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About the Literary and Cultural Heritage Maps of Pennsylvania

Welcome to the Literary and Cultural Heritage Maps of Pennsylvania! This page describes the purpose, scope, and principles of our work; project team and contact information; the editorial board; notes about history, diversity, equity, and inclusion; instructions for using and citing our project; prior sponsors and grantors; and ways for you to get involved. If your questions aren’t answered below, please contact Bernadette A. Lear, Affiliate Faculty, Pennsylvania Center for the Book.

Purpose, Scope, and Principles

The Literary and Cultural Heritage Maps of Pennsylvania is a digital humanities project developed and maintained by the Pennsylvania Center for the Book (PACFTB), a state affiliate of the Library of Congress Center for the Book. PACFTB is currently located within the Penn State University Libraries, at the University Park campus. Its mission is to “study, honor, celebrate, and promote books, reading, libraries, and literacy to the citizens and residents of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

The purposes of the Literary and Cultural Heritage Maps project are to:

  • Utilize place and proximity to foster literary and cultural engagement and connections within and across Pennsylvania communities.
  • Promote awareness of the many contributions Pennsylvanians have made to literature, culture, and other fields of endeavor.
  • Provide substantiated information about Pennsylvania people and topics that are of national literary and cultural interest.
  • Establish credible documentation and references for persons who have made literary and cultural contributions to Pennsylvania, yet who have not been adequately credited elsewhere.
  • Acknowledge and document Pennsylvanians who have been selected for Pennsylvania Center for the Book awards and honors.
  • Support elementary, secondary, and higher education coursework and pedagogy by providing high-quality information and curriculum materials related to Pennsylvania literary and cultural heritage.
  • Provide meaningful authorship and editorial opportunities to Pennsylvania educators, historians, librarians, students, and residents.

The project currently contains over 1,000 biographies of literary and cultural figures who are connected to Pennsylvania, about 300 feature articles concerning Pennsylvania cultural history topics, plus a Literary Heritage Map, a Cultural Heritage Map, and other maps that present similar information geospatially. Corresponding curricula encourage educational use of the sites. We aim to include all literary genres and all cultural history topics from pre-colonial times to the present.

Launched in 2000, the content and display of our site have evolved significantly over the past 20+ years. It has been the work of many hands and continues to be a work-in-progress. Today, we operate with the following guiding principles:

  • We will represent all geographic locations and demographic groups that have contributed to Pennsylvania’s literary and cultural heritage. To address historical exclusions, we will prioritize women, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), LGBTQ+ persons, people with disabilities, and other previously-marginalized and underrepresented groups in the expansion of our site.
  • We will center diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in our decision-making and operations.
  • We will empower and equip educators, historians, librarians, students, and others who choose to work with us.
  • We will strive for high levels of accuracy and quality in all our products, including our biographies, feature articles, maps, and curricula.
  • We will learn from mistakes and act promptly upon suggestions to improve our content, sites, and procedures.
  • We will examine editorial policies and procedures regularly, especially to ask how systemic bias may be influencing the project’s development.

Project Team and Contact Information

Editorial Board

  • Bernadette A. Lear Editorial Board Chair
  • Alicia Bott (Term: 2021-2024), Lecturer of American Studies and Art History, Penn State Harrisburg/Penn State University Park
  • Courtney Carr (Term: 2022-2024), Resident Director, Temple University
  • Russell Frank (Term: 2021-2024), Associate Professor of Communications, Penn State University Park
  • Teresa Giménez (Term: 2022-2025), Lecturer, Hispanic Studies, University of Pennsylvania
  • Stephanie Gray (Term: 2023-2025), Assistant Professor of Public History, Duquesne University
  • Katharina Hering (Term: 2023-2025), Adjunct Faculty, Department of History and Art History, George Mason University
  • Sarah Myers (Term: 2023-2025), Public Services Librarian, Messiah University
  • Amanda Peters (Term: 2021-2024), Archivist, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
  • Matthew Wayman (Term: 2021-2024), Head Librarian, Penn State Schuylkill
  • Charles R. Welsko, III (Term: 2023-2025), Digital Documentary Editor, Kentucky Historical Society
  • Barbara Zaborowski (Term: 2021-2024), Dean of Library Services and Special Projects, Pennsylvania Highlands Community College
  • Mary Zaborskis (Term: 2022-2025), Assistant Professor of American Studies and Gender Studies, Penn State Harrisburg

History, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Dr. Steven L. Herb, former Director of Pennsylvania Center for the Book, was inspired by a paper-based map developed in the 1950s and initiated an online Literary Map project in 2000. In the early years of the project, geographic diversity was a focus; for example, one of the first goals was to identify at least one notable literary author for each of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. A few years later, the project expanded to encompass feature articles on businesses, cultural phenomena, events, and historical sites, evolving into the Literary and Cultural Heritage Maps of Pennsylvania as they exist today. In the decades since the Maps were created, scholarly and popular understandings of “literature” and “culture” have evolved substantially, as have methods for identifying accomplishments in those fields. At the same time, Penn State University Libraries (our sponsoring organization) has increasingly embraced diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. Like our project’s sponsor, current project contributors are now committed to “disrupting racism, hate and bias whenever and wherever we encounter it” and “creating the most inclusive and diverse community that we possibly can.”

Since the online Maps were launched, we have periodically focused on enhancing content related to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and other populations, often by utilizing specific interns to write new material. However, we have not always been mindful of the effects procedural decisions may have on the inclusivity of our project. For example, our project’s biographical criteria once required national recognition “demonstrated by at least five vetted forms of recognition" in the subject’s field. While some parameters continue to be needed in order to define the project’s scope and help us prioritize our work, we now understand that strict requirements for public recognition can introduce systemic bias, particularly for historical periods when the contributions of women and BIPOC were not acknowledged by their contemporaries. We are aware that Asian, Black, Latinx, Native, and LGBTQ+ persons, as well as people with disabilities, are grossly underrepresented in the project. Coverage of various Pennsylvania counties is inadequate as well.

We are striving to address these inequities and we welcome the public’s help in doing so. Since 2019, we have:

  • Assigned an Affiliate Faculty member (Bernadette A. Lear) with graduate-level training in American Studies (including Race and Ethnicity) and Children’s Literature (including Cultural Pluralism) to focus on the project.
  • Established an Editorial Board to review existing project documentation; recommend biographical and topical candidates for inclusion; pursue regional collaborations; and review incoming submissions.
  • Revised the project's Inclusion Criteria. Current criteria include: 1). Alignment with PACFTB's mission, 2). Rootedness in Pennsylvania, 3). Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, 4). Achievements / Contributions, 5). Lack of Similar Biographical Coverage, and 5). Relevance to Pennsylvania Educational Standards.
  • Revised the project's Instructions to Authors and Instructions to Reviewers, including additional material and resources pertaining to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
  • Utilized a Bednar intern (Marcelle Thomas) to update and author more than 60 biographies. Approximately 2/3 of the entries were about women and/or people of color.

In the 2022/2023 and 2023/2024 academic years, we plan to:

  • Expand our editorial board to include more Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.
  • Prioritize women, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, LGBTQ+ persons, people with disabilities, and other previously-marginalized and underrepresented groups in the expansion of our site.
  • Continue to review and revise our procedural documentation, paying particular attention to concerns about diversity, equity, and inclusion.

We welcome comments, suggestions, and partnerships from all users of our site. To get in touch, contact Bernadette A. Lear.

Using and Citing the Project

At present, there are several ways to explore the Literary and Cultural Heritage Maps of Pennsylvania. This YouTube video demonstrates how to navigate the site. From the home page, you can search for a person by name, or you can find lists of biographies by choosing among the drop-down options for occupation or county. To the left, you can find A-Z lists of all our biographies and feature articles. Further down the home page, there are links to various maps, enabling you to explore our content visually.

