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McKean County Historical Society History

Started in 1902, the McKean County Historical Society, is a volunteer organization dedicated to preserving and sharing the history of McKean County, its industries and people. With the donation of Senator Lewis Emery's collection in 1924, a museum was started on the first floor of the Carnegie Library in Bradford, PA. In 1938, the Society accepted office space in the courthouse offered to them by the County Commissioners.  In 1942 the museum was moved to the courthouse basement. In 1976, motivated by America's Bicentennial Celebration, the Society completely renovated the museum - which won the 1977 Albert Corey Award. In 1998, the County Commissioners offered the Society use of the old jail building, which had been unoccupied since 1990. The Society accepted the challenge, started raising funds and began renovations in 1999. By 2003 enough of the old jail building had been renovated to allow the museum to move out of the courthouse basement and the “Old Jail Museum” was born. This building serves as the anchor for the Society and is an educational institution to house and share our communities’ stories.


The Society also provides monthly cultural and humanities programs. They include history walks, bus trips, displays, speaker programs, reenactments, dinner theaters, and festivals. The variety of program formats keep the Society from being dull, and are a reflection of the creativity of the volunteers we have.


Why We Are Important

Knowing one's culture/history/heritage keeps us united and connected to our traditions. It provides insight on where we come from and provides a foundation upon which to build our future on, whether that future is for an individual, a family or a community.

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