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

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Dr. Jonas Salk and the Polio Vaccine

Sixty-five years ago, Dr. Jonas Salk saved countless lives around the world with the development of an effective vaccine for polio. Dr. Jonas Salk (center) and his team of researchers saved countless lives around the world with the development of an effective vaccine for polio. (Allegheny Conference on Community Development Photographs, Detre Library & Archives.)…

Nellie Bly: A Race Against Time

This post is an edited excerpt of “Nellie Bly: Pioneer Journalist Extraordinaire,” which appeared in the summer 2017 issue of Western Pennsylvania History Magazine. Learn more about Western Pennsylvania native Nelly Bly in the Pittsburgh: A Tradition of Innovation exhibition. Portrait of Nellie Bly on the “Round the World” board game. Courtesy of the University…

Manufacturing Thrills: The Legacy of Western Pennsylvania’s Roller Coaster Pioneers

  Sometimes the research for one story naturally leads into another. While working through collections related to a recent post about lost amusement parks, I came across this great image for the Pittsburgh-based T. M. Harton Company’s Scenic Auto-Dip. The ride thrilled visitors to the annual Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto between 1902 and 1906.…

The Real Johnny Appleseed

  Through centuries of American storytelling, the name Johnny Appleseed has become synonymous with the fortitude and bravery attributed to early American pioneers. While there are many conflicting versions of the legendary story, the real Johnny Appleseed was a man named John Chapman who frequented Western Pa. Chapman, who was born in Massachusetts in 1774,…

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?: A Portrait of Fred Rogers

  Mister Rogers changing his shoes, which he did at the start of every episode. Photo courtesy of The Fred Rogers Company. For more than 50 years, Mister Rogers’ messages of kindness, compassion, and learning have inspired audiences around the world. His television show, “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” made its national debut on Feb. 19, 1968.…

Pittsburgh Aviator Calbraith Perry Rodgers

Calbraith Perry Rodgers in 1911. A young adventurer from Pittsburgh defied odds and changed aviation forever after completing the world’s first transcontinental flight in 1911. Calbraith Perry Rodgers Jr. was born in Pittsburgh on Jan. 12, 1879 to a family with a long history of prestigious U.S. Navy service. Rodgers was related to Commodores John…

Samuel Langley: Pioneering Standard Time

The Allegheny Observatory, founded in 1859, has been integral to plenty of advancements in astronomical research. However, one of its most interesting contributions – accurate timekeeping – primarily benefited another important industry: railroads. For much of human history, timekeeping was an imprecise science based on the movement of the sun. The sun’s position in the…

John Brashear’s Forgotten Time Capsule

The simple box has a shallow lid and was soldered shut. Etched into the underside of the lid is the name E. Miller, likely Edward Miller, who was one of Brashear’s employees who made optical instruments and likely fashioned the box. Heinz History Center Collections, L2015.50. Photo by Liz Simpson. The complete contents of the…

Remembering Billy Strayhorn

Billy Strayhorn, Westinghouse High School yearbook, 1934. Pittsburgh’s Jazz legacy includes some of the greatest musicians, composers, arrangers, and singers in the history of the music. One of the greatest composers and arrangers was Westinghouse High School graduate Billy Strayhorn. Strayhorn collaborated with Duke Ellington and was responsible for over 200 compositions, including the Ellington…

Bertha Lamme, Engineer

Women’s History Month: Bertha Lamme Trailblazer with a Slide Rule Bertha Lamme, at work at Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company, 1895. Image courtesy of Dorothy Boyer. As recently as 1980, only about six percent of engineers in the U.S. were women. That number has improved significantly today, but there is still only one woman for…