Mission, Vision, & Values
The Historical Society of Pennsylvania (HSP) has adopted a bold new vision that represents a transformative moment for the organization. HSP’s mission is to make history relevant and exhilarating to all by creating access and delivering content for 21st century audiences. History matters; history is alive; history informs culture and identity; history includes us all; and history must be documented and communicated. HSP will achieve its mission by:
- Being a voice that catalyzes informed dialogue on contemporary issues and inspires curiosity to delve into history and share its stories;
- Conducting, facilitating, and disseminating primary research in partnership with underrepresented communities and those who study them; and,
- Becoming the leading center for genealogical research to highlight the stories of all people.
While the importance of HSP’s historic archival collections has not diminished, the business model supporting our organization has grown tenuous. Historical institutions face the essential challenge of providing relevance. HSP will make history and the stories told in historical documents highly relevant to the nation’s social, political, and cultural discourse. HSP’s collections are best known for their size and for their treasures, such as the first draft of the U.S. Constitution and an original printer’s proof of the Declaration of Independence. Beyond the treasures, however, the value of the collections lies in their breadth. HSP’s materials illuminate the lives of the elite and the common man alike, recording all aspects of daily life and making HSP’s collections relevant to the experience of all Americans.
HSP’s primary strategies to achieve its vision are its three programmatic pillars:
- The Center for Public History and Education will communicate the connection between contemporary issues and historical context for a wide audience of teachers, young people, and lifelong learners in the United States and beyond. The Center will reach current and emerging civic leaders and educators, and actively collaborate with artists, writers, scholars, and all who creatively interpret history for a wide audience.
- The Balch Institute for the Study of American Identities will aim to conduct and facilitate research focused on American identities, particularly those populations that are typically underrepresented in the historical record. The Institute will operate in the traditional scholarly sphere while also conducting primary research in partnership with its communities of interest.
- The Library of American Experience manages stewardship of and access to HSP’s collections. Through its Center for Family and Community History, the Library provides dedicated support for family historians, and aims to be a nationwide resource for those seeking information about their ancestors, no matter where they originated.
HSP believes that it can make a significant contribution to contemporary discourse by connecting more people to history. This ability to tell the stories of everyone makes HSP’s collections a vital resource for all who wish to discover, study, and relate those narratives.