What’s Happening at HSDC?


We wish to acknowledge and thank our “Deck the Halls” sponsors, donors, and volunteers for a successful fundraiser. Below is a listing of those institutions, companies, and individuals, who along with members of the Historical Society, helped us to assure that we can continue to maintain the Harris-Cameron Mansion, our research library, and our programming in the coming year. Thank you, and a happy holiday season to everyone reading this!

See photos of the event at here on Facebook.


M&T Bank



Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, LLC

Carmen and Tonia Finestra

The Hall Foundation


Boyer & Riter, LLC

Cordier Auctions

Enginuity, LLC

RSR Realtors

David W. Volkman


Bill and Marion Alexander

Michael and Jane Barton

The Garden Path

Managing Partners Insurance

Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency

Strawberry Square


The Vineyard and Brewery at Hershey


Midstate Distillery


Gent’s Night Out Barbershop Quartet


Lamar Advertising Company of Harrisburg


Adventure Sports

Agia Sophia Coffee and Books

Allegro con Fuoco Piano Duo

Carlisle Sports Emporium

Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet

Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre

Fort Hunter Park and Mansion

Peggy Gekas

Kari Hultman, Hultman Leather

Harrisburg Senators

Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra

Hershey Gardens

The Hershey Story

Hilton Harrisburg

Ruthann Hubbert Kemper

The JDK Group

Juniata General Store

Joseph A. Macri

Outside the Box Escape Room

Paintings by Erna

Sandra K. Prahl

Pride of the Susquehanna Riverboat

John and Susanne Robinson

Lynn Taylor, Kingston Pottery

Christine Turner

Jim and Karen Turner


Bill and Marion Alexander

Michael and Jane Barton

David Bronstein, D.O.

Anne Davis

Doug Dyer

Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, LLC

Erik and Danielle Fasick

Carmen and Tonia Finestra

Walter and Trish Foulkrod

Becky and James Franklin

Marcia B. Gobrecht

Phil Guarneschelli

The Hall Foundation

Ruthann Hubbert Kemper

Cathy Lotwick

M&T Bank

Todd and Linda Milano

Sandra K. Prahl

John K. Robinson

William F. and Susannah M. Rothman

Alyce and Morton Spector

Robin and Jeb Stewart

UPMC Pinnacle


Marcia B. Gobrecht

Ruthann Hubbert Kemper

Cathy Lotwick

Tammy McClenaghan

John K. Robinson

Sandra K. Prahl, decorations

Ernest Kepner, White House tree


Did you know we have a Museum Store with publications, maps, posters, note cards, and more? Stop in our office building during regular hours and see what is perhaps the area’s best selection of local history books. You may just find the perfect gift for holiday giving! To order many of our products online, look here

Our major exhibit “Uncle Sam Calls: Dauphin County in World War I” is open through December 22 and features more than 50 original World War I posters and related documents, photos, and artifacts, all in observance of the 100th anniversary of the US entry into the Great War in 1917. Don’t miss your chance to see this exciting collection before the end of the year. It may be a generation until it is assembled again!

Read our Annual Report (July 1, 2016-June 30, 2017) and minutes of our Annual Meeting.


The Historical Society of Dauphin County (HSDC) was founded in 1869 at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the capital city of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Early programs and displays were offered in the 1860 County Courthouse. In 1906, a prominent Harrisburg family donated its Front Street home to the Society as its headquarters. Here the Society remained until 1941, when the heirs of 19th century businessman and politician Simon Cameron gave to the Society their home, built by early settler John Harris, one of the city’s founders.

The mission of the HSDC is to collect, preserve, exhibit, publish, and promote interest in the history of Dauphin County for the education, enjoyment, and benefit of the public.

John Harris-Simon Cameron Mansion

The GeMansion todayorgian-style vernacular stone house was built c. 1766 by John Harris, Jr., whose father was an early settler in the region. Both father and son were tavern-keepers, traders, and ferry operators. The house passed out of the Harris family in the early 19th century, when it served as a home for a distinguished citizen of the city and later has the Pennsylvania Female College. In 1863, Simon Cameron, Lincoln’s first Secretary of War and former Ambassador to Russia, purchased the house and transformed it into the Victorian home we see today. The house is a National Historic Landmark and is used for public and private events, programs, tours, and exhibitions of collections (which number approximately 15,000 items). In recent years nearly $500,000 has been raised and expended on extensive exterior (and some interior) restoration. In 2016 the 250th anniversary of the house was celebrated through numerous programs and events centering on the settlement known as Harris’ Ferry.

Alexander Family Research Library

office-and-library-hsdcThe library, housed with the archives in an adapted 1890 brick stable built by Gen. Simon Cameron adjacent to the mansion, contains 3,700 books on local history and genealogical data related to Dauphin County. All sorts of encyclopedias, community histories, genealogies, church, marriage, and death information are found here, as well as Civil War regimental histories, and books relating to Native Americans, transportation history, and local buildings and businesses. Recently, a growing collection of high school and other yearbooks has garnered a lot of interest from library patrons seeking to learn more about their families.The library is open to members and the general public four afternoons a week and two Sundays a month. Members are admitted free; others pay a modest fee.

Archives Collection

antique documentThe archives, growing for over 130 years, contains 20,000 items in collections of historical records of individuals and families, businesses, agencies, organizations, institutions, schools, churches, military units, and other entities located in Dauphin County. The photo archives contains more than one million images dating from the 1850s to the present, including collections from prominent families and photographers, and the Allied Pix newspaper collection of 1952-1994. The archives is overseen by the curator of archives and collections.

The HSDC publishes a quarterly newsletter, The Oracle. It maintains this newly-designed website, still a work in progress. It makes use of social media such as Facebook and Constant Contact and looks to expand further. It has a number of printed items and photos for sale through its website, including a monumental tome, Building Harrisburg: The Architects and Builders, 1719-1941, by the staff librarian.

For upcoming programs and events, please see here, contact us at 717-233-3462, or email office@dauphincountyhistory.org.