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

Guide to Genealogical Sources at the Pennsylvania State Archives

by Robert M. Dructor
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1998 (374 pages, paper, $12.95)

The Pennsylvania State Archives acquires, preserves, and makes available for study the valuable public records of the Commonwealth, with particular attention given to the official records of state government. In fulfilling its general responsibility for the preservation of historic documents, the State Archives also acquires and preserves private papers relevant to Pennsylvania’s history. Guide to Genealogical Sources at the Pennsylvania State Archives is an invaluable research tool not only for genealogists and family historians, but for students and schol­ars of the Keystone State’s broad history and rich culture. Since its creation nearly a century ago, the State Archives has collected and catalogued records created by agencies or officers of the Commonwealth and its subdivisions (known as record groups, or RGs), and personal papers, nongovernmental records, and histor­ical manuscripts, called manuscript groups (or MGs). Users of the State Archives – seventy percent of whom are genealogists – ­will find invaluable information among record groups “Civil War Service and Pension Accounts, 1861-1873” (RG-2), “Mexican Border Campaign Veterans’ Card File, 1916-1917” (RC-19), and “Maritime Records for the Port of Philadelphia, 1766-1937” (RG-13). Although county records are maintained at county courthouses, the Stale Archives has microfilms of many docu­ments (RG-47), including indices to birth and death registers, probate accounts, tax lists, wills, deeds, marriage license dockets, and naturalization papers. Manuscript groups contain records, documents, and papers of prominent individuals and families, business enterprises, and social, cultural, political, military, and religious organizations, such as “Tulpehocken Church, Stouchsburg (Berks County), Christening Record, 1762-1848” (MG-3), “Records of the Pennsylvania Society of Sons of the American Revolution (PASSAR), ca. 1901-1978” (MG-370), “Pennsylvania Railroad Company Records, 1847-1968” (MG-286), “Reformed Church of Lancaster Records, 1736-1947” (MG-262), “Land Records of the Erie Railroad Company, 1847- 1914” (MG-300), and “Real Estate Trust Company of Philadelphia (RETCO) Records, 1861-1963” (MG-338). This book thoughtfully describes these collections, offering thumbnail sketches of the types of information that each includes. Many record and manuscript groups contain photographs; the State Archives holds more than three hundred and fifty thousand vintage and older images! The holdings of Pennsylvania State Archives are staggering – fifty-five thousand cubic feet of bound manuscripts and paper files (or one hundred and sixty-five million pages of paper), seventeen thousand rolls of microfilm con­taining more than twenty-five million images of official documents, and thousands of maps and drawings – and Guide to Genealogical Sources at the Pennsylvania State Archives is an intelli­gently written, easy-to-use, and well organized directory of the collections helpful to genealogists and researchers in general.


American Bandstand: Dick Clark and the Making of a Rock ‘n’ Roll Empire

by John A. Jackson
Oxford University Press, 1997 (336 pages, cloth, $27.50)

The advent of rock ‘n’ roll, a music drawn from the minority genres of blues, rhythm and blues, hillbilly, and country and western, was an integral part of America’s pop culture boom, which coincided with the development of network television. It was network television and, specifically, the teenage dance show American Bandstand – which made its debut in Philadelphia in 1952 as Bandstand, adding American when the program went na­tional five years later – that ultimately legitimized what was viewed by most adults as vulgar, low-class music. One man, Dick Clark, was responsible for making American Bandstand enor­mously successful (see “Sparking a Rock ‘n’ Roll Revolution: An Interview with Dick Clark,” by William C. Kashatus in the summer 1998 issue). This is the story of Clark’s reign over American Bandstand for nearly four decades and how he gracefully sold rock ‘n’ roll to the American public better than anyone before or since. Based on ex­tensive interviews with music industry figures, television producers, recording stars, and Clark himself, and featuring dozens of rare or never-before-published photographs, the book shows how American Bandstand managed to survive countless revolutions in popular music. It retells the glory days when an appearance on American Bandstand was one of the most prized gigs in the music business and when teenagers lined up for blocks on Market Street in West Philadelphia, hoping to enter the sacred sanctum of WFIL-TV’s Studio B. It also recounts early Philadelphia appearances by Chubby Checker, Frankie Avalon, Danny and the Juniors, Bobby Rydell, Fabian, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Freddy Cannon, Annette Funicello (sans mouse ears), and the Five Satins before the show moved to the West Coast in 1964. The author offers a detailed view of how Clark cre­ated an entertainment empire worth well more than two hundred million dollars today. A fascinating (and at times intense) look at an American institution and the ambitious promoter at its helm, American Bandstand: Dick Clark and the Making of a Rock ‘n’ Roll Empire chronicles the meteoric rise of the the music and the man. As Clark has said of himself, “I don’t make culture, I sell it.”


