History Network looks ahead

In keeping with the beginning of community meeting season, attendees at last night’s Northeast Philadelphia History Network meeting discussed ways to freshen up the network and carry it into the future.

The group, which in March, separated from the Historical Society of Frankford amidst Jack McCarthy’s resignation as archivist of the Frankford group, met in Rhawnhurst’s Pelbano Rec Center to share thoughts about where to take the NEPHN.

“[The network] is still defining itself,” said Lou Iatarola, who spearheads Tacony history research and serves with the Tacony Civic Association. “To me, it’s a very rewarding group on a number of levels.”

NEPHN members review Civil War-era maps of our region.
(NEPHN members review Civil War-era maps of our region.)

The Network trustees opened a discussion surrounding how to best tailor the monthly meetings. In short, should they maintain the platform of informal conversations, or be more structured with specific topics that might appeal to the general public?

“We’re not a real organization,” said Fred Moore, Holmesburg historian and president of the Holmesburg Civic Association, of the NEPHN’s non-incorporated status.

Moore weighed the benefits of having no one to answer to versus the disadvantage of having no storage space for artifacts.

Though nothing official was decided at last night’s two-hour meeting, the 20-some attendees agreed not to host a repository for historical things, but rather act as a conduit. Should someone come to the Network looking for a place to donate or store an artifact, NEPHN will refer that person to the appropriate neighborhood historical society — many of which send representatives to the NEPHN meetings.

While the Network is focused on exploring, celebrating and preserving Northeast history, its members want to ensure the organization has a sustainable future.

“I’ve been learning, having fun and sharing things,” said Network leader Bruce Conner, who said he hope others can do the same.

The group will next meet Oct. 13, perhaps in a larger room at Pelbano to accommodate the growing number of attendees.

“Twenty years ago, you might not have seen that,” Iatarola said of the attendance rate and general interest in Northeast history. “After every meeting, I think someone comes away with something they didn’t know.”

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