the founding of the National Endowment for the Arts in 1965.

Continue Reading →

October 9, 2019
by Guest Contributor

The Society at 90: Celebrating the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology’s 90th Year with a Look at the Present and the Future!

This Archaeology Month, we are celebrating the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology’s 90th year. As part of that celebration, we are taking over the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office’s Blog for two weeks. Last week we looked at how the society was founded, and this week we are going to see what the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology (SPA) looks like today. For those of you who are curious about archaeology, want to learn more, and would love the opportunity to get involved with the SPA, this blog post is for you!

Continue Reading →

October 2, 2019
by Guest Contributor

The Society at 90: Celebrating the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology’s 90th Year with a Look Back at our Beginnings

In 1929, the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology (SPA) was formed to promote the study of archaeology within the Commonwealth. Throughout the history of the SPA, up to and including today, the SPA has provided a forum for amateur and professional archaeologists to work together, share their findings, and piece together the archaeology of Pennsylvania.

Continue Reading →

September 25, 2019
by Guest Contributor

Philadelphia’s Urban Landscape, a NUTTY Place

Don’t worry, I capitalized the word NUTTY for a reason. While sorting through some documents here at the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office (PA SHPO), I came across a file for the National Register listed Franklin Square in Philadelphia.

Continue Reading →
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commision Logo

September 23, 2019

PA SHPO is Hiring!



Are you interested in joining a pro-active and dedicated team of preservationists, historians, and archaeologists? If you have the experience and training to be a Historic Preservation Specialist, we have the job for you! 


The Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office (PA SHPO) is seeking a Historic Preservation Specialist to work between disciplines and advance SHPO priorities. This position is ideal for a detail oriented and flexible preservation professional with a knowledge of state historic preservation programs.

Responsibilities include assisting the PA SHPO launch a new data management system called PA-SHARE; manage PA-SHARE’s queue of incoming submissions; complete determinations of eligibility for the National Register; provide customer service to PA-SHARE users; and ensure data accuracy.

Read the complete position description for more information.


Two or more years of experience working on an architectural survey, an architectural restoration and preservation project or program, and a bachelor’s degree in architectural history, American history, art history or course work in Pennsylvania history; or

Any equivalent combination of experience and training.

Meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Professional Qualification Standards, published in the Code of Federal Regulations, 36 CFR Part 61.


Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commision Logo

September 18, 2019
by Karen Galle
1 Comment

December means Holidays and Historical Markers!

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) invites members of the public to prepare and submit marker nominations for the upcoming December 1, 2019 annual deadline.  The Historical Marker Program is one of PHMC’s most popular public programs, with nearly 2,500 markers throughout the Commonwealth and new ones dedicated each year. 

Nominating markers

The nomination process has gone from being exclusively staff driven through a transitional period to being exclusively public driven.  Staff can provide assistance with preparation of nominations, but interested members of the public are responsible for the completion of nomination forms and doing the research to document the subjects’ significance. 

It can be a lot of fun to discover a person, place, event, or innovation that you or many members of the public were not aware of and bring the subject to light in the form of a marker.  Markers are a great source of community pride.

Advertisement for slinky toy showing boy and a slinky.
A Historical Marker for the Slinky was recently dedicated in Clifton Heights, PA.

Evaluating markers

The Commission has established Approval Criteria for evaluating marker nominations.  The criteria have been slightly revised since first adopted in the 1980s, but the primary criterion, “that the subject have statewide and/or national rather than local or regional historical significance” remains in effect. 

A requirement for inclusion of scholarly documentation with each nomination is also important to verify claims of significance in the narrative portion of the nomination.  Nominators are expected to include both primary and secondary source material. 

Additionally, there is a requirement that the subject, if an individual, have a substantial connection to Pennsylvania, more than simply having been born here.  The person must have spent enough time in Pennsylvania to have been shaped here, got their start in their life’s profession here, and/or have exhibited a long-term effect of having lived in the Commonwealth.

Historical Marker for Dr. Anna E. Broomall in Chester, Delaware County.

Marking underrepresented people, places, events, and innovations

PHMC is especially interested in encouraging markers for subjects or in regions of PA that are generally underrepresented. 

To further this aim, historical societies in counties where there are 10 or less markers as well as minority commissions under the Governor’s jurisdiction have been contacted to encourage them to promote marker nominations in those areas or related to minority history.  PHMC has committed funds to cover the manufacturing costs for a handful of these markers each year.

This year, PHMC has agreed to support the Pandenarium marker in Mercer County and the Cynthia Catlin Miller marker in Warren County, both scheduled for installation and dedication this fall. 

Pandenarium is a historic archaeological site of a free African American community that was established in the 1850s.  It fits two of categories PHMC is anxious to promote:  African American history markers in counties other than Philadelphia and archaeology-related markers. 

Current view of Pandenarium, Mercer County.

Cynthia Catlin Miller was an abolitionist leader active in the Underground Railroad.  It fits three of categories that PHMC is anxious to promote:  African American history markers in counties other than Philadelphia, markers for notable women, and under-represented counties (10 extant). 

We anticipate the opportunity to support several nominations for under-represented markers again this year.

PHMC recently launched a social media campaign using historical markers to commemorate 400 years of African American history in North America.  We join the 400 Years of African-American History Commission, other cultural and historical institutions, and media organizations to commemorate this legacy and recognize the contributions made by these enslaved and later free people by launching a social media campaign. 

This was the first of series of posts about African American history in Pennsylvania.

Each week through February 2020, PHMC will feature selected stories to highlight the multifaceted African American experience across Pennsylvania and will include both well-known and lesser-known people, places and themes. PHMC will share these over all of its social media platforms and encourages its thousands of followers to share these posts using the hashtag #400yearsPA.

We can help

It is generally helpful for a potential nominator to consult with PHMC staff in the initial stages of his or her research.  Staff is available to review draft nominations, and can provide advice on whether or not a particular subject is viable and suggest ways to adjust focus or sources to pursue that would afford one a better chance for approval.  To allow time to make revisions to your nomination and meet the December 1 deadline, drafts must be submitted prior to November 1, 2019.

You can also join us for an informative webinar, “Tips & Tricks for a Successful Application,” on Tuesday, September 24, 2019 at 10:00.  Click here for more information and instructions for connecting with us.

So, do a little research.  See if you can dig up an interesting and significant tidbit of history related to your community.  If interested in learning about how to apply for a PHMC marker or simply to learn more about the Historical Marker Program, please visit our website at


September 11, 2019
by Guest Contributor

CRGIS your Commute!

The Philadelphia and Lancaster Turnpike is the oldest paved highway in America. It was chartered in 1792 and opened in 1795, connecting farmers in Lancaster County with markets in Philadelphia via a state-of-the-art crushed gravel (or “macadamized”) surface pioneered by Scottish engineer John Loudon Macadam to prevent the wheels of wagons and carriages from sinking into the notorious mud of standard dirt roads.

Continue Reading →