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

Pennsylvania Trail of History Cookbook

By the Editors of Stackpole Books and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
Stackpole Books and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 2004 (127 pages, paper, $19.95)

With recipes provided by the more than two dozen historic sites and museums administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC), the Pennsylvania Trail of History Cookbook is sumptuous fare for readers with an appetite for both history and historic recipes. Recipes are as diverse as the attractions along the Pennsylvania Trail of History they represent: Frukstoppa (Swedish Fruit Soup) from the Morton Homestead, Prospect Park; Cornish Pasties from the Museum of Anthracite Mining, Ashland; Bedford Stew from the Fort Pitt Museum, Pittsburgh; Egg Punch (Eggnog) from Old Economy Village, Ambridge; African Vegetarian Stew from The State Museum of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg; Lothians (Barley Pudding) from Graeme Park, Horsham; and Lumberjack Pancakes from the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum, Galeton. Although many of the recipes are historic and, in some instances, quite unusual, the Pennsylvania Trail of History Cookbook is organized along the familiar lines of traditional cookbooks. Chapters include appetizers, relishes, salads, and pickles; soups; breads; main dishes; vegetables and sides; desserts; and beverages. Readers will dis­cover recipes for foods of the original inhabitants on the edge of the frontier (Native American Butternut Squash Soup), guests of William Penn at Pennsbury, his country seat overlooking the Delaware River (Lamb Pies), sailors aboard the U.S. Brig Nia­gara (Hardtack}, twentieth-century occupants of Hope Lodge (Mrs. Degn’s Spiced Tea), and travelers speeding across the country on the great passenger trains of the last century (Diamond Cheese Biscuits, Chicken Creole Soup, and Lehigh Valley Baked Apple Dish). All recipes have been adapted for the mod­ern kitchen and tested. What gives this cookbook real distinction is a series of brief historical vignettes that discuss a menu for an eighteenth-century harvest dinner, the feeding of Revolutionary War soldiers, disappearing foods (such as pickle­weed, samp, and skillygallee), the importance of shad, dining on the railroad, food preservation, and public houses. In his foreword, award-winning writer and culinary historian William Woys Weaver emphasizes the diversity of the recipes (see “Dishing It Up With William Woys Weaver” by Kyle R.Weaver, Fall 2004). “I cannot think of another place in America,” notes Weaver, “where we can taste the seventeenth-century flavors of a Swedish log cabin, the baroque delights of grand country houses, the steaming simplicity of coal miners’ kitchens, the fare of oil fields, cloisters, or such politically important sites as Washington’s Crossing or Bushy Run Battlefield.” The Pennsylvania Trail of History Cookbook is copiously illustrated with stunning photographs of the PHMC’s historic sites and museums, vintage advertisements and posters, and authentic period table settings. The book complements a series of guidebooks for the stops along the popular and well-traveled Pennsylvania Trail of History, published by Stackpole Books and the PHMC.


Memory’s Daughters: The Material Culture of Remembrance in Eighteenth-Century America

By Susan M. Stabile
Cornell University Press, 2004 (284 pages, cloth, $39.95)

A renowned literary coterie in eighteenth-century Philadelphia – Elizabeth Graeme Fergusson, Hannah Griffits, Deborah Logan, Annis Stockton, and Susanna Wright – wrote and exchanged thousands of poems and maintained elaborate handwritten commonplace books of memorabilia (see “Sharing the Common Wealth,” Winter 2004). Through their creativity and celebrated hospitality, they initiated a salon culture in their great country houses in the Delaware Valley. Memory’s Daughters: The Material Culture of Remembrance in Eighteenth-Century America, highly original and heavily illustrated, shows that these female writers sought to memorialize their lives and aesthetic experiences – a purpose that stands in marked contrast to the civic concerns of male authors in the republican era. Drawing equally on material culture and literary history, the author discusses how the group used their writings to explore and at times replicate the arrangement of their material possessions, including desks, writing paraphernalia, mirrors, miniatures, beds, and coffins. As the book reconstructs the poetics of memory that informed the women’s lives and structured their manuscripts, it focuses on vernacular architecture, penmanship, souvenir collecting, and mourning. Empirically rich and nuanced in its readings of different kinds of artifacts, this engaging work tells of the erasure of women’s lives from the national memory as the feminine aesthetic of scribal publication was overshadowed by the proliferating print culture of late eighteenth-century America.


