Bookshelf provides descriptions and notices of recent publications on Pennsylvania subjects.

Pennsylvania Architecture: The Historic American Buildings Survey, 1933-1990

By Deborah Stephens Bums and Richard J. Web­ster, with Candace Reed Stem
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 2000 (629 pages; cloth, $85.00; paper, $65.00)

This hefty volume befits its subject: it is a landmark book devoted to landmark buildings. Copiously illustrated, Pennsylvania Architecture: The Historic American Buildings Survey, 1933-1990, documents older and historic buildings and structures throughout the Keystone State over a period of nearly sixty years, beginning in the early 1930s. The brainchild of architect Charles E. Peterson, F.A.I.A., who wrote the foreword to this book, the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) was the first comprehensive federal program to document American architecture (see “Preserving Philadelphia: A Conversation with Charles E. Peterson, F.A.I.A.,” by William C. Kashatus, Fall 1998). Since its inception, HABS has become the largest architectural archives of its kind, and Pennsylvania claims the greatest number of buildings – more than sixteen hundred – recorded in measured drawings, photographs, and narratives. Pennsylvania Architecture is a guide to these properties, of which more than one-third are located in the City of Philadelphia. However, every area of the Commonwealth possesses structures worthy of recording by HABS teams, such as Fayette County’s Isaac Meason House, Berks County’s Yellow House Hotel, Northampton County’s John Sebastian Goundie House, Centre County’s Boalsburg (now Duffy’s) Tavern, Allegheny County’s James Miller House, Erie County’s Hutchinson House, Carbon County’s Asa Packer Mansion, Luzerne County’s Nathan Denison House, Adams County’s Eisenhower Farm, and Pike County’s Zane Grey House. Architectural historians contend that fully one-third of all buildings recorded by HABS have disappeared – victims of neglect, demolition, fires, urban expansion, and highway improvement. A quick look at the book’s catalogue entries confirms their as­sumptions; gone are Adams County’s Stevens Viaduct (deterioration), Berks County’s Mutual Fire Insurance Company Building (demolition), Delaware County’s Nantmell Hall (dete­rioration followed by demolition), York County’s Detters Mill Covered Bridge (collapse), Beaver County’s George Washington School (urban expansion), and Washington County’s Joseph Dorsey House (fire). Pennsylvania Architecture opens with a sec­tion chronicling the history of HABS in Pennsylvania, by Deborah Stephens Burns and Candace Reed Stem, followed by a lengthy chapter (of nearly two hundred pages) discussing ar­chitecture in the Commonwealth, written by Richard J. Webster. Historians, historic architects, and historic preservationists will find Pennsylvania Architecture an indispensable tool for the study of local, regional, and state history and architecture. Even the most casual of readers cannot help but be fascinated by the vari­ety of building styles and the geographical regions in which they emerged. The catalogue entries are extremely well organized, making this book not only easy to use, but enjoyable as well. The photographs, line drawings, and elevations are as elegant as they are informative. Pennsylvania Architecture: The Historic American Buildings Survey, 1933-1990, deserves a place on bookshelves of readers who take pride in the history of the Keystone State and its contributions to American architecture.


The Cold War at Home: The Red Scare in Pennsylvania, 1945-1960

By Philip Jenkins
University of North Carolina Press, 1999 (259 pages; cloth, $49.95; paper, $18.95)

One of the most significant industrial states in the country, with a powerful radical tradition, Pennsylvania was, by the early 1950s, the scene of some of the fiercest anti-Communist activism in the United States. The Cold War at Home: The Red Scare in Pennsylvania, 1945-1960, examines the political and social impact of the Cold War across the Commonwealth, tracing the Red Scare’s reverberations in party politics, the labor movement, ethnic and fraternal organizations, schools and universities, and religious organizations. Among the book’s most provocative findings is the revelation that, although their absolute numbers were not large, Communists were well positioned in crucial regions and constituencies in Pennsylvania, particularly in labor unions, the educational system, and major ethnic organizations. Communists were active outside the two main metropolitan centers, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Two FBI infiltrators surfaced in 1954 and reported to a Senate committee gathering evidence of “Red infiltration” in several important industrial cities. According to these accounts, Communists were active in steel and other industrial centers such as the Lehigh Valley communities of Allentown and Bethlehem, but the membership included a broad section of occupations and backgrounds. Among Reading’s fifty card-car­rying Communists were small business owners and farmers. Instead of focusing on the Commonwealth’s right-wing politicians – the sort represented nationally by Senator Joseph McCarthy – the author emphasizes the anti-Communist activities of liberal politicians, labor leaders, and ethnic community figures who were terrified of Communist encroachments on their respective power bases. He also stresses the deep roots of the Keystone State’s militant anti-Communism, which can be traced back at least into the 1930s.


