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.
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.