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

The Lincoln Highway

by Brian A. Butko
Stackpole Books, 1996 (321 pages, paper, $16.95)

Established in 1913, the Lincoln Highway became the first automobile roadway to cross the United States. It stretched east from New York’s Tunes Square to San Francisco at a time when rural roads were little more than rutty wagon paths. The Lincoln Highway Association was organized “to procure the establishment of a continuous improved highway from the Atlantic to the Pacific, open to lawful traffic of all description without toll charges … in memory of Abraham Lincoln.” The plan simply linked existing roads into a highway across the country, and organizers hoped local governments would improve their own sections. In Pennsylvania, the Lincoln Highway follows two old paths: the Lancaster Pike in the east and the Forbes Road in the west. The Lincoln Highway often strays from these roads, but it fol­lows their general corridors across the Commonwealth. Billed as a “Pennsylvania Traveler’s Guide,” The Lincoln Highway faithfully traces the entire route through the Keystone State, offering readers an en­tertaining and enlightening trip back through time. The book brims with three hundred black and white period pho­tographs of interesting – if not intriguing – sights along the way: the Airplane Diner in Penndel, the Quaker Lodge Motor Hotel in Ardmore, the Far East Kennels near Columbia, the Cove Mountain Tea Room east of McConnellsburg, the Mountain View Hotel near Greensburg, and the Schenley Park Tourist Camp in Pittsburgh (see “Larger Than Life Along the Lincoln Highway” by Brian A. Butko in the sum­mer 1995 issue of Pennsylvania Heritage). Coupled with friendly, easy to read text (as well as easy to follow directions), this book enables the reader to rediscover the surviving Pennsylvania landmarks that document the birth and evolution of transcontinental transportation. illustrations of vintage postcards, memo­rabilia, souvenirs, and ephemera offer a glimpse of what life was like along the old Lincoln Highway – with its distinctive roadside diners, quirky (and often pecu­liar) attractions, small family businesses, and spectacular scenery. More impor­tantly, this book graphically illustrates how the Lincoln Highway represents a veritable history of twentieth-century America and how its landscape marks the transition from an agrarian to a commer­cial culture, documenting the growth and development of transportation, tourism, service, and technology. The Lincoln Highway is as enjoyable for motorists as it is for armchair travelers.


Killing Time: Leisure and Culture in Southwestern Pennsylvania, 1800-1850

by Scott C. Martin
University of Pittsburgh Press, 1995 (309 pages, cloth, $29.95)

Killing Time: Leisure and Culture in Southwestern Pennsylvania, 1800-1850, ex­amines leisure as a “contested cultural space” in which nineteenth-century Americans articulated and developed ideas about ethnicity, class, gender, and community. Rather than focusing on one class or social group – the working class, for example – Killing Time explores the leisure of the Commonwealth’s south­western counties during a period of rapid and tumultuous change. This new perspective demonstrates how leisure and so­ciability mediated the transition from an agricultural to an industrial society. The book argues persuasively U1at southwest­ern Pennsylvanians used leisure activities to create identities and define values in a society being transformed by market ex­pansion. The transportation revolution, for instance, brought new commercial entertainments and recreational opportu­nities, but also fragmented and privatized customary patterns of commercial leisure. By employing leisure as a window on the rapid changes sweeping through the re­gion during the first half of the nineteenth century, the book shows the ways in which the area’s residents established so­cial identities better suited to their altered circumstances through voluntary associa­tions, private parties, and public gatherings. Southwestern Pennsylvania’s prosperous middle class devised amuse­ments to distinguish themselves from workers who, in turn, resisted reformers’ attempts to constrain their use of free time. Ethnic and racial minorities used holiday observances and traditional cele­brations to define their place in American society, while women tested the bound­aries of the domestic sphere through participation in church fairs, commercial recreation, and various leisure activities. Passages drawn from primary sources, such as letters and diaries, as well as newspapers and books of the period, fur­ther illuminate the cultural history of southwestern Pennsylvania and offer broad insight into perceptions of free time, leisure, and community in ante-bellum America. Killing Time: Leisure and Culture in Southwestern Pennsylvania, 1800-1850, concludes with an epilogue, extensive notes, and exhaustive bibliography.


