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Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum

“It’ll Take an Army” Franco’s Italian Army Fifty Years Later

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Making History Blog

Wait For It: Hamilton in Pittsburgh

  Alexander Hamilton. Courtesy of the Library of Congress. The last time Hamilton came to Pittsburgh, he wasn’t quite as popular. In fact, he was arguably one of the most hated men in Western Pennsylvania in the late 1700s, thanks to his liquor tax that sparked the Whiskey Rebellion. As Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit Broadway musical…

The History and Legacy of the Freedom House

  Freedom House Ambulance Service first day, Presbyterian University Hospital, Pittsburgh, c. June 16, 1968. Gift of Virginia “Ginny” Caligiuri. A white paper report in 1966, “Accidental Death and Disability: The Neglected Disease of Modern Society,” documented the lack of emergency medical care and health disparities across the U.S. It found that African Americans had…

Book Review: “The Mount Washington Transit Tunnel Disaster”

  The Mount Washington Transit Tunnel Disaster By Mary Jane Kuffner Hirt The History Press, 2021 192 pages, 60 photos and maps Paperback, $21.99 Reviewed by Mark Holan, Pittsburgh native and editorial director of the American Road and Transportation Builders Association in Washington, DC. Two dozen people were killed December 24, 1917, when a Pittsburgh…

Book Review: “An Alternative History of Pittsburgh”

  An Alternative History of Pittsburgh By Ed Simon Belt Publishing, 2021 176 pages Paperback, $16.95 Reviewed by Leslie Przybylek, Senior Curator, Heinz History Center In literary tradition, an “alternative history” is speculative fiction based on the historical past but diverted into a contrasting trajectory by changing events at a critical point in the narrative.…

Book Review: “Andy, Can You Hear Us? Communing with Andy Warhol at His Gravesite – Vol. 1 (Winter)”

  Andy, Can You Hear Us? Communing with Andy Warhol at His Gravesite – Vol. 1 (Winter) By Madelyn Roehrig Andy’s Figments, 2020 80 pages, color photos Softcover, $39.99 Reviewed by Eric Lidji, Director, Rauh Jewish History Program & Archives, Heinz History Center The novelist Cynthia Ozick once made a distinction between travelers and pilgrims.…

Book Review: “A Gift of Belief: Philanthropy and the Forging of Pittsburgh”

  A Gift of Belief: Philanthropy and the Forging of Pittsburgh Edited by Kathleen W. Buechel University of Pittsburgh Press, 2021 384 pages Hardcover, $40 Reviewed by Betty Arenth, former senior vice president of the Heinz History Center Few scholars’ lives achieve the nexus of theory and practice as perfectly as Kathy Beuchel who served…

Book Review: “Banished from Johnstown: Racist Backlash in Pennsylvania”

  Banished From Johnstown: Racist Backlash in Pennsylvania By Cody McDevitt History Press, 2020 224 pages Paperback, $23.99 Reviewed by Samuel W. Black, Director, African American Program, Heinz History Center Nearly 100 years ago in 1923, Johnstown ordered the expulsion of African and Mexican Americans from its city limits. The caveat was that Johnstown’s Mayor…

Book Review: “Smalltime: A Story of My Family and the Mob”

  Smalltime: A Story of My Family and the Mob By Russell Shorto W.W. Norton, 2021 272 pages Hardcover, $26.95 Reviewed by Bill Keyes, former museum division director at the History Center, 1994–1999. Russell Shorto, the American historian known for his groundbreaking history of early New York, The Island at the Center of the World,…

Fred Lenn: The Battling Boxer

  Fred Lenn fought in two arenas—as a Marine serving during World War II and Korea, and in the ring as a champion amateur and professional boxer. The second of nine children born to Polish immigrant parents in 1914, Lenn grew up on Pittsburgh’s South Side. Christened Walter Frederick Lenkowski at St. Stanislaus Polish Catholic…

Have Fun but Remember the War: Halloween during World War II

  With the History Center’s traveling exhibit “We Can Do It: WWII” returning to Barensfeld Gallery, it seemed a good time to celebrate the upcoming Halloween holiday by looking back on how this haunting season was experienced during World War II. In fact, Halloween in the war years laid the groundwork for what the holiday became during the Baby Boom.  Pranks Discouraged  Excerpt from the Halloween pledge…