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Pittsburgh’s John Kane: Coming to America

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Colin Powell: A Soul Soldier’s Life

  In 2006, I was busy working on a new exhibit, Soul Soldiers: African Americans and the Vietnam Era. The exhibit would go on to win regional, statewide, and national awards and travel to seven American cities from 2008 to 2011. Soul Soldiers was seen by over 450,000 visitors to museums in Chicago, Richmond, Birmingham, Memphis, Cleveland, Dallas, and Philadelphia. It was recognized…

Daisy Lampkin

  Born in Washington, D.C. and educated in Reading, Pa., Daisy Lampkin was a suffragette, civil rights activist, organization executive, business woman, orator, and community leader. Gift of Earl L. Childs, DDS. Daisy Lampkin once said that, “nothing is done unless women do it,” and throughout her life, she was a woman who did it…

The Tuskegee Airmen

  Photo of William A. Johnston. Johnston grew up in Sewickley, Pa. He enlisted in the Army Air Force at the age of 17 and served as a Second Lieutenant with the 15th Air Force of the 332nd Fighter Group of the Tuskegee Army Air Corps from 1944 to the end of the war. Following…

Pennsylvania Women and the Vote

  On the Centennial of the 19th Amendment Today marks the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which made it illegal to deny citizens the right to vote based on sex. As we commemorate this landmark anniversary, let’s look back at some of the Pennsylvania women who fought…

Negro League Centennial: Negro League Baseball in Pittsburgh

  The Homestead Grays baseball uniform of second baseman Clarence Bruce is on display in the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum. Bruce wore number 46 for the Grays for the 1947 and 1948 seasons. A member of the 1948 Negro League championship team, Bruce was known for his superior defensive skills. Courtesy of the Pittsburgh Pirates.…

The Numbers Banker’s Safe

  William “Bill” Snyder (c. 1897-1984) was a bootlegger and gambler whose brief career in the 1920s and 1930s forever changed Pittsburgh. Along with Gus Greenlee, Woogie Harris, and Richard Gauffney, Snyder introduced numbers gambling to the city and became one of its earliest top bankers and racket leaders. For a brief time, Snyder enjoyed…

Exploring Images of John Brown

  John Brown, by Anton Hohenstein after Martin Lawrence, published by John Smith, lithograph on paper, 1866. Currently on display in the exhibition Smithsonian’s Portraits of Pittsburgh: Works from the National Portrait Gallery. Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. On July 3, 1859, abolitionist John Brown first arrived in the vicinity of Harper’s…

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…

“Lifting as we climb”: The Aurora Reading Club Records

The Aurora Reading Club celebrating its 90th anniversary in 1984. Aurora Reading Club Records, Detre Library & Archives at the History Center. “Lifting as we climb” means to encourage and provide for others while making one’s way in the world It is what Pittsburgh’s Aurora Reading Club did at its founding in 1894 and continues…

The African American Experience in Pittsburgh, Virginia – Part 2

This is a continuation of a series on the African American experience in Pittsburgh, Virginia. Click here to read part 1. Benjamin Henry Latrobe, An overseer doing his duty near Fredericksburg, Virginia, c. 1798. Maryland Historical Society. Though Latrobe observed and painted in Virginia near the end of the 18th century, such a scene would…