Oley Valley Heritage: The Colonial Years, 1700-1775

by Philip E. Pendleton
Pennsylvania German Society, 1994 (232 pages, cloth, $50.00)

A groundbreaking model for regional studies of colonial America, Oley Valley Heritage: The Colonial Years, 1700-1775, of­fers a well researched and competently interpreted history of the settlement, eco­nomics, religion, and architecture of this picturesque Berks County valley before the outbreak of the American Revolution. Essentially, the book contends that this valley was, before the Revolutionary War, an “America in miniature,” in which a “patchwork quilt” of ethnic groups­ – Swedes, Germans, Swiss, Welsh and Lenape Indians – lived together as neigh­bors. Oley Valley Heritage opens by tracing the settlement of the region beginning in 1700 with the origin and development of its economy, church life, and early govern­mental institutions. One of the country’s earliest settlements, the Oley Valley is a prime example of the uniquely American : mixture of population and ideals. Settled in the very beginning of the eighteenth century by Swedes who had moved up the Schuylkill River from Philadelphia, then later by Palatines and Swiss, French Huguenots, and English and Welsh Quakers, the larger Oley area (which eventually constituted the colonial period townships of Oley, Amity, and Exeter) soon began the process of adjustment be­tween British Isles and Continental European cultures, along with Lenni Lenapes who remained in the area, and some blacks. During the colonial era, Oley was, indeed, a microcosm of America, bristling with difference but also with ac­commodation. Documentation for Oley Valley Heritage: The Colonial Years, 1700-1775, draws upon nearly every available source, including court and church records, personal papers, correspondence, autobiographies, descriptions by travelers who visited the area, books, and extensive field work and photographs of surviving colonial period farmsteads. Maps of the area made in 1725, 1750, and 1775 docu­ment every surveyed tract and farm, and include the names of the owners, as well as the locations of churches, taverns, mills, roads, creeks, and rivers. Numerous ap­pendices address the Oley Valley’s colonial era schools, ministers and preach­ers, government officials, buildings and structures, heads of households, township maps, styles of architecture, and architec­tural terms.


Amongst My Best Men: African­-Americans and the War of 1812

by Gerald T. Altoff
The Perry Group, 1996 (181 pages, paper, $9.95)

The War of 1812 is one of the least known and, perhaps, most misunderstood military endeavors mounted on American soil. The complex campaigns, complicated strategies, and intricate maneuvers are dif­ficult enough to chronicle, so it comes as little surprise that the role of African Americans – soldiers, sailors, and civil­ians – in the war remains unknown to many. Although this book is not intended to be an exhaustively researched, all-en­compassing, authoritative social or military history of black participation in the War of 1812 , its purpose is to acknowl­edge that African Americans played a much greater role in the War of 1812 than most people know or suspect, and it places that role in context by providing a concise, capsulized history of the war’s campaigns. Black recruits were not accepted into the U.S. Army at the outbreak of the War of 1812, and when the ranks were finally opened, black soldiers were incorporated into regular regiments beside white troops, where their racial identity went un­recorded. Large numbers of black sailors served in the U.S. Navy, and crews man­ning the small, crowded vessels were integrated; officers who compiled the ship and station muster rolls did not differenti­ate between black and white seaman. Of particular interest to students of Pennsylvania history is the author’s dis­cussion of the Battle of Lake Erie on September 10, 1813, during – which Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry (1785-1819) transferred from his stately flagship, the Lawrence, to the U.S. Brig Niagara and hoisted his battle flag emblazoned with the immortal words, “Dont Give Up The Ship.” Perry broke the chaotic British battle line, hurled broadsides from the Niagara, and forced the entire enemy squadron to capitulate. He praised his victorious black seamen to Commodore Isaac Chauncey, who in turn wrote, “Perry speaks highly of the bravery and good conduct of the ne­groes, who formed a considerable part of his crew.” The author offers glimpses of several of these African American sailors, but notes that few have been identified. He does estimate that between ten and twenty percent of the sailors aboard the Lake Erie squadron were black. Amongst My Best Men: African-Americans and the War of 1812 continues with broader discussions of the roles of blacks by dividing its focus into two parts: naval operations and land oper­ations. Each part is further segmented by major categories and theaters of opera­tions. For instance, chapters in the naval operations section include “Free Trade and Sailors’ Rights,” ”The Merchant and Whaling Service,” “The Blue Water Navy, 1812-1813,” “Privateers,” and “The Inland Seas,” while the land operations segment features “The Road to War,” “Western Lake Erie and the Old Northwest,” and “The Niagara Region and Lake Ontario.” The book contains several maps and exten­sive endnotes. Its title is drawn from a letter written by Chauncey, aboard the General Pike, to Perry on July 30, 1813: ” … I have yet to learn that the Colour of the skin, or cut and trimmings of the coat, can effect a man’s qualifications or usefulness. I have nearly 50 Blacks on board of this Ship, and many of them are amongst my best men …. ”