“Penn College’s History Trail is an excellent public history project,” said Melinda Meyer, a volunteer with the AASLH State Leadership Team for the awards program. “Their wayside markers and complementary website connect the college’s history with that of the Greater Williamsport community in a way that is fun and educational and accessible to all. They’ve done a tremendous job capturing and presenting stories collected from past faculty and students, and community residents and leadership.”
Terri Blanchette, a volunteer with the awards program’s National Leadership Team, especially appreciated the attention to detail in making the all-weather markers accurate and informative, yet appealing and interesting to viewers.
“Capturing the history that is gone to make way for ‘progress,’ including the college buildings – and then reconnecting the community to that history – not only honored the community's roots but also saved valuable information for future generations,” she said. “This project is a national model for other organizations that may want to connect with their community, especially if their sole or primary function is not that of a museum or history organization.”
The college’s award will be presented during a Sept. 19 banquet at the 2014 AASLH annual meeting in St. Paul, Minnesota.
“To receive an Award of Merit from the Leadership in History Awards during our Centennial year is truly an honor for Penn College,” President Davie Jane Gilmour said. “I invite members of the community to come on campus to walk the Penn College History Trail and learn more about the institution. The college has been part of this community now for a century. The history trail captures the essence of that connection.”
Developed by six employees in College Information & Community Relations, the Penn College History Trail winds its enlightening path through 17 stops, where freestanding signage – featuring archival and recent photographs, illustrative text, and fun facts – breathe life into decades of history.
“I want to congratulate the staff – and most especially K. Park Williams (coordinator of digital publishing), who led a small group that made the original proposal for the project – for designing and producing this award-winning History Trail,” department director Elaine J. Lambert said. “While honoring the legacies of the institution's leaders for the past century through its work on a number of Centennial projects, the staff also has now created its own legacy by leaving this History Trail for future generations to enjoy.”
The Nashville, Tennessee-based AASLH has sponsored the national awards program since 1945, with winners representing the best in the field and providing leadership for the future of state and local history.
The college’s award is one of 77 conferred this year by the nonprofit association upon people, projects, exhibits, books and organizations.
The Leadership in History Awards represent a yearlong, national effort that requires many hours of volunteer work. A national committee comprises representatives from 14 regions around the United States, and each state has at least one leadership chair who makes sure the best projects are brought to the attention of AASLH. For more, visit www.aaslh.org.
A complete list of sites along the Penn College History Trail, along with photos and narratives that put them in historical perspective, can be found at www.pct.edu/trail.
(Information from Joseph S. Yoder
Public Information Director
Pennsylvania College of Technology)
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