Learn History Online

History Together: Activities for Families

History Together

Activities for Families

D.I.Y History: Activities for Kids

D.I.Y. History

Activities for Kids

Backyard Corps of Discovery

Be inspired by the Lewis & Clark Expedition and explore the mysteries of nature in your own backyard!

Meriwether Lewis and William Clark’s Corps of Discovery got its start in Pittsburgh. Their boat was probably built at Fort Layfette, along the Allegheny River about a quarter mile from Fort Pitt. Many of their supplies, two expedition members, and the expedition’s dog, a black Newfoundland named Seaman, all came from Pittsburgh!

While on the expedition that explored the Louisiana Purchase on behalf of President Thomas Jefferson in 1803, the Corps of Discovery recorded the things they saw and experienced. They met Native Americans from different nations, saw bears, and learned about plants that were new to them.

Lewis & Clark documented or brought leaves, needles, and other parts of plants, including orange honeysuckle, salmonberry, and the Oregon white oak. You can look at the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail’s interactive map for a full list of plants they documented.

You don’t have to go across the North America continent to look for plants that are new to you! Start with what you see nearby. Maybe there’s a tree that you don’t know in your backyard. Take a flower, a leaf, or some needles (make sure you get permission first!) and make a rubbing!

Use our provided journal page template or take plain white paper and put it on top of your flower, leaf, or needles. Make sure they won’t move! Get your favorite color crayon, peel off the wrapper, and turn the crayon sidewise and gently rub your specimen until you can see the ridges and other shapes come through!

Once you’ve made your rubbing, do a little investigating. What plant did it come from? Once you’ve learned more, add the plant’s name to the paper with the rubbing on it.

Share what you made on social media using @HistoryCenter, #HeinzHistoryCenter, and #HistoryAtHome!

  • Plant Rubbing (PDF) or plain white paper
  • Crayons

Coming Up With New Ideas

After having a scientific breakthrough, Charles Martin Hall needed to make a lot of products out of aluminum.  What would you pitch to him? 

People have known about aluminum for a really long time. The Greeks and Romans used aluminum salts to treat wounds. Europeans used it to create sculptures and make fancy forks, knives, and spoons. At one time, it was more valuable per ounce than gold because it was very difficult to purify. Scientists and inventors tried to find ways to make it easier to purify aluminum and, over the years, made it less expensive to produce.

Charles Martin Hall, working in a woodshed in his back yard, tried many different techniques to extract aluminum from rocks like bauxite or minerals like corundum. With the help of his sister Julia, Charles was finally able to do it in 1886, independently co-creating what today we call the Hall-Hérault Process.

Charles came to Pittsburgh for funders who would help him make products made of aluminum. He co-founded he Reduction Company of Pittsburgh (now known as Alcoa) and began creating products. What Charles didn’t realize, thought, was that the machines he used would become damaged if they stopped producing aluminum. That meant the scientists and engineers who worked with him needed to come up with a lot of new ideas for things that can be made out of aluminum!

Take a look at this picture that shows Alcoa products from our Discovery Place exhibition. Some products were made in the company’s early years while others are more recent. You can also find more Alcoa products, including a rug, a chair, and a bikini, in our History Center Online Collections. What do you see? Do you think that all of ideas were successful or worked well?

What would you want to make from aluminum? If you have aluminum foil at your house, with the permission of your grownups, take a piece that is about 12 inches long and transform it into your idea. Charles Martin Hall let his imagination run wild with ideas, so you should, too!

Remember the benefits of aluminum! It’s lightweight, doesn’t rust, is reflective, can have color added to it, can easily be molded, and is recyclable!

Share what you made on social media using @HistoryCenter, #HeinzHistoryCenter, and #HistoryAtHome!

  • Alcoa Products (PDF)
  • Aluminum Foil

Create a Soundscape

What would history sound like? Use some of our historic images as inspiration to make sounds with your family.

The combination of historic images and music can a great thing!

Take a look at a mix of historic images from the History Center’s collections. What sounds do you think are happening in each of the pictures? Is someone honking a horn in a vehicle? Are people or animals making sounds as they move or work?

Find instruments at home (or, with your grownup’s permission, get creative and make your own!) and make the sounds that you would hear in the pictures. What might make the same sounds as people walking on the street or the hum of an engine?

If you want to create a digital soundscape for the historic images, you can try a website like Chrome Music Lab or an app like GarageBand.

Share what you made on social media using @HistoryCenter, #HeinzHistoryCenter, and #HistoryAtHome!

  • Historic Pittsburgh images (PDF)

“Out Ferris” the Ferris Wheel

What could you design that is more “original, daring, and unique” than George Ferris’ original Ferris Wheel?

Innovators – people who come up with new ways of doing thing – have lived and worked in Pittsburgh for a long time. Some of them are household names, like Andrew Carnegie, but others are known by their innovations, like the Ferris Wheel.

George Ferris came to Pittsburgh to work on railroads and bridges. After the organizers of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition issued a challenge to create something that would “out Eiffel” the Eiffel Tower built for the 1889 Paris International Exposition and be “original, daring, and unique”, Ferris left trains behind and came up with a new idea – a rotating wheel that could carry riders.

It took some convincing, but the World’s Columbian Exposition organizers agreed that Ferris’s wheel would a centerpiece of the fair. So, he built it! The original Ferris Wheel had 36 cars that could carry up to 60 people each. It took 20 minutes for the Wheel to rotate twice, but people paid 50 cents each to ride it!

Imagine that the World’s Fair is coming to Pittsburgh and you’ve been put in charge of coming up with your own “original, daring, and unique” attraction! What would you do to “out Ferris” the Ferris Wheel?

Sketch it and then use supplies from around your house to make a mini version of it!

Share what you made on social media using @HistoryCenter, #HeinzHistoryCenter, and #HistoryAtHome!

  • Design template PDFs (Vertical) (Horizontal) or white paper
  • Coloring supplies
  • Building supplies like LEGO bricks or craft sticks

H.J. Heinz’s Garden

Make your own backyard garden inspired by H.J. Heinz! Design your own Heinz-style label to build up the anticipation for the harvest.

H.J. Heinz got to know the value of fresh vegetables as a kid. When he was eight years old, young H.J. began selling extra produce from his mother’s garden door-to-door to his neighbors in Sharpsburg and beyond. When he was 10, his parents gave him ¾ of an acre to grow horseradish and other vegetables. By age 12, his garden had grown to 3 ½ acres! H.J. had to start using a horse and cart to sell his vegetables because he had so many to sell!

The H.J. Heinz Company is famous for its tomato-based ketchup. From the very beginning, though, the company created products using beans, celery, horseradish, and more!

Pick vegetables that you and your family would like, find a good spot to grow them, and start your garden! You can find seeds in catalogues, online, and in stores. Spring is a good time to start so you can enjoy a full harvest!

After farmers at the H.J. Heinz Company grew and picked the vegetables, food scientists transformed them into ketchup, celery sauce (a spread for toast and sandwiches), baked beans, horseradish sauce, and more! Factory workers would then put the products into glass bottles and put a label on the bottle. The Heinz brand labels all looked similar so people would know to expect quality.

Make your own labels for the foods you’re going to be making! Print off the Heinz Label PDF, grab some coloring supplies, and start designing!

Share what you made on social media using @HistoryCenter, #HeinzHistoryCenter, and #HistoryAtHome!

  • Your choice of vegetable seeds
  • Heinz label page (PDF)
  • Coloring supplies

Plein Air Art Making

What do you see around you that captures your imagination? Look at neighborhood paintings by Pittsburgh artist Ron Donoughe and paint or draw what’s near you!

In 2013-14 Pittsburgh artist Ron Donoughe painted all 90 of Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods – from Allegheny Center to West End. Ron used the plein air approach of bringing his painting supplies with him, setting up an easel, and painting what he saw. Unlike other painting styles, plein air means you paint what you see in front of you, not what you imagine a place to look like or what you remember about it.

Ron didn’t just paint famous buildings from a neighborhood or the Pittsburgh skyline. He painted what caught his eye. Sometimes that meant a pool, an outdoor sculpture, a doorframe, a local donut shop, or even construction equipment.

You can look at his paintings in our History Center Online Collections. If you live in the city, find what Ron painted in your neighborhood! If you don’t live in the city, pick a painting out that you think is interesting!

