Westmoreland County Historical Society

Where History is Present

aka Historic Hanna's Town   |   Greensburg, PA   |  www.westmorelandhistory.org


The Westmoreland County Historical Society, founded in 1908, is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit educational organization dedicated to acquiring and managing resources related to the history of Westmoreland County and using these resources to encourage a diverse audience to make connections to the past, develop an understanding of the present, and provide direction for the future. The Westmoreland County Commissioners and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission recognize WCHS as the official county historical society. The Westmoreland County Historical Society is dedicated to advancing its mission by forming collaborations and partnerships with other public and private organizations with a similar mission.

Ruling year info


Executive Director

Ms. Lisa C. Hays

Main address

809 Forbes Trail Road

Greensburg, PA 15601 USA

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NTEE code info

Management & Technical Assistance (A02)

Adult, Continuing Education (B60)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

There is a lack of knowledge about our country's history and Westmoreland County's role in Pennsylvania, national, and world history. With a growing emphasis on STEM (science, technology, math) in public schools, history education is relegated to a lower priority. This resulting lack of historical context is a disservice to society.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Historic Hanna's Town

Founded along the Forbes Rd in 1769, Hanna's Town served as the first county seat of Westmoreland and site of the first English court west of the Allegheny Mountains. In May 1775, residents of the county adopted the Hanna's Town Resolves proclaiming their willingness to fight to protect their rights against British oppression. The town was attacked and destroyed on July 13, 1782, by Seneca and their English allies. Since 1969, the WCHS has partnered with Westmoreland County Parks to maintain Historic Hanna's Town and interpret its history. Programs use local events to illustrate issues of our nation's founding: causes of the American Revolution, the often contrary relations between colonies, concern of Native Americans with white settlement, justice and the Bill of Rights, and social life and living standards in 18th century America. Programs include: guided tours, school field trips, summer camp, frontier court reenactments, encampments, and demonstrations.

Population(s) Served

The Calvin A. Pollins Library contains over 6,000 books and paper collections of genealogical resources and local, community, and regional history. The Library is open year-round, 32 hours a week, and is visited by county residents and researchers from across the United States and other countries. A staff person or trained volunteer is available to help visitors find material pertinent to their research. Research services are available on a contract basis. Programs are offered each year to help people with their genealogical research. The Library includes materials such as: family histories; family correspondence files; cemetery records; tax records; census; vital statistics; military records; wills and letters of administration data; church records and histories; community, county, and state histories; Colonial Records; Pennsylvania Archives; vertical files; and many books on various historical subjects.

Population(s) Served

"Westmoreland History" is a magazine published three times a year and styled to be readable and accessible for a broad audience. Each issue has feature articles, many photographs, and recurring departments such as "First Person," "In Brief," "Discover Westmoreland," "In Review," "A Second Look," and "Did You Know?." It is mailed to all WCHS members, as a benefit of membership, and also to public and private schools in Westmoreland County. It is sold at several retail outlets including Barnes and Noble and community libraries and newsstands. Articles include all aspects of Westmoreland County's history, from pre-European settlement through the latter part of the 20th century, and from all geographic regions within the historic boundaries of the county. Articles, some solicited from the public and others assigned to established writers by the editor, contain well researched and documented material that helps the reader to better understand Westmoreland County's history.

Population(s) Served

Adult & Family Educational Programs are offered throughout the year on a broad range of historical topics. Programs are chosen and developed by a committee that works in consultation with the staff. The input of a broad range of people give breadth to the topics addressed. Some recent presentations: Iron Furnaces of Westmoreland CountyWhiskey, Music and Magic: Another View of the Scots-IrishCommunications & Wampum in Native American CultureOvercoming the Stumbling Blocks to Genealogical Research 18th Century Land Records in Southwestern PAThe King's Orchard (Gardens at Fort Pitt) Motor coach trip to GettysburgDrums of Native SistersJohn Sinclair Forbes Trail Hike: Fort Dewart & BeyondSt. Clair Lecture: Andrew W. Mellon: Making Money and Giving it AwayCemetery Tours & Book signings Antique Christmas OrnamentsItalian Regional Christmas Foods and TraditionsGenealogy for BeginnersThe Horseshoe Curve: Sabotage and Subversion During WWII

Population(s) Served

This award is presented annually to those individuals, organizations, businesses or educational institutions that have made a significant and sustainable contribution to the preservation of our historic places, documents, records or stories, and by doing so, are keeping alive Westmoreland County's rich history and heritage for future generations. This is the WCHS's effort to recognize and encourage the work of others in history education and preservation. Many people labor, largely unheralded, because they are passionate about a particular aspect of history - often community based. That makes them specialists, and their expertise provides depth to the story of Westmoreland County and enables the preservation of local structures and stories that might otherwise be unnoticed. This awards program started in 2000 and has grown to become the WCHS's signature event. The appreciation of the award has also grown as evidenced by the many nominations received each year.