Capital’s Utopia: Vandergrift, Pennsylvania, 1855-1916

By Anne E. Mosher
The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004 (249 pages, cloth, $45.00)

In the 1890s, the Apollo Iron and Steel Company ended a bitterly contested labor dispute by hiring replacement workers from the countryside surrounding Apollo, in western Arm­strong County. To avoid future unrest, company officials sought to gain tighter control over workers not only at the factory, but also in their homes. Drawing upon a philosophy of reform movements in Europe and the United States, the firm’s management decided that providing employees with decent housing and a good urban environment would make them more loyal, responsive, and productive. In 1895, Apollo Iron and Steel Company erected a new, integrated, non-unionized steelworks and hired the nation’s preeminent landscape architectural firm of Olmsted, Olmsted, and Eliot to design the model industrial town: Vandergrift, in Westmoreland County. Capital’s Utopia: Vandergrift, Pennsylvania, 1855-1916, offers the first comprehensive geographical overview of the industrial restructuring of an American steelworks and its workforce in the late nineteenth century. By thoroughly analyzing the plan pre­sented by Olmsted, Olmsted, and Eliot – a high-profile firm responsible for thousands of commissions throughout the country – the author integrates historical geography and labor history with landscape architectural history and urban studies. Capital’s Utopia is more than a case study, though. It is a window into an important period of industrial development and its consequences on communities and environments in the world-­famous steel region of southwestern Pennsylvania. Described in 1901 by the influential trade journal Iron Age as “The Working­man’s Paradise,” Vandergrift – a relatively understudied company town until publication of Capital’s Utopia – both enjoyed and suffered the visions of willful and, at times, obstinate principals intimately involved in the project: George G. Mc­Murtry (1838-1915), president of the Apollo Iron and Steel Works; Jacob Jay Vandergrift (1827-1899), a powerful director of the company; and John C. Olmsted (1852-1920), a partner in the prestigious firm who ultimately did not want his firm or family even remotely associated with the planned community. The book probes the way in which industrial restructuring occurred historically and geographically in southwestern Pennsylvania’s Kiskiminetas (“Kiski”) Valley and explains many things: the militancy of McMurtry’s workers in Apollo; McMurtry’s agenda of social control at Vandergrift; the reasons why Mc­Murtry hired the Olmsted firm; the vast differences between McMurtry’s agenda and the original Olmsted plan; why Vander­grift’s landscape and social community came to life in ways that McMurtry did not fully anticipate; the disagreements between client and designer throughout the commission; and the important role that Vandergrift’s skilled nonunion steelworkers played in thwarting labor organization in southwestern Pennsylvania in the early twentieth century. Capital’s Utopia: Vandergrift, Pennsylvania, 1855-1916, contains three dozen illustrations, among them vintage photographs, drawings, and maps.


The Soldiers’ Revolution: Pennsylvanians in Arms and the forging of Early American Identity

By Gregory T. Knouff
Penn State Press, 2004 (312 pages, cloth, $45.00)

What did the American Revolution mean to the ordinary soldiers who fought? Were they inspired by high-minded ideals of liberty and democracy, or were they seeking the material and practical rewards – bounties, land, and political advancement – that victory might bring? Students of this period of history know much about the philosophical positions expressed by America’s founding fathers, but the common people did not necessarily share their beliefs. The Soldiers’ Revolution: Pennsylvanians in Arms and the Forging of Early American Identity looks to those in the Commonwealth who took up arms to reveal the rich tapestry of local interests that led a nation to war. Many rank and file revolutionaries left behind records of their experiences – everything from letters and journals to pension applications. These records bring to light the soldiers’ widely ranging ideas and opinions about the war, about themselves, about the enemy, and about the American nation. In Pennsylvania, enlisted men defined their communities through various local interests. This general localism was, ironically, one of the few shared popular Revolutionary ideals. Moreover, the experience of military violence was critical in defining broader ideologies of citizenship that contributed to the concept of an emerging American identity, an identity that privileged white men above Indians, African Americans, and women. Tories, meanwhile, were forced to shed their local perspectives and embrace other ideas in keeping with imperial interests. The Soldiers’ Revolution offers a rare glimpse into the everyday world of the American Revolution, illustrating how the common ex­perience of war drew soldiers together as they began the long process of forging an identity for a fledgling nation.


Steam: The Untold Story of America’s First Great Invention

By Andrea Sutcliffe
Palgrave Macmillan, 2004 (272 pages, cloth, $28.95).

In the summer of 1790, the world’s first commercial steam­boat carried passengers up the Delaware River, from Philadelphia to Trenton, New Jersey. Its inventor was not (as generations of school students have been taught) Robert Fulton (1765-1815) – he wouldn’t launch his steamboat, the Clermont, on the Hudson River for another seventeen years – but a Connecticut silversmith, John Fitch (1743-1798). Three years earlier, Fitch had built the first American steam engine compact and powerful enough to propel a boat, which he mounted on an odd-looking vessel propelled by oars (see “Poor John Fitch, The Inventor Few Remember” by Ian de Silva, Summer 1993). Among the witnesses to his efforts were members of the Constitutional Convention meeting in Philadelphia in 1787. Not long later, Fitch and a rival steamboat inventor, James Rumsey (1743-1792), of Virginia engaged in a bitter fight for patent rights. Their battle led to the first patent act in the United States, one of the first laws of the new republic. In the process, several of the nation’s founders were dragged into the fray, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin. Steam: The Untold Story of America’s Great Invention recounts the two-decade saga of America’s first significant venture in technology, from Fitch to Fulton, and of the forgotten individuals whose perseverance helped propel the young nation forward.