History of the Anthracite Heritage Museum and Iron Furnaces Associates
The Museum’s Associates group did not start when the Museum officially opened its doors to the public. In fact, there was no official group for several years. As related by Mrs. Adrienne Horger, whose article on the early history of the Associates group appeared in the Nov./Dec. 1995 issue of the Miner’s Lamp, volunteer help recruited primarily by volunteer Betty Ann Diefenbacher, such as the Junior League of Scranton, aided the museum staff then.
On March 23, 1982, Director David Salay apparently felt that the volunteer base had expanded sufficiently to possibly support a “Friends of the Museum” association, similar to other groups at museums of the PHMC. On that date, he sent a letter to Ms. Ann Powell of Scranton outlining his proposal.
Events quickly followed and regular meetings began in April, 1982. At the second meeting of this Associates group, officers were elected, a Board Of Directors was formed, by-laws were presented, discussed and adopted, and it was voted to proceed with the Standard Agreement between this Associates group and the PHMC. The group was officially incorporated in June 1982, and its non-profit status granted in December 1982.
The Associates started as the “Scranton Anthracite Museum Associates”. The group was instrumental in having the Iron Furnaces added to the Museum Complex. At this point, on April 12, 1984, its name was officially changed to the “Scranton Anthracite Museum and Iron Furnaces Associates”. Later, in 1987, the name changed once more to the “Pennsylvania Anthracite Heritage Museum and Iron Furnaces Associates”.
From the beginning, the Associates have been involved with both the Museum and the Iron Furnaces, working with the Museum staff and directors to help sustain both sites with volunteers, supporting and enhancing programs, exhibits, and site improvements.
Communications with the growing Associates membership has been through the Miner’s Lamp newsletter, which began within a year of the group, its first issue being sent out for September, 1983. A review of Lamp issues contain requests for volunteers to help in various Museum functions, and also contain information on Museum events where Museum directors have thanked those who did and awarded multi-year service certificates to members. Each year an Associate is selected for a Volunteer Of The Year award for exceptional help to the Museum.
Associates are able to get together at least twice a year at semi-annual dinners, and also by attending Associates’ bus trips to other museums and tourist areas, many of which are detailed over the years in the Miner¹s Lamp issues. Free Museum admission and lectures also help promote the group, and a discount in the Gift Shop has been available since the shop started.
Funds accumulated by the Associates group has been a source of aid to the needs of the Museum. The Associates is also the group which can and does apply for grants to help fund special Museum exhibits and programs. In addition, the group created the Anthracite Press which has funded completely or partially several books related to the theme of the Museum.
The Associates were started and lead by forward-looking, talented people who knew how to draw upon the local community to advance the goals set up by the Board, recruit people with the necessary skills and expertise to do it, and begin the buildup of the Associates base of membership that is the source of the leadership and volunteer help available to the Museum today and into the future.