The biographies and feature articles on our site were authored from 2000 to the present. Prior to 2021, they were editorially reviewed, rather than peer-reviewed. While we believe they were accurate at the time of publication, some entries are no longer up to date. Neither the Pennsylvania Center for the Book nor Penn State University Libraries assume any liability for the content on our sites. Creation dates, revision dates, and sources appear at the bottom of each entry. We encourage users to seek additional material to verify and expand upon what we offer.

All biographies, feature articles, and maps are available with a Creative Commons CC:BY (attribution) license, meaning that you may share and build upon our work. All biographies and feature articles are signed, so please credit the authors accordingly:

Recommended APA (7th) Citation Format

Lastname, F. M. (date of last update). Title of entry. In Pennsylvania Center for the Book, Literary and Cultural Heritage Maps of Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania State University. URL

Sample APA (7th) Citation

Jalowitz, A. (Fall 2020). Anna Grossnickle Hines. In Pennsylvania Center for the Book, Literary and Cultural Heritage Maps of Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania State University.   

Recommended Chicago (17th) Citation Format

Lastname, Firstname M. “Title of Entry.” In Pennsylvania Center for the Book, Literary and Cultural Heritage Maps of Pennsylvania. University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University, Year of creation. URL.

Sample Chicago (17th) Citation

Jalowitz, Alan. “Anna Grossnickle Hines.” In Pennsylvania Center for the Book, Literary and Cultural Heritage Maps of Pennsylvania. University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University, 2005.

Recommended MLA Citation (9th) Format

Lastname, Firstname. "Title of Entry." Literary and Cultural Heritage Maps of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Center for the Book, date of last update, URL. Access date.

Sample MLA (9th) citation

Jalowitz, Alan. “Anna Grossnickle Hines.” Literary and Cultural Heritage Maps of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Center for the Book, Fall 2020, Accessed 28 Nov. 2022. 

Getting Involved

Please help make the Literary and Cultural Heritage Maps of Pennsylvania the best freely-available source of information about Pennsylvania’s literary and cultural history! Below are some of the ways you can get involved. Contact Bernadette A. Lear to get started. 

  • Nominate people and topics for inclusion in the project.
  • Help us revise existing entries. Especially let us know about any needed corrections, updates, or other edits.
  • Write for us. First, get in touch with Bernadette A. Lear to discuss potential topics.
  • Let us know if you’re using our site, whether for your own research, for teaching purposes, or for other reasons.
  • Donate to Penn State University Libraries, especially the Steven Herb Literary Legacy fund, which supports the Pennsylvania Center for the Book.
  • Stay in touch by following us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
  • Tell others about our site. Share links through email or social media.

Sponsorships, Grantors, and Other Acknowledgments

Penn State University Libraries provides ongoing administrative support, space, and in-kind contributions to the Pennsylvania Center for the Book, including the Literary and Cultural Heritage Maps of Pennsylvania project. University Libraries’ Marie Bednar Libraries Internship Program has provided many interns over the years. In addition, other units within the university have provided student internships including:

The project grew exponentially under the supervision of Dr. Alan Jalowitz, Literary Map Editor and Instructor in Penn State’s Department of English, who authored numerous biographies and involved hundreds of students with the project between 2005 and 2012. Dr. Jalowitz also initiated the Feature Articles series, highlighting Pennsylvania businesses, events, and sites. In addition, he engaged students at Lock Haven University and West Chester University in writing biographies for us. We also acknowledge Marianne Black, a 2019-2020 Bednar intern who meticulously worked to refine and clean the Maps' geospatial data and redesign the chronological maps into the user-friendly series that exists today. The project has also benefited from collaborations with colleagues involved in other PACFTB initiatives, particularly the Baker’s Dozen, the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, the Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize, and the Public Poetry Project, which recognize authors in Pennsylvania and around the world.

We are immensely grateful to all faculty, staff, students, volunteers, and other contributors! Thank you!

Awards and Other Recognitions

  • Boorstin Award for Innovative and Creative Reading Promotion Projects, Center for the Book, Library of Congress, 2005.
  • Certificate of Commendation, Pennsylvania Citizens for Better Libraries, 2004.

Related Projects

Other digital projects related to Pennsylvania culture, history, and literature include: