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Pickles and Steel!

by on June 3, 2014


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The Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania in Pittsburgh received an NHPRC grant to support a two-year project to process 13 collections that document business and industries in western Pennsylvania, 1844-2002.

The Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania was established in 1879 and began doing business as the Senator John Heinz History Center (HHC) in 1996. HHC is considered the largest history museum in Pennsylvania. The Library and Archives Division is responsible for documenting the history and culture of western Pennsylvania and its regional, national, and global contexts by collecting, preserving, and providing access to primary and secondary sources. More than 860 finding aids are available online and 5,000 images are available on Historic Pittsburgh (digital.library.pitt.edu/pittsburgh). HHC has also recently established a website called Life in Western Pennsylvania (lifeinwesternpa.org) which provides access to over 800 images and 12 moving image clips.

In 2011, the NHPRC awarded a grant to HHC for the basic-level processing of over 600 collections totaling 2,130 linear feet. These collections date from the late-18th century to the present and document business and industry, ethnic communities, arts organizations, religious groups, civic entities, and politics.

Business and industry collections are among those most frequently requested by researchers and are used by a wide range of researchers, including high school and college students, curators planning exhibits, academics, genealogists, documentary producers, and authors of both scholarly and general interest publications. The collections targeted for this project include records of influential Pittsburgh-based companies such as Westinghouse, Alcoa, Heinz, and U.S. Steel, as well as several smaller firms. These records, which document the beginning and evolution of the nation’s aluminum, glass, consumer electronics, steel, energy, food, and financial services industries, reveal diverse aspects of these companies and shed light on initiatives to recruit immigrants, women, and minorities to the workforce; World War I and II production efforts; labor union strife; national transportation systems and infrastructure; the rise and fall of manufacturing; the evolution of advertising; and the emergence of the multinational corporation.


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