A special theme issue of Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies is part of a 2021 National Leadership in History Award bestowed by the American Association for State and Local History.

The overall award was for the Digital Harrisburg Initiative (a project of Messiah University, Harrisburg University, and community partners) and centered especially on the Commonwealth Monument Project, a project to honor African Americans and others in the old Eighth Ward of Harrisburg. The special issue (Vol. 87.1, January 2020) of Pennsylvania History titled, “Harrisburg, Digital History, and the ‘City Beautiful’” was a component of Digital Harrisburg and the CMP.

The Digital Harrisburg Initiative (DHI) is devoted to generating evocative and timely histories of Pennsylvania’s state capital region through digital and public projects. DHI is marketed to audiences via public programming, social media, and a dedicated website: https://digitalharrisburg.com. It functions as a portal to various projects. The work builds on partnerships with historians, humanists, and GIS professors at Messiah and Harrisburg University, as well as community organizations, state librarians and archivists, and many university students in the humanities and geospatial studies.

One of the most important recent activities included the special issue of Pennsylvania History. The guest editors were Drs. David Pettegrew and James LaGrand, both of Messiah University. Pennsylvania History editor Linda Ries approached the two about producing a special issue after witnessing their presentations at the annual meetings of the Pennsylvania Historical Association and the American Historical Association. The edition offers a critical rereading of Harrisburg’s nationally important City Beautiful Movement through the lenses of digital frameworks and public memory, as well as producing historical studies of the region’s underrecognized African American community. It features twenty-two articles by historians, artists, and technologists such as Albert Sarvis, Michael Barton, Lisa Boehm, Susan Rimby, and Messiah students.

The publication was generously funded by Messiah University and the Historic Harrisburg Association. Earlier in 2021, it also won a PAMuseums Institutional Achievement Award.

Pennsylvania History is the scholarly journal of the Pennsylvania Historical Association. Copies of the special issue, or other issues can be purchased through the PHA business secretary or viewed electronically via JStor and ProjectMuse.