Currents

To Be Modern In 1921, Philadelphia’s venerable Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts mounted the first comprehensive display of American modernist works in an American museum with the ground­breaking “Exhibition of Paintings and Drawings Showing the Later Tendencies in Art.” The exhibition’s selection com­mittee, composed of such “moderns” as Thomas Hart...
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Executive Director’s Message

“Do not think of the Pennsylvania Railroad as a business enterprise. Think of it as a nation.” Even if we allow for such a hyperbole – in this case by a writer in the May 1936 edition of Fortune Magazine – it is difficult to escape the conclusion that the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) – or “the Pennsy” as it was seemingly known to all – dominated...
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Bookshelf

Stoneware of Southwestern Pennsylvania by Phil Schaltenbrand University of Pittsburgh Press, 1996 (216 pages, paper, $22.95) A greatly expanded version of the author’s Old Pots (1978), Stoneware of Southwestern Pennsylvania describes the salt-glazed stoneware industry that once flourished in the Monongahela and Youghiogheny Valleys and contains much new information about the remarkable...
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Spalding Memorial Library – Tioga Point Museum

The Spalding Memorial Library-Tioga Point Mu­seum, in Athens, Bradford County, is an important civic building designed by architect Albert Hamilton Kipp (1850-1906) in the Colonial Revival and Classical Revival styles. Kipp studied with James Renwick, architect of New York’s Saint Patrick’s Cathedral and the Smithsonian Institution’s “Castle” in Washington, D.C....
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Currents

Railroading with Rau The Pennsylvania Railroad Company (PRR) was not yet a half-century old when it commissioned William H. Rau (1855-1920) to tackle the enormous task of photographically documenting its extensive rail lines. So extraordinarily successful was the Pennsy that by the time Rau commenced his work in 1891, the railroad was the largest corporation in the country and claimed more than...
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King Pearl L. Bergoff Invades McKees Rocks!

On Monday, July 12, 1909, one of the bloodiest labor disputes of the early twentieth century broke out at the sprawling works of the Pressed Steel Car Company in McKees Rocks, Allegheny County. Located on the Ohio River several miles northwest of center-city Pittsburgh, the company employed hundreds of skilled workers, all of American-born descent, and thousands of unskilled first-and...
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The 1948 Donora Smog

As early as 1881, the cities of Chicago, Illinois, and Cincinnati, Ohio, had passed laws in attempts to control several types of pollution. Air pollution, however, remained an uncontrolled, unrecognized health hazard until tragedies in the twentieth century demonstrated its lethal effects. In 1930, smog covering the Meuse River Valley in Belgium sent sixty people to their graves, and in 1952...
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Milwaukee Iron, Pennsylvania Style

What takes two and a half hours to make, costs at least sixteen thousand dollars to purchase, is assembled in a former military and bowling equipment facility in York, Pennsylvania, and bears the nick­name “Milwaukee Iron”? “What” is a motorcycle. More precisely, a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Created in 1903 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and revered as the quintessential...
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Torchere by L. Straus and Sons

Eight years after it dazzled visitors to the 1893 World’s Columbia Exposition in Chicago, a magnificent torchere created by L. Straus and Sons, New York, was purchased by Pennsylvania candymaker Milton S. Hershey (1857-1945). The electric torch – with nearly fourteen hundred separate pieces – was the largest composite article in cut glass produced to that time. Crafted by some...
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Violence and Vigilantes: The KKK in Pennsylvania

It was a warm, muggy day in early August 1921 in Philadelphia when F. W. Atkins of Jacksonville, Florida, and W. J. Bellamy of Cincinnati, Ohio, rented an office in the Bellevue Court Building to quietly recruit members for “a great and patriotic crusade to save the nation.” Their goal was to organize a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). Posing as a prospective KKK initiate, a...
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