Hershey Community Archives’ mission is to collect, preserve, and facilitate access to the records documenting the lives of Milton and Catherine Hershey and to promote the study and understanding of their vision and legacy as embodied in the businesses and communities they established.
On December 22, 1981 a task force, composed of representatives from the Hershey entities, met for the first time to lay out a plan of action concerning the preservation and use of the various materials of Hershey’s history. The task force members were Ken Bowers, Hershey Foods Corporation; J. Bruce McKinney, HERCO, Inc.; Dr. Richard Rudisill, Milton Hershey School; and Eliza Harrison, Hershey Museum. The initial conclusion of this group was that the historical records should be preserved and that there was a need for an archives that would be accessible, yet controllable.
After an initial delay, in 1984 The M.S. Hershey Foundation hired a team of archival and records management consultants to help establish a community-wide archival program under the general supervision of consultant Richmond D. Williams. Each of the Hershey entities agreed to support the archival project and to appoint corporate representatives to assist with the project’s start up. Under the guidance of the Foundation, the Archives was charged with collecting, processing, preserving, and making available for research essential historical materials of institutions in Hershey and Derry Township. Initially the project was to have two concurrent thrusts: 1) locate and transfer non-current archival records to the Community Archives and 2) the establishment of a records management system that would sustain the archival program in the future.
The Foundation hired Williams to coordinate the startup of the Archives. Pamela Cassidy Whitenack was hired as Assistant Archivist and began work in February 1985. With the assistance of the task force members archival records were identified and transferred to the Archives. In addition, presentations were made to various corporate divisions concerning archival records. The Oral History Program was launched in 1988, and has since become one of the Archives’ most significant programs.
Since those early beginnings the Archives has remained true to its mission to collect, preserve and make available the materials of Milton Hershey and his legacies. Over the years, the Archives has further developed its programs by increasing public research hours, conducting community outreach through public programs, exhibits, and articles in local publications and has acquired the records of community organizations and businesses. The Archives has also broadened its services to the corporate entities by providing in depth research to support corporate activities, providing timely access to critical archival materials, offering presentations and educational programming for staff, and representing the entities at public speaking events.