The Barbara Morgan Harvey Center for the Study of Oil Heritage, located in the Charles L. Suhr Library at Venango College of Clarion University, is the sponsor of a six-year project that has culminated into thirteen 50-minute videotaped interviews of community leaders and descendants of oil pioneers. Entitled Personal Recollections of the Pennsylvania Oil Region, the oral history videos will debut on Thursday, October 10th at Venango College of Clarion University in Oil City, Pa.
Videotaped interviews were conducted with a diverse group of individuals from the area, intended to illustrate and shed insight into their lives, activities, experiences and perceptions. The interviews were filmed in locations recognized as historically and culturally significant. The interviewees are either the focal point of the interview or serve in the role of a guide, providing insight into a series of topics of interest, activities and events. The interviews highlight the rich cultural heritage of the Oil Region of Pennsylvania, and all of the videos are hosted by local historian Neil McElwee. This fall Venango College will debut the videos in the Robert W. Rhoades Auditorium. All films are scheduled from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. unless noted otherwise.
The video schedule is as follows: Carolee K. Michener, author, historian, former editor of The News Herald and a long time leader of the Venango County Historical Society, and Clarence (Bud) Pelaghi, former editor of The Derrick and original founder and long time leader of the Oil City Heritage Society, will be featured on Thursday, October 10th; Pamela Egbert Forker, a former school teacher with a passion for oil history and a descendent of prominent founding families of the oil industry, and William L. Huber, independent oil producer, on Thursday, October 24th; R. William (Bill) Hawkins, a retired school teacher responsible for strong community early special education efforts and owner of a historic home, the "Old Innis House," and Robert Graham, a local clergyman known for his impact on a national scale in the speedway racing scene with sponsorships of Quaker State and Pennzoil, both companies that had a strong impact on the region, on Thursday, November 7th; Judge H. William White and Senator Mary Jo White, and former State Representative, Ronald E. Black on Thursday, November 21st ; Joann Wheeler, who plays a key role in leading the revitalization efforts for the arts and promotion of these efforts in the region, and Mary E. (Libby) Williams, a retired librarian for Venango College of Clarion University, an active business woman in the Oil City community, and a strong civic leader on Thursday, December 5th ; the late Frank V. Weltner, a long time career naval officer and submariner who mastered oil drilling rigs that were deployed nationally, Part I & II on Thursday, Dec. 19th; and Charles E. Breene, a member of a prominent early Oil City family and active in the enterprises of continued family businesses, on Thursday, January 9th from 6 p.m. - 7 p.m.
The Barbara Morgan Harvey Center for the Study of Oil Heritage is housed at Venango College of Clarion University in the Charles L. Suhr Library. The center was established in 2003 and features the late Barbara Harvey's extensive historical collection that includes nearly 400 books, various historical documents, and a trove of photographs, business ledgers, and other materials that she collected over the years, donated by her family: Joseph S. Harvey, Joseph S. Harvey Jr. (posthumous), Thomas M. Harvey, David G. Harvey and Judith A. Harvey.
Joe Harvey — a former Clarion University Trustee and a strong supporter of Venango College of Clarion University since its inception — and his children donated the collection to establish a center to offer scholars, students, and the community a place for discussion, study, and documentation of Pennsylvania's oil region. In addition, the Harvey family created an endowment to support ongoing educational activities at the center to bring that history to life.
As part of the endowment, a Barbara Morgan Harvey Annual Lecture, held each fall at Venango College, explores historical, geological, social, business, and other aspects of the region's growth and development. This year's featured speaker is Mr. Pete Gifford, published writer and college administrator, whose historical interest is in early railroads of Northwest Pennsylvania, especially the Atlantic and Great Western Railroad.
Mr. Gifford will discuss the early railroad history of Northwestern Pennsylvania from the 1850's through the 1870's on Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 7 p.m. in the Robert W. Rhoades Auditorium. His presentation will include the time of rapid construction of railroad lines into the oil region and the wide diversity of railroad gauges at the time, including the Erie Railroad War.
All of the above events are open to the public, and are offered free of charge.