Alta Schrock, Ph.D.

(1911 - 2002)



Dr. Alta Schrock, Ph.D., a lady with a strong creative spirit, has restored self esteem and introduced a better way of life for many people in Western Maryland, Pennsylvania and nearby West Virginia. Her initiatives have created jobs in an area depressed by high unemployment.

As a child, Dr. Schrock was very curious, and observed and recorded everything she could about the many plants and animals around her mountain home. Lacking a local high school and recognizing her thirst for learning, Dr. Schrock's family bought her an old typewriter and desk and she set up a learning laboratory in a small cabin.  At age seventeen, when a high school opened, Dr. Schrock entered as a freshman. Because of her extensive knowledge of the plants and animals of the Alleghanies, Dr. Schrock was awarded a college scholarship. Eating at the college dining hall was more than she could afford so each summer she would grow and can all of the food she would need. She spent fifteen cents a week for a head of lettuce and a loaf of day old bread. Dr. Schrock was the first Mennonite woman in the United States to receive her doctoral degree.

In 1957, Dr. Schrock left her teaching position at Goshen College in Indiana to return home. In an effort to promote mountain culture and heritage, she founded the Springs Historical Society, the Springs Folk Festival, and the Springs Museum. The next year, she opened the Penn Alps Restaurant and Craft Shop where thousands of folkartists have sold their wares. Nearby, are four original log cabins used as studios for local carvers, weavers, potters, and basket makers.  Also in the area, tourists can visit a working grist mill and furniture factory which Dr. Schrock opened to train and employ local people.

Dr. Shrock has also founded The Highland Association and community center, Head Start programs, and Meals on Wheels. She oversees the publishing of several journals about life in the mountains.

Dr. Schrock shows no signs of slowing down. She remains as active as when she first returned to Maryland. Perhaps her daily workout on the trampoline helps her balance the ups and downs of life.


© Copyright Maryland State Archives, 2001