Hershey Community Archives: Chocolate and Roller Coasters
By Tammy L. Hamilton, Archivist
The staff at the Hershey Community Archives, the historical records repository for The Hershey Company and Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Company, has the pleasure of spending a lot of time thinking about chocolate and roller coasters. Hershey Community Archives’ mission is to preserve and document the legacies of Hershey, Pennsylvania’s founders, Milton S. Hershey and his wife Catherine. Hershey confectionery products and the community of Hershey, with its amusement park and resort hotels, are the most visible of these legacies.
On December 22, 1981, a task force, composed of representatives from what is collectively known as the Hershey Entities, (The Hershey Company, Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Company, Milton Hershey School, and The M.S. Hershey Foundation) met for the first time to discuss the preservation and use of the materials documenting Hershey's history. The task force determined an archives should be founded as part of the non-profit M.S. Hershey Foundation and preserve and document the records of the Hershey Entities and the community as a whole. After an initial delay, the Archives began operating in February 1985.
The Archives’ holdings are composed of over 6,000 cubic feet of records that includes over 20,000 photographs, 7,000 maps and architectural drawings, and 2,000 moving image items. An oral history program was launched in 1988, and has since become one of the Archives’ most significant programs with over 550 oral histories in total. Many of the interview transcripts are available online.
Over the years, the Archives has developed its programs by increasing public research hours, conducting community outreach through public programs, exhibits, and articles in local publications. The Archives also acquires the records of community organizations and businesses to enhance our community resources and provide groups with rotating leadership a place to centralize and better care for their records.
The Hershey Entities value their corporate history and use historic resources to communicate with the public. The Archives has 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.
To mark Hershey Community Archives’ 30th anniversary, the staff will highlight 30 items from the collections on our blog. In addition, the Archives will offer a number of classes to help community members care for their own personal records, both paper and digital.