When you’re looking at the painting, think about:

  • What’s happening in the painting?
  • Why do you think Ron might have decided to paint it?
  • Have you seen what Ron chose to include in this painting before?
  • Can you tell what season it is? Ron worked throughout the year!

Find a spot that you want to paint (or draw!), plein air style. It can be in your living room, backyard, or down the street. With your grownups’ permission, spend time capturing what you see and what surprises you!

If you can’t stay long, you can take a picture of what you see and draw or paint from there!

Share what you made on social media using @HistoryCenter, #HeinzHistoryCenter, and #HistoryAtHome!

  • Painting or drawing supplies
  • Easel, sketch board and clips, or clipboard

History in Your Home

History is everywhere, even in your family stories and your home! Look to see what you can discover!

It’s time to turn your home in to the location for a scavenger hunt!

Join us on Scavr using to look for objects that tell your family’s story! Scavr is available for all iOS devices. To join the official scavenger hunt, you can sign up here.

If you have an Android device or don’t want to play online, print off a copy of the scavenger and compete against your family members.

Share what you made on social media using @HistoryCenter, #HeinzHistoryCenter, and #HistoryAtHome!

Visual Storyteller

How can you use historic images to tell a story? Investigate artist Patricia Kennedy-Zafred’s “Steel Town Dues Paid” and adapt her style to tell a story about people from Pittsburgh.

Photographs can tell powerful stories, especially when they’re grouped together. Pittsburgh artist Patricia Kennedy-Zafred uses her background in journalism and photography to tell stories about the diverse fabric of America on quilts.

Patricia recently donated her quilt “Steel Town Dues Paid” to the History Center. It tells a story of Pittsburgh steel workers using photographs from the Library of Congress. Look at the quilt (PDF) and think about:

  • Who and what are included in included on the quilt?
  • How do you think the steel workers feel? What clues tell you that?
  • How does Patricia arrange the images?
  • What do you think Patricia added to the quilt to make it three dimensional and not just flat? You might have one on your backpack or a jacket!
  • What do you think Patricia means by “dues paid?” If you’re not sure, talk to your grownups about it!

Patricia creates visual narratives from hand-dyed fabric, silkscreened images, ink, and thread. Each project starts with the search for a story. She finds interesting photographs that show a particular emotion or story about American life. Patricia silk screens pictures on squares of fabric, arranges them in a grid pattern, and sews them together.

You can do the same thing with images from the History Center’s collection, cardstock or construction paper, scissors, glue sticks, and markers! Look at the sets of pictures that we’ve arranged. If you see one you like, use it! You can also use images from multiple sets if it fits the story you want to tell.

If you don’t see any images that inspire you, you can use Historic Pittsburgh to build your own set.

You can print off multiple copies of the same page to get duplicates. You can also cut the images smaller than they are on the page.

Once you have your grid set, decide if you want to add any extra buttons or color with a marker or colored pencil.

Share what you made on social media using @HistoryCenter, #HeinzHistoryCenter, and #HistoryAtHome!

“Steel Town Dues Paid” is currently on display in the Master Visual Artists VII: Preserving the Legacy exhibition.

  • Steel Town Dues Paid quilt (PDF)
  • Sports (PDF) | Outdoor and Families (PDF) | Playgrounds and Indoor Play (PDF)
  • Cardstock or construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue or glue sticks
  • Markers or colored pencils

Neighbor Check In

Create a fun card to check in with your neighbors and friends!

Fred Rogers, one of Pittsburgh’s best-known innovators, famously quoted his mother, who told him that in times of trouble to “look for the helpers.” In periods of crisis and uncertainty, history can provide insightful stories of how people in the past faced challenges. We believe those stories connect the past with today, reminding us of some of the characteristics helpers often demonstrate.

One common trait of helpers is compassion. Pittsburghers Jane Swisshelm, Mary T. Sullivan, Pat Tucker (among many other incredible people!) took care of wounded soldiers as nurses during wartime. Reporter Nellie Bly used her platform to call for improving working conditions in a Pittsburgh factory after seeing them firsthand.

What are ways that your family has shown compassion to others? How have others shown compassion to you?

