Safely preserved behind the doors of the History Center’s Detre Library & Archives are countless stories of the past. The essence of these stories can be found in the historical records that comprise each archival collection. Many and varied, these collections are like unique time capsules, preserved to shed light on our region’s rich history. Contained in each archival collection at the History Center are pieces of firsthand historical evidence, often taking the form of original documents, photographs, letters, diaries, reports, scrapbooks, photo albums, films, and audio files.
Every October, archivists across the country celebrate their collections and their profession by participating in American Archives Month. At its core, archivists’ professional mission is to collect, preserve, arrange, and describe archival collections of enduring research value so that they may be made accessible to the public. Archivists undertake this important work of preserving the unique records of individuals, families, businesses, governments, and organizations in order to save our past for future exploration and analysis.
American Archives Month is also a time to recognize that such exploration and analysis is made possible by providing open access to the historical records in archival collections. Our fascination with stories of the past and our understanding of the people who came before us all originate from the information and evidence preserved in archives across the globe. In this way, archives and archivists play a central role in sustaining and advancing a thoughtful and reflective society.
In celebration of American Archives Month, the Detre Library & Archives staff is delighted to offer Treasures in the Archives: WWII Edition, a special public program that will explore some local World War II stories from our archival collections. Members of the staff will present these stories with a particular focus on how the original photographs and documents form the bedrock of each tale. The presentation topics will highlight how the records in our collection reveal the manner in which some Western Pennsylvanians were affected by and reacted to the realities of war. Visitors will hear about the wartime experiences and contributions of children in the Pittsburgh Public Schools. They’ll also be invited to witness the altruism that a local Jewish couple extended to an Austrian couple in grave danger. In addition, visitors will learn of how the records contained in the collections of the Westinghouse Museum and Westinghouse Electric Company reveal the company’s dedication to the war effort.
One additional archival collection that will be highlighted is that of Midland, Pa. native, Kay Gimbus Bogovich. Seeing her region and her country mobilized for war, Kay felt compelled to join the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (later becoming the Women’s Army Corps) at the age of 20. Much to the chagrin of her father, Kay was sworn in and embarked from Pittsburgh in October 1942. While charting airplane movements and assisting in intelligence work, Kay lived and served across the United States and Europe. During this program, visitors will see how Kay used photography to capture glimpses into her experiences as a young woman in military service. Taken over 70 years ago, these photographs vividly preserve Kay’s place among the first local women to serve in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps.
Treasures in the Archives: WWII Edition will take place on Saturday, Oct. 17 at 10:30 a.m. in the Library & Archives Reading Room. The Detre Library & Archives staff is delighted to offer FREE admission to this program in honor of those archivists who have come before us at the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania.
As space is limited, please register for this program online or by contacting Sierra Green at 412-454-6361.
Sierra Green is an archivist with the Detre Library & Archives at the Heinz History Center.