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Spring 2024 PA Dutch Class Registration is Open

940 Centre Ave, Reading, PA 19601 | (610) 375-4375 
Hours: Wednesday – Saturday 9am – 3pm

940 Centre Ave, Reading, PA 19601
(610) 375-4375 
Hours: Wednesday – Saturday 9am – 3pm

About

Overview

Calling all history buffs! Learn about our community’s unique story by visiting the Berks History Center, a museum and research library dedicated to preserving and sharing Berks County’s rich cultural heritage. We showcase local history through artifacts and documents, educational programs, workshops and community events, including our annual Road Ramble event and our new PA Dutch classes.

History

In July 1869, a call was made for interested citizens to gather “for the purpose of collecting and perpetuating the historical reminisces of Berks County.” Following the first meeting in August, the Historical Society of Berks County (now the Berks History Center) was incorporated on December 13, 1869. The first president was the Honorable William M. Hiester. After a period of stagnation, President Albert G. Green revived the Society in 1898. Meetings were held in the Exchange Building located on North 6th Street in Reading, PA. The first female member was Kate E. Hawley, wife of the Reading Eagle newspaper founder Jesse G. Hawley, a charter member.

 
The Berks History Center first started collecting objects in June, 1898. The organization’s first building, purchased in June 1904 from the Reading Gas Company, was located at 519 Court Street. At that time, membership was 150. Less than ten years later, the burgeoning Historical Society needed a larger building, and J. Bennett Nolan led the search for a new location. In the summer of 1928 the cornerstone was laid for The Historical Society of Berks County, and construction was completed the following year. Made of concrete and brick, the new building was designed to be a fireproof structure to house the county’s precious collections and archives. The facility was dedicated on October 1, 1929 and is still home to the Berks History Center today. Needing more office, display, and storage space, the Historical Society embarked on a fundraising campaign in the 1980s. The addition was opened in 1988, providing the library with its own dedicated archival storage and research space. In 2005, again faced with the need for more storage, the Historical Society purchased the former M&T Bank building, located directly behind the Berks History Center at 160 Spring Street.  In 2008, after undergoing major renovations, the Henry Janssen Library opened to the public serving as the BHC’s premier research facility.
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Mission Statement

The Berks History Center leads the way in telling the unique story of Berks County and its diverse people,  with the aim of building an inclusive understanding of our impact on national history, strengthening our  community, and inspiring all audiences now and in the future.

Vision

Values

Integrity

As stewards of Berks County history, we believe in transparency, authenticity, and sustainability. We are dedicated to integrity, both in the accuracy of our interpretation as well as our collections care. We honor our obligation to care for our collections in accordance with museum and archival best practices and we prioritize financial sustainability for the long term stewardship of our current and future collections and the communities that we serve.

Connection

People are our number one priority and our community informs the work we do. We believe that connection makes us stronger. Through collaboration and partnership, we strengthen our impact as well as the community we serve. We are open to sharing resources and ideas with others, fostering meaningful connections to the past and present, and building opportunities to create synergies and dynamic outcomes.

Discovery

We embrace our passion for learning and are fueled by the magic of discovery. We constantly strive to create unforgettable educational experiences for those of all ages and abilities.

INNOVATION + ADAPTATION

We listen, learn, and innovate; always encouraging feedback and adapting to the ever changing social and economic landscape around us while continuing to celebrate the expansive traditions of our past. We know that knowledge is power. As both learners and educators, our team is fully equipped to educate others while continually growing knowledge of Berks County history and the methods of sharing it.

EXCELLENCE

The BHC is as enthusiastic about providing world class service to those we serve, as we are about protecting and preserving the historical legacies entrusted to our care. We believe that excellence is the result of proactive leadership, creativity, and courageous action.

Accessibility

As a leading cultural institution in our community, we have an unwavering commitment to accessibility and inclusion of all ages, cultures, and abilities. We hold ourselves accountable to the people that we serve and seek to honor both the past and future generations in everything we do.

Integrity

As stewards of Berks County history, we believe in transparency, authenticity, and sustainability. We are dedicated to integrity, both in the accuracy of our interpretation as well as our collections care. We honor our obligation to care for our collections in accordance with museum and archival best practices and we prioritize financial sustainability for the long term stewardship of our current and future collections and the communities that we serve.

Connection

People are our number one priority and our community informs the work we do. We believe that connection makes us stronger. Through collaboration and partnership, we strengthen our impact as well as the community we serve. We are open to sharing resources and ideas with others, fostering meaningful connections to the past and present, and building opportunities to create synergies and dynamic outcomes.

Discovery

We embrace our passion for learning and are fueled by the magic of discovery. We constantly strive to create unforgettable educational experiences for those of all ages and abilities.

INNOVATION + ADAPTATION

We listen, learn, and innovate; always encouraging feedback and adapting to the ever changing social and economic landscape around us while continuing to celebrate the expansive traditions of our past. We know that knowledge is power. As both learners and educators, our team is fully equipped to educate others while continually growing knowledge of Berks County history and the methods of sharing it.

EXCELLENCE

The BHC is as enthusiastic about providing world class service to those we serve, as we are about protecting and preserving the historical legacies entrusted to our care. We believe that excellence is the result of proactive leadership, creativity, and courageous action.

Accessibility

As a leading cultural institution in our community, we have an unwavering commitment to accessibility and inclusion of all ages, cultures, and abilities. We hold ourselves accountable to the people that we serve and seek to honor both the past and future generations in everything we do.