Pennsylvania Agricultural History Project


Farming has guided Pennsylvania's economic growth and cultural development and has profoundly shaped the lands and people of the Commonwealth. Road improvement activities, new housing construction, and economic development projects together exert enormous pressure on agricultural lands. Every year the Federal Highways Administration, PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission's Bureau for Historic Preservation (BHP) evaluate hundreds of historic agricultural resources as part of the planning process for transportation projects across the state. Deciding which resources merit historic preservation requires high quality accessible information. In the face of sprawl, multiple initiatives across the state seek to protect historic open space, farmland, and natural historic resources. Heritage Tourism and education projects seek reliable information about rural historic resources for planning and interpretation. The goal of this project was to create a source of information to help inform these planning efforts.

Jayne's Bend Archaeological District - Mehoopany Township, Wyoming County
Jayne's Bend Archaeological District Mehoopany Township, Wyoming County


What is the Project?

The "Pennsylvania Agricultural History Project" includes narrative histories describing the evolution of different farming systems around the state, historic census data, a field guide to historic farm buildings and landscapes, and bibliographic resources. Developed to support the evaluation of farming resources for eligibility to the National Register of Historic Places, the project provides the data and guidance needed for state and federal agencies, scholars, teachers, and the public. With funding from the Federal Highways Administration, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and PennDOT's Bureau of Design worked with the Pennsylvania State University (PSU) to develop a Multiple Property Documentation Form (MPDF) for Pennsylvania's historic agricultural resources. This MPDF will establish clear and specific guidance on questions of National Register eligibility, defining standards for significance and integrity according to the National Register Criteria and guidelines.

This is a comprehensive planning document that addresses the scope and character of Pennsylvania's historic agricultural resources that we are hopeful will be a valuable tool that can be used to protect natural and historic resources that comprise Pennsylvania's "farm country."

Principal Investigator and Project Coordinator: Sally McMurry, Professor of History, and the Faculty Associate is Cecilia Rusnak, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture, The Pennsylvania State University. Research Assistants: Elizabeth Anderson, Jeremy Ammerman, Brent Biggs, Ann Brinton, Ashley Burchell, Aaron Collins, Makenzie Diehl, Andrew Douglas, Jill Gomez, David Greenspoon, Aislynn Herbst, Jessica Kubiske, Benjamin Harvey, John Hoenig, James Lewis, Kevin Lowe, Jitesh Malik, Katherine Maas, Rachel Moran, Timothy Orr, Andrew Prymak, Adam Rogers, Audrey Schwartzberg, Brandelyn Shackelford, Elizabeth Vose, Timothy Wesley, Jason Bedford, and William Bryan. Project Managers: Carol Lee, Bureau for Historic Preservation, PHMC, and Kara Russell, Bureau of Design, PennDOT. Staff Consultants: Keith Heinrich, PHMC; Matt Hamel, PennDOT; Joe Baker, PennDOT; David Anthony, PennDOT; Scott Shaffer, PennDOT; Mark Shaffer, PHMC; Jeffrey Decker, PHMC.

Aerial View - Farm, Huntington Township
Aerial View - Farm, Huntington Township, Luzerne County


Project Partners

  • Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
  • Pennsylvania Department of Transportation
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • Federal Highway Administration


The activity that is the subject of this project has been financed in part with funds from the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. However, the contents and opinions do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of the Interior, nor does the mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Department of the Interior. This program receives Federal financial assistance for identification and protection of historic properties. Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, as amended, the U.S. Department of the Interior prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability or age in its federally assisted programs. If you believe you have been discriminated against in any program, activity, or facility as described above, or if you desire further information, please write to:

Office of Equal Opportunity
National Park Service 1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20240