Lila Fourhman-Shaull, history center guru and 'Google of York County,' dies at 59

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
Lila Fourhman-Shaull.

For those wanting to research their family or York County's history, Lila Fourhman-Shaull was the kind-hearted, curly-haired woman who could meet their every need.

The York County History Center's director of library and archives worked there for roughly 25 years. But the research guru died Saturday, Feb. 23, after a yearlong battle with an undisclosed illness. She was 59 years old.

"Everybody who met her was treated as a friend immediately," said center President Joan Mummert. "It was just her nature. She was a very giving person, she was very helpful, and she wanted people to get information about their family history or York County's history. She couldn't wait to share it with people."

Since 1992: Fourhman-Shaull began her tenure at the center when she was conducting her own research almost three decades ago. After opting to volunteer for the center, she was hired in 1992 as an assistant librarian before being promoted to director in 2005. 

She also was a well-versed writer and editor, having worked on multiple publications, including "Millers' Tales: The Mills of York County," which was published in 2010.

The York County native not only loved helping people, she loved the county itself, Mummert said.

"She loved her community, she loved this county," Mummert said. "She understood the community really well and appreciated all that the community is and was — and she wanted other people to share that knowledge." 

Lila Fourhman-Shaull, York County History Center director of Library & Archives, arranges books for the 17th annual Book Blast at the Agricultural and Industrial Museum Monday, Aug. 7, 2017. The book blast begins Thursday at 4 p.m. for center members, and is open to the public Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday features the Buck-a-Bag sales in which shoppers pay a dollar and can fill a bag with general category books. Bill Kalina photo

Knowledge: Ron Hershner, a member of the center's board of directors and an attorney for Stock and Leader in York City, called Fourhman-Shaull "the Google of York County," though she was very modest in the more than 20 years he knew her.

"She was incredible with her retention and the expansive knowledge of history and resources, particularly the collections," Hershner said. "Nobody's minute topic was boring to her."

Hershner recalled a moment when the director was helping him with his 2013 book "Letters From Home: York County Pennsylvania During The Civil War," which shed light on the war's home front through letters written to Union soldier Harvey Anderson.

When looking for photographs of Anderson's family, Hershner said, Fourhman-Shaull found several pictures of family members in a completely unrelated catalog within minutes — a feat he said he never could've done himself.

"She was always very pleasant and happy," he said. "She was very interested in what people were writing about. She was always very encouraging and wanting me to spend more time researching and writing. She was always a positive reinforcement."

'Enthusiasm': Scott Mingus, who moved to York in 2001 when he accepted a management position with Glatfelter, echoed Hershner's praise of the former director's endless help with research.

After moving to York, Mingus said he began researching the county's Civil War history — he has written 21 books — and Fourhman-Shaull soon became a vital, friendly resource.

"As I continued over the years to write more and more books, Lila was so very courteous, helpful and supportive throughout my efforts," Mingus said. "I will forever remember her warm smile, twinkling eyes and energetic enthusiasm."

Fourhman-Shaull's family opted for a private funeral, but the center will be hosting a celebration of life event Sunday, March 10, at its 250 E. Market St. location. More details will soon be announced.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.