The Landis Valley Cookbook: Pennsyl­vania Ger­man Foods and Traditions

By Hester M. Null, editor
Landis Valley Associates, 1999 (144 pages, cloth, $24.95)

Although The Landis Valley Cookbook contains two hundred traditional – and delicious – recipes, its real significance and undeniable charm lies in the vintage photographs, folklore, and diary excerpts. The book grew out of the many inquiries about traditional foods and customs of the Pennsylvania Germans posed by visitors to Landis Valley Museum in Lancaster, a complex that until the mid-twentieth century was but a small rural crossroads village. Since the arrival of the earliest German-speaking immigrants to Pennsylvania in the late seventeenth century – who became collectively (and colloqui­ally) known as the Pennsylvania Dutch – they have been a constant source of wonderment to the rest of the outside world. The Pennsylvania Dutch, which include many religions from the “Plain” people (the Amish and conservative Mennon­ites) to the more numerous Lutheran and German Reformed Churches, brought with them to America a rich food history, and by incorporating the foods of the New World in their diet, they created an American regional form of cooking from a true German heritage. The Landis Valley Cookbook is more than its name suggests; it is far more than just a gleaning of Pennsylvania Dutch recipes. It is an earnest attempt to introduce readers to an often-misunderstood culture – and its foodways – by presenting an overview of its folklore and way of life. (Of course, cooks will find time-honored recipes for popular, old-fashioned fare, such as egg custard pie, chicken corn soup, shoo fly pie, molasses cakes, grape butter, scrapple, baked oysters, pork and sauerkraut, apples and dumplings, and hog maw.) The book is organized into chapters reflecting the ordinary activities of the Pennsylvania Dutch: moving day (“flittin’ and fressin'”), barn raisings (“they built it chust so”), quilting bees and more (“fairs, frolics, and versammlings”), butchering day (“you can use all of the pig except the oink”), and funerals (“don’t he fit his coffin nice?”). The book is illustrated with beautiful color photographs and a number of black and white vintage images drawn from the Landis Valley Museum’s collection.


Fraktur Writings and Folk Art Drawings of the Schwenkfelder Library Collection

By Dennis K. Moyer
The Pennsylvania German Society, 1998 (301 pages, cloth, $69.95)

Described by The Magazine Antiques as required reading for collectors, Fraktur Writings and Folk Art Drawings of the Schwenkfelder Library Collection presents a sumptuous array of original works created during a one-hundred-year period, from 1750 to 1850, by teachers, students, and everyday folk in a religious community of German immigrants known as Schwenkfelders, located in southeastern Pennsylvania. This book defines – for the very first time – the distinctive style of Schwenkfelder artists who used bright colors, elaborate pen work, and familiar motifs of birds and flowers. However, Schwenkfelder artists also used pastel colors, and images such as dragon heads, fish, and human figures. Identified by the author as a teacher at the Goschenhoppen School in the 1820s, Samuel Schultz was a talented writer and artist responsible for the decorative folk art drawings and fancy lettering found in the Schwenkfelder Library’s archives of nineteenth-century students’ workbooks. Schultz is just one of the many previously unidentified artists presented in this book which introduces readers to the breadth and variety of the fraktur collection of the library, located in Pennsburg, Montgomery County. Drawn from this collection of more than one thousand original works-one of the largest collections of fraktur in the United States – Fraktur Writings and Folk Art Drawings of the Schwenkfelder Library Collection features more than two hundred and fifty color photographs of this Pennsylvania German folk art. The Schwenkfelders did not live in isolation in the eigh­teenth and nineteenth centuries, a period during which fraktur was being produced by members of the region’s other denominations, among them German Reformed, Lutheran, and Mennonite. By examining the decorative motifs and style characteristics of those artists, the author shows how the different sects influenced each other’s folk art with borrowed and adapted elements. Most fraktur was created in the schools and Fraktur Writings and Folk Art Drawings analyzes the role of edu­cation in the development of the folk art. The most common practitioners were teachers like Samuel Schultz, and it was in the early schools that the highest quality work was produced. Attesting to this quality are the book’s examples of vorschrift, generally a religious or moral text written in several letter and writing styles followed by examples of upper and lower case alphabets and numerals. This form of fraktur was made by teachers as gifts for their students and the end of the school term to reward and inspire them. While the publication of Fraktur Writings and Folk Art Drawings is significant because it makes available to a broad audience the sheer beauty of this long-lost art form, it also gives scholars, archivists, curators, collectors, and enthusiasts the opportunity to study the Schwenkfelder Library’s holdings and compare these works with others. Along with explanatory narrative, the book features English translation of the German texts, commentaries on specific works, and an overview of the geographical area and religious tradition that spawned these masterpieces of American folk art.