Checking in with your neighbors and friends during difficult times is a simple way to show compassion to them.

We’ve created three greeting cards templates using images and objects from our collection to help do that. You can decide between kids playing on a jungle gym, Ron Donoughe’s painting of Schenley Park in the Squirrel Hill South neighborhood, and kids visiting Mister Rogers at the WQED Studio.

Decide which one you want to use and print it. If you want to draw your own picture, you can use our blank template to do that, too. There are horizontal and vertical versions for the blank template.

Fold the page in half along the dotted like. You can either write a short message directly on the inside of the card or cut out a fun shape from construction paper, write the message on the shape, and attach the shape to the inside of the card.

After your family has finished writing the note and signing the card, make another one! You can deliver the cards to in person or mail them.

Share what you made on social media using @HistoryCenter, #HeinzHistoryCenter, and #HistoryAtHome!

Community Storyteller

Create quick stories about your friends, family, and neighbors using storytelling dice!

August Wilson was an author who wrote nine plays that were set in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, the neighborhood where he grew up. August’s plays are fiction partially inspired by people in the community that he knew and show the comic and tragic parts of African American life. The characters in his plays are complicated, have to make difficult choices, and are deeply connected with their community.

Two of his most famous plays are “Fences” and “The Piano Lesson.” August won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for both of those plays.

You can create stories inspired by people you know, too!

Print off three copies of the Storytelling Dice PDF and follow the assembly instructions.

For the first version of the Storytelling Dice, draw people that you know. It could be members of your family, your friends, or neighbors! Pick people that you want to tell a story about.

For the second version of the Storytelling Dice, draw things that show actions your friends, family, or neighbors do. You could draw something to show swimming, reading, playing video games, or cooking.

For the third version of the Storytelling Dice, draw things that show places where your friends and family have gone. It could be a school, a home, the beach, a museum, or a park. Don’t worry about drawing the exact school, home, or park you’re thinking of because, depending on your story, it could be your home, a family member’s home, or a friend’s home.

After you’ve finished assembling all three versions of the Storytelling Dice, roll all of them. What combination did you get? Come up with a quick story that connects all three of the dice. Maybe your brother went to the beach to go for a run or your neighbor decided to read at home!

Once you’ve come up with a few quick stories, see if you can put them all together to build a longer story! You might need to change how you interpreted the locations. Maybe instead of the neighbor reading at their house, they’re watching your house while you are out of town and they decided to read!

Remember that August Wilson included both the good and the challenging things about life in his plays. Are there both good things and challenging things that take place in your longer story? If not, re-interpret what you rolled so that there are. Maybe the character tried to play a video game but the internet wasn’t working or the controller needed to be recharged. What do they do next?

Share what you made on social media using @HistoryCenter, #HeinzHistoryCenter, and #HistoryAtHome!

  • Three copies of Storytelling Dice (PDF)
  • Scissors
  • Glue or tape
  • Coloring supplies

Neighborhood Inventory

What makes a strong neighborhood?

Fred Rogers, one of Pittsburgh’s best-known innovators, famously quoted his mother, who told him that in times of trouble to “look for the helpers.” In periods of crisis and uncertainty, history can provide insightful stories of how people in the past faced challenges. We believe those stories connect the past with today, reminding us of some of the characteristics helpers often demonstrate.

One common trait of helpers is empathy, or being aware of the experiences, feelings, or thoughts of others. Fred Rogers constantly demonstrated empathy on “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” by asking his television neighbors think about the feelings and experiences of both the show’s characters and themselves. Playwright August Wilson demonstrated empathy while crafting the “American Century Cycle,” by including characters that reflected people he knew in the Hill District neighborhood. Roberto Clemente demonstrated empathy by using his status as a star baseball player to support Caribbean, Latino, and Central American communities in the United States and abroad.

What are ways that your family has shown empathy? How have others been empathetic towards you?

What is in your neighborhood or community? As a family, come up with a as large of a list as you can! Are there houses, apartment buildings, grocery stores, parks, restaurants, hospitals, or libraries near you?

After you’ve finished brainstorming, print off a copy of the Story Sharing Dice for each family member participating in the activity and follow the assembly instructions.

