Patricia Wallen Cummins, former Director of the Mahoning Valley Historical Society and a life member, passed away on March 4 of this year. Pat Cummins was a native of Haddonfield, New Jersey, and first came to Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley with her husband, Alden, after their marriage in 1948.
Pat joined the MVHS staff as Assistant Director in 1971. She and then-Director Harriet Wick Schaff developed professional practices in collections management and educational programs, and raised the operational standards for the Historical Society. Their efforts led to MVHS and the Arms Family Museum being accredited by the American Alliance of Museums in 1977. That same year, and after the untimely passing of Harriet Schaff, the MVHS Board appointed Pat as Director.
She continued to improve the professional standards and facilities of MVHS with the support of the MVHS Board. In 1981 the Historical Society launched its first capital fundraising campaign and successfully raised funds to renovate and adapt the Carriage House behind the Arms Family Museum to be the MVHS Archival Library, opening in 1984. She led a review process resulting in re-accreditation by AAM in 1990. And she spearheaded another campaign for funds to renovate and improve the second floor and basement level exhibit galleries in the Museum from 1987 to 1990. She served the larger profession as a Board member and then President (1989-1990) of the Ohio Local History Alliance.
After her retirement in October 1991, Pat continued to work in public history with research for clubs to which she belonged and as a volunteer curator for the Mill Creek Park Museum in the Davis Garden Center at Fellows Riverside Garden. She always approached her work with conviction, passion, and a great sense of humor, and was a role model and friend to some up-and-coming public historians, including this writer.
The MVHS Board of Directors has established an educational internship stipend fund in Pat’s memory to assist future aspiring museum and public history professionals. Contributions can be made payable to the Mahoning Valley Historical Society by mail to 648 Wick Ave., Youngstown, OH 44502, or via Pay Pal.