Fall Festival at the Swetland Homestead

LCHS will host its inaugural Fall Festival on Saturday, October 11th, 1pm – 4pm, on the grounds of the Swetland Homestead. A family-friendly event, the Festival will feature a chicken BBQ dinner by Silaveri’s Catering, a bake sale, Civil War encampment featuring the 143rd PA Volunteer Infantry Regiment, historic tours of the Swetland Homestead throughout the day, Colonial and Victorian games for children on the lawn, as well as the opportunity to bake your favorite homemade pie and enter it to be judged in our Pie Contest. The Festival will also include awards to honor our volunteers, and a Hat Contest (awards for Largest/Most Extravagant Hat, Prettiest Hat, Closest to the Theme: Fall Foliage).

All activities are included in the one ticket price of $10 for Members, $15 for non-Members. One child under 10 admitted free for each accompanying adult ticket purchased. Come enjoy a delicious chicken dinner with all the fixings, learn how Union soldiers camped, marched and drilled, and see how inhabitants of the Wyoming Valley lived and entertained themselves, all while enjoying the fall foliage of the Swetland grounds!

For tickets or more information, stop at our Museum or Library during open hours, or call us at (570)823-6244 x 3. You may also email reservations@luzernehistory.org.

New Exhibits!

The Luzerne County Historical Society announces the opening of two new exhibits at the Museum: Germans in Luzerne County and “The Bride Wore”—Wedding Gowns of Wyoming Valley. The first exhibit focuses on the German people of Luzerne County. The exhibit explores the history, culture and contributions of the German immigrants who settled in Luzerne County in the 19th century. Historic artifacts, photographs, music, printed materials and ethnic clothing are among the items featured in the exhibit. This exhibition continues the series of exhibits focusing on the ethnic groups which contribute to the rich cultural heritage of Luzerne County. Previous exhibits in the series focused on the Welsh, Slovaks, Jews, African Americans, the Irish and the Poles.

The second exhibit features wedding gowns from the Society’s collection. The Society houses a large collection of wedding dresses and accessories, and 25 gowns will be on display. A small exhibit on the theme at the Society’s Swetland Homestead in 2007 was very well received and there have been many requests to display and interpret more of the collection in the larger space of the Museum.

The Museum is open Tuesday through Friday from noon to 2:00 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 4:00 p.m. Admission is $4.00. The exhibits will remain on display through January 31, 2015.

Wedding Gown

Wedding Gown

St. Conrad's Society, c. 1910

St. Conrad's Society, c. 1910


A $5 donation to the Historical Society gets you discounts at Boscov’s!

From now until October 21st, if you stop in our Research Library or Museum and make a $5 donation, you will receive a Discount Shopping Pass for Boscov’s for up to 25% off purchases, plus eligibility for door prizes! This is made possible by Boscov’s Friends Helping Friends, and the entire donation benefits the Historical Society!

The Shopping Pass can only be used on Tuesday, October 21st, 2014; all limitations to the discounts are listed on the pass.


Starting September 23, 2014, parts of our microfilm collection of newspapers will be unavailable for research at times due to a digitization project. The newspapers being digitized will be unavailable both to the public and to staff for 1-2 months at a time. Any research requests received by mail for obituaries or other articles needing those particular newspapers will be held by staff and the research will be performed once the microfilm is returned.

We have been given this opportunity – at no cost to the Historical Society – by Newspapers.com to have our microfilm digitized and be made more widely available through their website.

Other local organizations that hold county newspapers on microfilm or have computer access to newspapers online are the Northeast Pennsylvania Genealogical Society in Hanover Township, and the Luzerne County Library System – check with your local public library to see what format they have available (example: Osterhout Free Library, West Pittston Public Library).

This announcement will be updated with the newspapers that are currently out. The first newspapers to be sent will be our holdings of the Wilkes-Barre Record, 1872-1949. Other newspapers that cover these years will still be available, such as the Wilkes-Barre Leader and the Pittston Gazette. If you have any questions, please contact our Library at (570)823-6244 x 2.


Check out our “What’s New” page for more details on our exhibits, as well as upcoming events.

Information about our upcoming events can also be found on our Facebook page!

The Historical Society Museum is currently open 12PM - 2PM Tuesday-Friday and 12PM – 4PM most Saturdays.
(Please call during the week to see if the Museum will be open on Saturday, as we are a bit short-staffed for the time being. We apologize for this inconvenience.)

Our Research Library is open  Tuesday-Friday 12PM-4PM and Saturday 10AM-4PM.

We are closed holiday weekends (unless otherwise noted) and for the month of February.

Luzerne County Historical Society Membership Form is now available online.
Download and print a copy.

About the Luzerne County Historical Society

First President of LCHS

Edmund Lovell Dana

On February 11, 1858, a group met at the Old Fell Tavern in Wilkes-Barre to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the first known successful burning of anthracite coal in an open grate by Judge Jesse Fell.  During the ceremony, General E. L. Dana suggested the founding of a historical society.  A resolution was passed unanimously, and the Wyoming Historical and Geological Society was incorporated in May of 1858.

By 1877, the Society had acquired rooms in the Old Fellows Hall and was able to open its collection to the public on Friday evenings.  It later added a meeting room and library, and memberships and donations increased.

Isaac Smith

Isaac Osterhout

In 1882, Isaac Osterhout directed that space for the Society be included in the free library that was to be established under his will.  The Osterhout Free Library trustees voted to erect a separate building behind the library to house the collections of the Society.  The money was appropriated, and the building opened in 1893.

With the acquisition of the Swetland Homestead in 1958 and the Bishop Library in 1971, the Wyoming Historical and Geological Society reached its present stature.

The Society maintains the storehouse for the collective memory of Luzerne County and its environs.  It records and interprets the history, traditions, events, people, and cultures that have directed and molded life within the region.

Our mission is to preserve and promote the collective history and heritage of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.