Pittsburgh Revealed: Photographs Since 1850

Linda Benedict-Jones et al.
Carnegie Museum of Art, 1997 (210 pages, paper, $39.95)

“Glass, coal, oil, and steel,” writes Richard Armstrong in the book’s foreword, “made Pittsburgh prosperous, filthy, and pho­togenic.” These aspects of Pittsburgh, and many more, find powerful expression in the more than one hundred photographs selected for this book from the Carnegie Museum of Art’s recent exhibition by the same title. The people, the places, the life, and the vigor of Pittsburgh are forcefully present in this beautifully achieved testament to a city. In her introductory essay, Pittsburgh writer Jan Beatty notes, “Pittsburgh is about basic human values: self-respect, self-reliance, community, honesty, hard work.” She goes on to recall the reaction of a friend’s father when, as a young girl, she had remarked: “Look at aU that smoke. These mills are so dirty.” “When that smoke stops coming-that’s when you worry,” replied the father. “That’s good smoke-that means men are working.” Pittsburgh may be a series of such complex contradictions, but many things about their city seem perfectly clear to those who live there: the magical quality of its conjunction of hills and bridges, rivers and mills, of energy, of reaching, of the natural world meeting the industrial; the birds against the immense mills. “This is where,” declares Beatty, “I can get out a jackhammer and bust it open, I can reimagine my own life.” Whether it reveals the geometric beauty of factory buildings, as in a 1941 photograph by Edward Weston entitled Pittsburgh, or leisurely pursuits, such as an image of young chil­dren of an evidently affluent city family being read to on a lawn, captured by Charles Hart Spencer in 1901 – each page of this magnificent collection is a treasure that fosters a rekindling of imagination and recalls the power of familiar patterns of space and the “landscape of the ordinary.” Readers will find many fa­miliar names represented in this book, among them W. Eugene Smith, Margaret Bourke-White, Frederick Gutekunst, Charles “Teenie ” Harris, and Lewis Hine. Pittsburgh Revealed: Photographs Since 1850 is a sumptuous selection of portraits of a city at work and at play and is a “must ” for those who visited the exhibition and, especially, for those who did not enjoy such good fortune.


Memoirs of a Steelworker

by David Kuchta
National Canal Museum, 1995 (117 pages, paper, $12.95)

For forty years, from 1952 through 1992, David Kuchta was a blue collar worker at the home plant of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation in Bethlehem, Northampton County. He knew every building and structure in the sprawling steel mill complex and worked countless jobs there – carpenter, rigger, pouring concrete with the labor gang. He drove from his home in Lansford in the coal regions fifty miles to the north every day for four decades and claims he would do it again. The “Grand Old Lady ” of the steel industry, as Kuchta and fellow workers called the colossal mill, was for many young men (and eventually women) in the Lehigh Valley the primary place to look for work. David Kuchta was no exception. He never questioned that this was where he belonged. After his retirement, discovering not only a natural writing ability, but the gift of full recall, he wrote this intimate and telling account of what it was like to work in a steel mill. Only through a personal story such as Memoirs of a Steelworker can an entire, viscerally felt world be created. Kuchta’s firsthand description of a blast furnace is sheer eloquence: “The red-hot molten metal flows by gravity through the vast array of runners or troughs of fire-clay and sand …. As dangerous as it looks there is something mystifying and foreboding about this whole process. The reds and yellows of the hot molten metal seem to dance … to cast a hypnotic spell over those who stare and watch …. ” In another passage, he ponders the forces that motivated him. “Some of the jobs on the open hearth furnace rebuilds were like coming face to face with hell itself …. When I think back, maybe we worked like this for pride. Pride in accomplish­ment.” For a final dedication, Kuchta addresses the mill directly: “I do thank you, ‘Dear Lady’ for giving me and all your employ­ees the opportunity of serving you, to grow old with you … and for the opportunity of living a good life.” In the end, it is this “good life ” of the steelworker – despite its hardships and the heartbreaking closing of most plant operations – that is cele­brated in the words and photographs of this stirring book.