Each person should decide on their top six things in your community or neighborhood and draw them on the Story Sharing Dice.

After you’ve finished assembling the Story Sharing Dice, take turns rolling the dice you made. How does what you rolled help to make the community strong? Share a memory you have about the place. What are you looking forward to about being able to go back to it? How have your friends and neighbors used it?

After everyone has had a few turns, think about what is missing from your neighborhood or community that would make it stronger. What do your friends and neighbors need that isn’t there now? Share a story you know from a friend or neighbor that shows something that could improve the neighborhood or community.

Practice empathy and come up with at least six options that would benefit your friends and neighbors. You can either talk about them or make a second Story Sharing Dice and take turns rolling and sharing.

Share what you made on social media using @HistoryCenter, #HeinzHistoryCenter, and #HistoryAtHome!

  • One copy of Story Sharing Dice per participant (PDF)
  • Scissors
  • Tape or glue
  • Coloring supplies

Design a Game

Take inspiration from historic games and design your own!

Look at the “Life of a Heinz Pickle” board game. If you want, print it off and play it!

  • This game explores the steps that take place between when a cucumber seed is planted and you eat it as a pickle in your own home.
  • How does the game tell you about how pickles are made?
  • What did the game designers do to add in an extra challenge or make the game more fun than it otherwise might be?
  • What are the pieces you’d need to play?

Look at the “Around the World with Nellie Bly” board game. If you want, print it off and play it!

  • This game re-creates the trip that Western Pennsylvania native and journalist Nellie Bly took around the world on behalf of the New York World newspaper in an attempt to beat the fictional record set by Phileas Fogg in Jules Verne’s “Around the World in 80 Days.”
  • How did the game tell you about Nellie’s journey?
  • What did the game designers do to add an extra challenge or make the game more fun than it otherwise might be?

After you’ve explored “Life of a Heinz Pickle” and “Around the World with Nellie Bly,” start thinking about a story you want to tell through a board game. It can be based on a real story from your life, like a family trip, a daily routine, or a completely made-up story. Whatever you decide, make sure that it has multiple steps, is interesting, and you can come up with pictures to go along with some of the steps.

Get a piece of scratch paper and make a test version of your game. Plan out what the board will look like, if there will be any extra challenges on the board, and decide what you want to use for game pieces and how the players will figure out how to move on the board. You could use a spinner, dice, or even a paper “fortune teller!” Look at other board games you have for inspiration and borrow some of their parts.

After you’ve made your test version, play it and see if there are any changes you want to make. What might you do to add an extra challenge or make it more fun?

Once you’re happy with your design, get a piece of construction paper, cardstock, or cardboard and make a final version! On the final version of your game, add in any drawing you want to use to tell the story.

After your final version is completed, have a family game night and play your game!

Share what you made on social media using @HistoryCenter, #HeinzHistoryCenter, and #HistoryAtHome!

  • “Life of a Heinz Pickle” board game (PDF)
  • “Around the World with Nellie Bly” board game (PDF)
  • Scratch paper
  • Construction paper, cardstock, or cardboard
  • Coloring supplies
  • Dice and player tokens from another game

Lights, Camera, Action!

Be part of the next wave of Pittsburgh actors and directors! Create your own movie scene at home.

People from Pittsburgh have made their mark in the film industry from almost the very beginning.

Pioneering director Lois Weber was among the first to have car chases and split screens in her silent movies from the 1910’s and ‘20’s. Dolores Costello, Adolphe Menjou, and Vivian Reed were leading actors in that same time period. Actor and dancer Gene Kelly became a star in the 1940s and director George Romero helped to popularize zombies with 1968’s Night of the Living Dead. Since then, actors and directors like Michael Keaton, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Nunn, Antoine Fuqua, Ming-Na Wen, and Tamara Tunie continuing the tradition through to today.

You can be part of Pittsburgh’s filmmaking tradition. Just grab a smartphone or tablet and your creativity!

As a family, decide what type of scene or sequence of scenes you want to make. It could be anything from a dramatic moment to an action scene to a happy ending. If you’re having trouble deciding on what type of scene or sequence of scenes to make, use the Scene Picker (PDF). Print it off, cut out each type of scene into strips of paper, crumple the strips up, put them in a hat or bowl, shake it up, and pick one.

