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Penn State Professor Helps Create New Centre County Online Encyclopedia

Ever wondered how Pugh Street got its name or how the State College Spikes has birthed 65 major league players? Fret no longer.

Launched last month, the Centre County Encyclopedia of History & Culture has information on all kinds of topics that call the Centre Region home. This project began more than 18 months ago and finally came to fruition following countless hours of editing, writing, and organizing.

“We want it to be an authoritative resource for Centre County, so when people have a question about any number of subjects, they will go there to get constantly updated information,” co-editor and Penn State professor Ford Risley said.

With the last Centre County Encyclopedia published on paper more than 100 years ago, it was time for an updated version. The site currently has listings for more than 100 topics on it, and even more are on the way.

“We wanted it to be a variety of things — about people, places, events, and groups. We wanted it to be about things that are important to the county history,” Risley said.

Risley and the rest of the team created the site using information dating back to the 17th century. They used a variety of resources to craft the articles, including source archives, old newspapers, and letters. While the process was long and exhaustive, the creators wanted to ensure the site has only honest and authoritative information.

Along with the traditional historical sources, the team also reached out to experts in the different subjects to get the best and most accurate information. These days, they’re looking for help figuring out what they should include next, too.

“Suggestions really matter,” Risley said. “We have gotten ideas from many different sources, including authors who have suggested articles.”

The encyclopedia also includes a “start a conversation” tab that lets people communicate with the site.

“We want it to be a community resource. We want to hear from readers,” Risley said. “We want it to be a conversation about Centre County.”

Creating and launching the encyclopedia was often a daunting task. Now across the finish line alongside his team, Risley says he’s stunned by how much he’s learned over the past year and change.

“I just learned so much about Centre County history,” he said. “I thought I knew a good deal, but I learned how much I don’t know.”

Interested in helping the encyclopedia grow? You can send their ideas and give feedback to the team by sending an email to [email protected]. As an ever-growing encyclopedia, it’s always looking for new writers to join the tea, too.

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About the Author

Alexandra Pepe

Alex is a sophomore from New Canaan, CT, pursuing the Master's of Accounting program and minoring in both journalism and entrepreneurship and innovation. She spends most of her free time with friends, watching "Curb Your Enthusiasm", or trying to figure out the buses. Her favorite things are getting breakfast sandwiches on a Sunday morning, listening to new music, and... writing for OS, of course! She can be reached through her email [email protected] or Twitter @aalexpepe.

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