Pennsylvania State Historical Markers
The historical marker program, established in 1946, is one of the Commission’s oldest and most popular programs. The blue and gold markers located throughout the state highlight people, places, and events significant in state and national history. More than 2,000 cast aluminum markers tell the stories of Native Americans and settlers, government and politics, athletes, entertainers, artists, struggles for freedom and equality, factories and businesses, and a multitude of other topics.
New markers are approved and placed along Pennsylvania highways and city streets each year. Most markers are dedicated in public events featuring public officials, local historians, community representatives, and others. Each dedication presents opportunities for Pennsylvanians to celebrate and understand their heritage.
Nominations for historical markers may be submitted by any person or organization. Nominations postmarked by December 15 each year are evaluated by a panel of independent experts from across the state and reviewed by PHMC commissioners the following spring.
Once approved, staff members work with nominators to prepare marker text, select dedication dates, and arrange appropriate dedication ceremonies, generally within a year of approval.
Limited matching grants are available for the manufacture of markers, and nominators should be prepared to share in the costs of their marker’s fabrication.
The PHMC maintains its historical markers on a cyclical basis through a contract. If you wish to report a marker as missing, broken, or in poor condition, please E-mail the Historical Marker Program.
GUIDELINES FOR APPROVAL OF HISTORICAL MARKERS
Adopted by Resolution of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
October 23, 2002, and amended June 16, 2006
- That the nomination be submitted in a clear and organized manner, including thorough documentation (from primary and secondary sources) and verification of the facts claimed.
- That the person, event, or site to be commemorated has had a meaningful impact on its times and be of statewide or national rather than only local significance.
- That only historical subjects (rather than current events) be considered.
- That significant subjects which have hitherto been given less attention by the Historical Marker Program receive more favorable consideration (other factors being equal) than subjects which have already had fuller coverage.
- That people and their activities receive more favorable treatment than buildings or sites.
- That historically recognized personages shall no longer be living, and that the place of their accomplishments in history shall have become established.
- That churches, schools, headquarters of societies, organizations, institutions, etc., be encouraged to erect their own signs or markers (consistent with legal requirements) if the subject does not meet the requirements of these guidelines.
- That requests for graveyard markers for war veterans be referred to the Director of Military Affairs within the county concerned.
- That requests for marking geographical or topographical features be referred to an appropriate agency.
- That locations or individuals already commemorated with existing monuments or markers receive less favorable consideration than those not previously recognized.
- That subjects that have been nominated, reviewed, and disapproved by the Commission in three consecutive years shall become ineligible for Commission consideration for a period of three years.
- That any person who served as Governor of Pennsylvania shall be approved as the subject of a historical marker (subject to Guideline #5).
- That any historic site or property owned by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission shall be approved as the subject of a historical marker.
If you have questions about the program, you can reach the PHMC by telephone at (717) 705-4266 or go to the PHMC web site here.
You can also write the PHMC at the following address:
Historical Marker Program
Division of History
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
Commonwealth Keystone Building, Plaza Level
400 North Street
Harrisburg, PA 17120-0053
Persons who are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired who wish to contact a hearing person via Text Telephone may use the PA Relay Center at 1-800-654-5984.