Downtown Wilkes-Barre Ghost Walks

The Annual Downtown Wilkes-Barre Ghost Walks will be returning again this year on October 17th, 18th, 24th, and 25th. Come join us for a walking tour of the downtown historic district and learn about totally true ghost stories, murders, and lost graveyards, all right here in the Diamond City! Stops include Public Square, the site of the former Sterling Hotel, and the only known place where Romans walked right here in Wilkes-Barre.

All tours start in front of our Museum at 69 South Franklin Street at 7pm and last approximately 2 hours. We advise you to dress warmly and wear comfortable walking shoes.

Tours are limited to the first 30 reservations; to make reservations or for more information call us at (570)823-6244 x 3. You may also email


Afternoons of Colonial Hospitality at the Nathan Denison House, December 6th and 7th

Join the “Denison family” and neighbors for two afternoons of colonial hospitality and take a guided tour of the house from the men and women who live there! Enjoy period correct music and demonstrations, have food and drink, sing hymns, and see first-hand how life in the 1790s was.

Tours are Saturday December 6th and Sunday December 7th from 1-5pm each day. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children 12 and under. All attendees receive a coupon for $1 off admission to the Swetland Homestead Christmas Tours going on the same weekend.


Christmas During 1864 at the Swetland Homestead

See how Christmas was celebrated during the latter stages of the Civil War. Join the 143rd PA Regiment re-enactors as Luzerne County’s local Civil War unit, and costumed guides as members of the Swetland family. Tour the house and learn how union forces would establish field hospitals in family homes, and how both soldiers and civilians alike coped with and celebrated Christmas during our nation’s greatest crisis.

Tours are 5-8pm on December 4th and 5th, 1-5pm and 6-8pm on December 6th, and 1-5pm on December 7th. Admission is $6 for adults, $4 for children 6-12, and free for children 5 and under. All guests receive a coupon for $1 off admission to the Afternoons of Colonial Hospitality at the Denison House going on the same weekend.

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 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.