In February of 1980, Michael Ripton, Director of the Bureau of Historic Sites and Properties of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC), met at the Cashier’s House in Erie with those interested in preserving and promoting the Niagara. At that meeting it was decided to have Pat Liephart, Director of PHMC’s Fort LeBoeuf Museum in Waterford, conduct a survey of historic sites and museums in the Erie County.
Members of ten organizations met at Mercyhurst College in April with a committee from Leadership Erie, a local development program, who volunteered to coordinate the formation of a consortium of local history groups. (At that time, Leadership Erie also provided 10,000 brochures for the promotion of local historic sites and museums.)
Historical societies, museums, cultural and recreation groups and local history research programs were invited to the next meeting. The objectives were to (1) develop purpose for a historical consortium; (2) select an organizational structure; (3) agree upon programs; and (4) decide upon a plan of action.
At following meetings it was decided to rotate monthly meetings at different sites around the county. Pat Leiphart was chosen as Acting Recording Secretary and Leadership Erie withdrew from active participation. Charles Watkins of the Erie Historical Museum (Watson-Curtze Mansion) was named temporary coordinator or chairman.
In the fall, at a meeting held at the Eagle Hotel in Waterford, the official name of Erie Yesterday was chosen. The next task was to research and draft by-laws for the new organization. Dr. Carl Frank from the Center for Local History at Edinboro State College replaced Pat Leiphart as Recording Secretary.
After discussion at a March 25, 1981 meeting, by-laws were formally adopted. As stated in these by-laws, the PURPOSE of Erie Yesterday is
- to promote awareness of the History and Heritage of Erie County;
- promote Erie County Historic Sites and Museums;
- provide a unified voice for expanding and improving liaison/communications with government units;
- provide coordination for public relations and;
- serve as a clearing house of each members organization’s programs.
Erie Yesterday was chartered by the State of Pennsylvania on March 25, 1981. The following were CHARTER MEMBERS: Center for Local History, Erie Tours/Heritage Trails, Fairview Area Historical Society, Fort LeBoeuf Historical Society, Fort LeBoeuf Museum (PHMC), Lake Shore Railway Historical Society, Union City Historical Society, Erie County Historical Society, Erie Historical Museum, Fire Fighter’s Museum, Hazel Kibler Museum, Preservation Project, and the Field School of Archaeology of Edinboro State College. Members joining at later dates were: Corry Historical Society, The Historic Preservation Division of Community Affairs and the Erie Society for Genealogical Research.