After you’ve decided what type of scene you want to produce, decide what role everyone will play. You’ll need actors, camera operators, and directors. If you want, you can take turns with each of the roles.

Decide where you want to film your scene. Maybe it’s in the living room, backyard, or the kitchen. Or maybe you move locations in the scene. It’s up to you!

Think about the lines the actors will say in the scene. How do they tell the audience what’s happening? Decide if you want the lines to be funny or more serious. If you want, write them down so you can practice them.

Once you have a good idea for what will happen in your scene and where you’ll film it, use the Our Storyboard (PDF) to show what the camera will record. Are there close up shots that focus on an actor’s face? Are there wide angle shots that make the actor look small compared to the location?

After you have your storyboard planned out, practice it a few times. When you think you’re ready, film it! Don’t worry if it takes a few takes to get it right! If you have iMovie or a similar app, you can put shorter scenes together into one movie, add music, or credits.

Once your scene is finished, make a movie poster to help promote your movie. You can do it digitally on an app like PicCollage or with paper and colored pencils, markers or crayons.

Share what you made on social media using @HistoryCenter, #HeinzHistoryCenter, and #HistoryAtHome!

  • Smartphone or tablet
  • Scene Picker (PDF)
  • Storyboard (PDF)

A Week in the Life

Practice your photography skills and show everyday life like Betty Taylor and members the Dorsey-Turfley family!

As a wedding present, Betty Taylor’s husband Robert gave her a camera. She quickly grew to love photography and took pictures of daily events, like backyard barbeques, Pirates games, neighborhood parties, and visits to Mt. Washington. There are at least 100 boxes of Betty’s photographs at the History Center!

We also have hundreds of pictures from the Dorsey-Turfley family that show their daily life from 1890s to the 1980s, including canoe trips at Olympia Park in Mt. Washington, family get togethers, and kids playing on the Washington Park playground. Some of the earliest pictures show James Dorsey in his basketball uniforms, getting ready for a big game.

Both Betty and members of the Dorsey-Turfley family took pictures over long periods of time and help us to see how their family grew and changed over the years.

Both Betty and the Dorsey-Turfley family took pictures that show everyday life, not just big events like weddings or graduations. Take a look at some of the photographs from their collections. (PDF)

Think about things that you and your family do. Do you go outside for walks? Play games together? Go camping? What would make for an interesting photograph?

Take pictures that show things your family did over the course of a week. Make sure that you include everyday happenings and things that are more special. Once the week is over, make a collage. If you used a phone or tablet, you can use PicCollage or a similar app to do it digitally.

What did you notice about the week when you looked back at the pictures?

Come up with captions that tell a little more about the photos .

If you want, start the project over again the next week. How was that week different than the first week?

Share what you made on social media using @HistoryCenter, #HeinzHistoryCenter, and #HistoryAtHome!

History Lab: For Students and Teachers

History Lab

For Students and Teachers

Week One: Questioning Objects ↠ View now

Week Two: Objects Telling Stories ↠ View now

Week Three: Time Capsules ↠ View now

Week Four: Look Into the PastView now

Civics on Sunday

Civics on Sundays

Actions for Everyone

Rachel Carson

Growing up just outside Pittsburgh,  Rachel Carson developed a passion for the natural world at an early age. Learn more about her education, career, and activism here on the History Center Blog and in the Western Pennsylvania History Magazine. If you are in a hurry, take a minute to listen to this mini podcast for quick overview of her life’s work and advocacy.

Rachel Carson changed the world by following her passion and writing about problems she saw in her backyard. Her voice resonates to this day and we can honor her legacy by continuing to speak out on issues large and small that inspire or interest you. There are many small actions you can take today to have a large impact in your community.

Reach out to an Elected Official
Use the resources linked below to find your local, state, and federal representatives. Send them a tweet, give them a call, or write them a letter to let them know how you feel about current events and add your voice to the debate!

Write a Letter to the Editor
Don’t waste time shouting into the void – express yourself on a local or national issue by writing a Letter to the Editor of a newspaper or other media forum.