Population(s) Served

The Archives
The archives houses a variety of photographic images, correspondence, organizational minutes and records, unpublished documents, as well as rare and limited edition pamphlets and publications from the 18th through mid-20th centuries. These items are related to residents and organizations from Westmoreland County.

Curatorial (Objects) Collection
The curatorial collection consists of items as varied as furniture, memorabilia, musical instruments, and textiles. The textile collection, one of the largest, has examples of clothing and accessories from the early 19th century through mid-20th centuries. One prized garment includes Richard Coulter's army jacket from the Mexican War.

The Hanna's Town site is an archaeological treasure because it is a sealed time capsule from an early and important period in the history of our country and provides remarkable insight into late 1700's frontier living. The site has already produced in excess of one million artifacts that are currently catalogued and stored at various locations on and off site. These artifacts can be extremely instructional to the community at large. Plans are underway to make significant displays available to the general public in the Westmoreland History Education Center, currently under construction. These resources are appealing to archaeological professionals and students interested in the material culture of the waning British colonial frontier and the emerging American republic.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

We work to educate the public about Westmoreland County history and show how it relates to national and world events. We enlighten historical context and make connections between various historical sites and events.

We put an emphasis on using local history to tell the broader history of the United States and the world. People can most directly relate to their own community's history, and we use that to help them connect to the bigger picture.

Guided tours and interactive programs at Historic Hanna's Town, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, tell the story of the frontier during the Revolutionary War and the roots of the American justice system.

"Westmoreland History" magazine is published three times a year. Articles include all aspects of Westmoreland County's history from pre-European settlement through the latter part of the 20th century.

We conduct programs for all ages on various aspects of Westmoreland County history and how it relates to the broader story of the U.S. and the world.

We collaborate with other organizations with a history focus and offer non-financial support to smaller local historical societies, many with no professional staff.

The highly motivated staff includes an executive director, coordinator of collections & interpretation, education coordinator, and a library coordinator. All have bachelor's degrees, and two have masters degrees in their field. We also employ a seasonal tour guide, who is usually a college student. Staff members train and supervise an amazing and dedicated group of 40 key volunteers and another 50 who volunteer for at least one event a year. The Board of Directors is composed of accomplished professionals and community volunteers who have a passion for history and are well-respected in their various fields.

We have a memorandum of understanding with the Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) for archaeology at Historic Hanna's Town. IUP has conducted field schools at the site. The site's archaeological resources provide IUP students with research projects, which in turn expand our knowledge of the artifacts and what they tell us about life on the 18th century frontier.

The guided tours and programs at Historic Hanna's Town are well developed, polished, varied, and continue to grow. We offer a variety of interesting programs about other aspects of history.

We have the best genealogical library in the county and provide research services to those who cannot or do not want to do their own research related to Westmoreland County.

"Westmoreland History" magazine is a quality publication benefitting from the expertise of design, proofreading, and research professionals, several of who volunteer their services.

Our collection is significant, unique, and constantly growing. We look forward to exhibiting pieces of the collection, in the new Westmoreland History Education Center.

We raised over $2.7 million to build the Westmoreland History Education Center at Historic Hanna's Town, which is currently under construction. This facility will provide new opportunities for exhibits and related programs, as well as collaboration with other groups.


Westmoreland County Historical Society

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


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Westmoreland County Historical Society

Board of directors
as of 5/22/2020
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Mr. Michael Cary

Seton Hill University

Term: 2020 - 2021

Board co-chair

Mr Jim Clayton

Arbor Industrial Supplies

Term: 2020 - 2021

Mary Ellen Miller

Retired Public School Teacher

Daniel Dunlap III

215 Wealth

Jim Clayton

Arbor Industrial Supplies

Susan Sommers

Saint Vincent College

Michael Cary

Seton Hill University

Deborah Delisi

Retired Educatior

Laura Gutnick

Private Practice Attorney

Jason Hitchman

Hefren-Tillotson, Inc.

Robert Kendra

Retired Executive Kennametal

Allen Kukovich

Retired Public Official

William Rathgeb

Diocese of Greensburg

Kenneth Stough

Hempfield School District

Denis Zuzik

Private Practice Attorney

Phyllis Bertok

Retired BNY Mellon

Rob Malley

Retired Mine Safety Appliances

Ruth Tolbert

Retired First Energy

Alice Kaylor

Retired St. Vincent College

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? No
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? No
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No