Site History
Site History

The idea for first took shape early in the year 2000. Kathleen Pavelko, President and CEO of WITF, Inc. (Harrisburg's PBS and NPR affiliate), imagined the creation of an online resource that would make innovative use of the nearly 2,000 historical markers that the state's official history agency, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC), had been placing on the Pennsylvania landscape since 1946. The new web site would make Pennsylvania and American history more exciting and available to public audiences, while providing educational resources for K-12 teachers and promoting visitation to the state's many historic sites and museums. When Pavelko and her colleagues from the Pennsylvania Public Television Network presented the idea for such a web site to officials at the PHMC, they quickly agreed to a partnership. And was born. was launched in the spring of 2003 with support from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, the William Penn Foundation, and the United States Department of Education. From the start, WITF has assumed responsibilities for project management, while PHMC has taken on content management responsibilities. WITF has managed funds and overseen the site's initial technical development by Pittsburgh-based firm Ripple Effects Interactive and subsequent development by MATRIX, a program based at Michigan State University. PHMC has worked with the Pennsylvania Historical Association, the Pennsylvania Federation of Museums and Historical Organizations, and history professionals across the state to create the site's content. The two partners also worked with the Ridgway School District to secure and manage Teaching American History Grants and grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities to produce educational content.

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