Register to Vote and/or Request a Mail-in Ballot
You may be stuck at home, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make your voice heard at the ballot box! You can use the links below to register to vote online, or request a mail-in ballot.

Be a Good Neighbor
While this is not the time to throw a block party, you can still make a positive impact in your neighborhood by looking out for those in need. If you are able, offer to help others by picking up groceries, volunteering to sew a mask, or just giving a friendly wave from a safe distance away.

How to look-up and contact your elected officials:

Common Cause

Voter Registration and Mail-in Ballots, Pennsylvania:

Voter Registration
Mail-In Ballot Requests

Census Celebration: Make Your Mark

We may not be gathering together these days, but help us celebrate the census in classic Pittsburgh style! Just like baking for a cookie table, your participation in the census is a great way to support your family and neighbors and celebrate a rich tradition. Every ten years since 1790, people in Pennsylvania have raised their hands to be counted. Join their ranks and use the links below to respond to the census and to encourage others to do the same! Once you’re done, reward yourself with a sweet treat and learn about the history of cookie tables in this mini-podcast brought to you by the Heinz History Center.

Complete the Census
For the first time ever, people have been invited to respond to the census online! Lookout for a postcard with your individual response number and then use the link below to complete your form at 2020census.gov. Keep in mind that some households may receive a paper form or get a visit from a friendly census enumerator, and you can also respond over the phone.

Lend a Helping Hand
Once you have completed the census, take time to think if there is anyone who may need a little extra help completing theirs. You could offer to help someone respond online, or share some of the resources listed below with those in need. For example, the online form can be completed in thirteen different languages including Arabic, French, Haitian Creole, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Tagalog, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese!

Spread the Word
Community resources like public transportation and education rely on accurate census numbers. Help support your neighbors by using social media to encourage others to respond – the more the merrier!

Primary Power: Exercise Your Rights

Pittsburgh is no stranger to unusual elections. In 1850, write-in candidate Joseph Barker won the mayoral election from inside the city jail. Whether you plan to vote for a write-in candidate or someone already on the ticket, use the resources below to request your mail-in ballot by May 26th, or check the list of consolidated polling places to see where you can vote in person on June 2nd. Once you’ve made a plan to cast your ballot, take a minute to learn about Mayor Barker or explore the History Center’s collection of political campaign ephemera. You don’t have to be running to make a difference; history is made by people who vote!

Go Vote!
If you’d like to vote in person, or miss the May 26 deadline to request a mail-in ballot, use the resources below to find your polling place. These are unusual times in the city, and as such you may not be voting in your usual location due to consolidated polling places. If there has been a change, take a minute to tell your neighbors so that everyone is ready to go on June 2.

Request a Mail-in Ballot
You may be stuck at home, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make your voice heard at the ballot box You can use the links below to request a mail-in ballot and make a difference while staying socially distant.

Spread the Word
No one likes to vote alone! Use social media to encourage others to vote on June 2, either in person or by mail.

News Clues: Straight to the Source 

With the fast pace of today’s news cycle and increased access to different forms of media, many people are consuming more news than ever before.  Unfortunately, not all news sources are of equal quality nor do they all have the same goals in mind.  While occasional mistakes are inevitable for any media outlet, there is a long tradition of not-quite-so verifiable news stories popping up in papers and newscasts. By way of local example, in 1867, Greensburg native Frank Cowan concocted an alternate history in which Viking ships explored the Potomac 500 years before Columbus set sail. Originally published in the Evening Union, his story was picked up by newspapers around the world and the phony story spread throughout the US and Europe. With a keen eye and a little digging, however, the discerning reader could tell that story, like so many that spread on social media today, was fake.

Escape the Echo Chamber
Read a paper, watch the evening news, share an article – knowledge is power, and variety the spice of life! Try and switch up your sources and get your news from a different source than the day before.

Go Straight to the Source

The books and articles you read are based on any number of primary sources, which may be eyewitness accounts or decades-old documents. Follow a citation to the source and see if you agree with how your news coverage portrays the underlying facts.

Check Yourself
If you come across a news article or social media post that doesn’t quite smell right, use the tools on websites like factcheck.org, snopes.com, or politifact.com to to help sort our fact from fiction.

Thank you to the Heinz History Center sponsors