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Pittsburgh’s John Kane: Coming to America

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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…

Asian American Heritage at the Heinz History Center

  May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. To mark the occasion, explore artifacts from the Heinz History Center collection that speak to Asian and Asian American heritage in Western Pennsylvania. You can also check out a previous post that showcased stories highlighted in the wonderful cookie portraits of Pittsburgh artist Jasmine Cho.…

Celebrating National Nurses Week

  A photograph in the collection of the History Center’s Detre Library & Archives captures a moment in the life of an operating room nurse from Montefiore Hospital, c. 1910. Clothed head –to-toe in white, only her eyes are visible. Although we do not know much else about her, the image speaks across decades, evoking…

Meet Winnie the Welder

  “No. We were not Rosie the Riveter. We welded ships. Rosie got all the attention. No one even gave us a name. Anne Jurjevic Thomas, welder at Dravo during World War IIi Today “Rosie the Riveter” symbolizes all American women who worked in the nation’s defense industries during World War II. Congress confirmed this…

The Rise and Fall of Pittsburgh’s Diamond Market

  Traffic running under Diamond Market, c. 1960. At the time it was developed, planners saw the traffic throughway as a solution to creating space for both cars and commerce. From the Detre Library & Archives at the Heinz History Center. From 1915 until it was demolished in 1961, Diamond Market shaped the life of…

Your Ticket to the Inauguration

  For additional presidential inauguration artifacts in the History Center’s collections, please visit The Presidents in Office, an exhibit as part of Google Arts and Culture. Invitation to the presidential inauguration, 1965. Lyndon B. Johnson, MFF 1049 Detre Library & Archives at the History Center. Presidential inaugurations are meaningful moments in our country’s political history.…

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…

MGM’s “Words and Music,” 1948: A Holiday Turning Point

During the holiday season of 1948, three well-known performing artists with Western Pennsylvania connections all appeared in the same motion picture: MGM’s movie musical “Words and Music,” a biopic roughly based on the story of the creative partnership of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. For each of the performers—Gene Kelly, Perry Como, and Lena Horne­—the…

Why Women’s History Initiatives Matter

An October post featuring Pittsburgh businesswomen garnered such great response that it deserved a follow up. These efforts remind us why celebrations like the 19th Amendment Centennial need to go forward despite pandemic challenges and why projects such as the History Center’s Women Forging the Way initiative and the Smithsonian’s Because of Her Story are…