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How Do You Solve a Problem Like Columbus?

  Newspapers published the “Story of Columbus” as a part of the nation’s celebration of Discoverer’s Day in October 1892. This page from The Scranton Republican is typical of what papers ran at the time, and these accounts became the basis for how we once taught the history of Columbus in public schools. On Oct.…

From the Author: New Italian American Collection Book

  Procession in Taverna, Italy, 1936. Gift of Michael Cosentino. Italian American Collection at the Heinz History Center. Thirty years ago, the Senator John Heinz History Center embarked on a mission to preserve and interpret the history of Italian migrants that settled in Western Pennsylvania. The initiative began at the encouragement of Italian American community…

A Few of our Curators’ Favorite Things

In 1961, two years after “The Sound of Music” opened on Broadway and four years before the movie was released, Julie Andrews sang the song “My Favorite Things” on a Garry Moore TV holiday special. Couple that with the song’s release on The Jack Jones Christmas Album in 1964, and it became a holiday classic.…

The Lega Toscana in the 21st Century: A Digital Humanities Case Study

  Pages from the Lega Toscana Meeting Minutes, 1919-1925 The History Center’s Italian American Program maintains working relationships with a number of partner organizations from Pittsburgh’s vibrant Italian American community. One of our long-standing partnerships is with the University of Pittsburgh’s French & Italian Department. Members of their staff participate in our Italian American Advisory…

In Vino Veritas: The Tradition of Winemaking in the Italian American Home

  Mrs. Gallo, Lena Scalise, and Angelo Borelli process food to store for the winter, 1958. Courtesy of Elissa Scalise Powell. Like all immigrants, Italians brought their traditional methods of food production with them to their new homes in America. From canning garden-grown vegetables and curing meats to home brewing wine and spirits (think limoncello),…

From Cucina to Grocery Store: The Evolution of Pasta-Making in American Homes

  A version of this article appeared in the Fall 2014 issue of Western Pennsylvania History magazine. October 25 is World Pasta Day For many people, Italian American culture is synonymous with Italian food. And who could fault individuals for thinking this way, considering the pervasiveness of Italian American cuisine in the United States today.…

Quel Mazzolin di Fiori: I Campagnoli and the Italian American Folk Revival

  I Campagnoli marching in a parade in downtown Pittsburgh, 1980s. I Campagnoli Papers & Photographs, Detre Library & Archives at the History Center. Gift of Mary Ferro. Musicologist Alan Lomax stated that “the first function of music, especially of folk music, is to produce a feeling of security for the listener by voicing the…

Putting Faces to Names: Exploring Italian American Identity with Photo IDs

As the project archivist for the Italian American Program at the Heinz History Center, I spent the last 10 months organizing, preserving, and providing access to collections that document Italian American experiences in Western Pennsylvania, including the Joseph D’Andrea Papers and Photographs (MSS #1113), which can be found in the Detre Library & Archives. Joseph…

Researching & Writing with the Italian American Program

Bruno Calabro and his mother, Agostina, in May 1943, only days before Agostina’s death. Bruno was on his way from Washington, Pa. to an Army base when he received the news of his mother’s death and had to return home. My first contact with Tina Calabro was in early 2014 when she called the History…

An In-Depth Look at the Italian American Program

The Italian American display of the fourth floor Special Collections Gallery highlights only a fraction of the History Center’s Italian American Collection. The Senator John Heinz History Center’s Italian American Program was founded in 1990 at the urging of the local Italian American community. The mission of the program is to document, preserve, and interpret…