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Pittsburgh’s John Kane: Coming to America

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Ralph Kruck: Dreaming Up the Future of Industrial Design

Looking back to the 1930s and the start of a decades-long career in industrial design, Ralph Kruck recalled a profession mired in tradition and resistant to innovation.

Samuel A. Musgrave: Industrial Photographer for Hire

  Samuel Musgrave portrait, 1952 Working behind the scenes for many of Pittsburgh’s leading companies, Samuel A. Musgrave captured an extensive visual record of Western Pennsylvania’s postwar economy.  As a freelance industrial photographer, Musgrave spent five decades taking promotional images in factories, showrooms, and storefronts across the region. His clients included household names like Alcoa,…

Rev. LeRoy Patrick: Advocate for Equality

After arriving in Pittsburgh in 1951, Rev. LeRoy Patrick dove headfirst into the fight to integrate the city’s public swimming pools. Though Blacks were not prevented by law from using any city pool, a culture of de facto segregation, enforced by intimidation and outright violence by whites, prohibited them from using certain locations. In Pittsburgh’s…

Matzah, Made in Pittsburgh

  A photograph from the April 24, 1929 edition of the Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph, showing Radbord and a team of baker packing matzah for Passover deliveries throughout Western Pennsylvania. If you bought a box of matzah for Passover this year, it probably came from the grocery store. And the grocery store probably got it from a…

Moishe Oysher: A Legend Comes to Pittsburgh

Like many cities in the Western Hemisphere, the Jewish population of Pittsburgh enjoyed the Yiddish theatre tradition. Theaters throughout the city were hosting Yiddish productions by the late 1800s, and Pittsburgh was one of the few American cities outside New York with a theater dedicated entirely to Yiddish productions. The popularity of the art form…

The Story of a Box of Candles: “A Beautiful Gift of Memory”

In the Chanukah display of the A Very Merry Pittsburgh experience at the Heinz History Center is a box of candles with 120 years of history. The box itself is unremarkable, but a sticker pasted on its backside offers this intriguing note: “These Chanuko Candles are Presented in Loving Memory of Abraham Lippman, President of…

Why Tell Your Story? A Reflection on October 27

  The following was first published in the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle. While browsing the website of a local bookstore this summer, I found a horrifying and frustrating book published in 1987 by Holocaust survivor and Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal. It’s called “Every Day Remembrance Day,” and it takes the form of a calendar. For each…

A Life, in Art: Shelly Blumenfeld

  “Mother’s Day on Logan Street,” by Rochelle Blumenfeld. Courtesy of Rochelle Blumenfeld. “Mother’s Day on Logan Street” tells three Pittsburgh stories. The first is the story of a childhood in the Lower Hill District. The second is the story of an artistic apprenticeship in a distinctly Jewish setting. The third is the story of…

Celebrating the Americans with Disabilities Act: Paul Dick

  Paul posing with his siblings in the summer of 1954 alongside a road. Left to right: Paul, Alan, Glen, Mary Ellen, and George Dick. Holly and Paul Dick Family Papers and Photographs, MSS 1177, Detre Library & Archives at the History Center. Until the 1970s, all means of public transportation in Pittsburgh and Allegheny…

Maude Y. Hawkins: Charting an Independent Path

  This story was originally published in the Fall 2018 issue of Western Pennsylvania History. Portrait of Maude Y. Hawkins, c. 1960. Maude Y. Hawkins Photographs, MSQ 171, Detre Library & Archives at the History Center. Tempted by the lure of being their own boss, many dream of opening a business. Few will follow through, perhaps…