Scholarship helps foster professional collaboration

Penn State Harrisburg graduate Oscar Beisert, ’07 master’s in American studies, received the Irwin Richman Scholarship in American Studies during the 2006-07 academic year, but the reward he received went beyond just a monetary supplement – it helped him advance his career in the years to follow. The experience helped the student form a working relationship with Dr. Irwin Richman himself, a professor emeritus of American studies and history and, along with his wife Dr. M. Susan Richman, associate professor emerita of mathematical sciences, a donor to the college.  

One result of Beisert and Richman’s collaboration became a book, The Photography of Henry K. Landis: Pennsylvania and New York, 1886-1955 (Stackpole Books, 2013), which documents a little-known photographic legacy. Landis (1865-1955), born and raised in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, was an engineer, magazine editor, and co-founder, with his brother, George, of the Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum, an institution “dedicated to collecting, preserving, and interpreting” Pennsylvania German (Pennsylvania Dutch) history and culture. Through Landis's lens the book explores late 19th and early 20th century New York City, Long Island, and Lancaster County.

“You not only shared your knowledge and your passion, you took a chance on an unknown,” Beisert wrote about Richman in the book’s preface.

Beisert, an active preservationist, building restorer, and blogger, is on the professional staff of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). He divides his time between Philadelphia and Washington D.C.

Richman, of Bainbridge, Pa., the author of many books, retired from Penn State Harrisburg in 2003 and currently serves as a research associate at the Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum, where he has volunteered since 2004.