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

Guide to Pennsylvania Troops at Gettysburg

By Richard Rollins and David Shultz
Rank and File Publications, 1998 (106 pages, paper, $17.95)

The Battle of Gettysburg was the nation’s most fierce military engagement. Pennsylvania alone dispatched well more than twenty-four thousand men to the epic onslaught, waged the first three days of July 1863, that resulted in more than fifty-one thousand killed, wounded, and missing. The Keystone State suffered seven hundred and forty-one fatalities, of which five hundred and twenty-eight are buried in the Soldiers National Cemetery (see “An Admirable and Befitting Arrangement: The Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg” by Jeffrey S. Anderson, Spring 1997), which was dedi­cated four months later, on November 19 (see “A New Birth of Freedom” by William C. Kashatus in the fall 1999 issue). To help understand the enormity of the battle, the participation of Pennsylvanians, and the casualties suffered, Guide to Pennsylvania Troops at Gettysburg offers a simple yet comprehensive profile that gives the reader a basic introduction to each unit that fought at Gettysburg, accompanied by maps and photographs. The book is designed to help readers – but specially visitors to the battlefield – follow the paths of individuals, be they officers or enlisted men, and the units in which they served. Guide to Pennsylvania Troops at Gettysburg is divided chronologically, one chapter devoted to each of the three days of battle. Each chapter opens with a map showing the location of the unit’s participation; the map includes major landmarks and the sites of monuments, erected between 1880 and 1913 to honor the units. Photographs of monuments are intended to assist the reader identify specific areas in which the action took place. Guide contains a plethora of information, such as the history and designation of each unit; its place in the chain of command; where the men lived when they signed up; names of its leaders; its strength and losses; and the weapons it used. Some of the more interesting components of this book are the stories of the units’ experiences told through the eyes of their officers in post-battle accounts. Guide to Pennsylvania Troops at Gettysburg closes with a roster of Pennsylvania soldiers awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.


Chronicle of a Pittsburgh Family

By Evelyn Bitner Pearson
Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation, 1999 (152 pages, paper, $8.95)

Every person has a story to tell, and in Chronicle of a Pittsburgh Family Evelyn Bitner Pearson tells hers. Born in 1910, she recalls the details of a rapidly disappearing past through the experiences of her family, living in Pittsburgh and elsewhere. The author’s graceful, lively account of her family actually begins with the second chapter, which she opens with an introduction to her grandfather, Henry Franklin Bitner, born in 1853 on a farm near Spring Mills, Centre County, and her father, Henry (“Harry”) Murray Bitner, born in Kutztown, Berks County, in 1883. The real story, however, begins with her own recollections of life in western Pennsylvania, first in Aspinwall, a small town on the Allegheny River, and later in Pittsburgh. Her earliest memories, naturally, are of typical childhood activities, but the real thrust of Chronicle of a Pittsburgh Family accelerates with the opening of the 1930s. Her recall is tremendous. She remembers early days in the Schenley Apartments in the city’s Oakland section; a fine house in Squirrel Hill, designed in 1922 by architect Frederick Scheibler; and a house in Penfield Court, near Frick Park. Even more telling are the events and incidents that shaped her – and America’s – way of life: the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the decline of the steel industry, the emergence of an upwardly mobile middle class, the growing prevalence of divorce, and the raising of children and grandchildren in a changing, new world. Chronicle of n Pittsburgh Family is a bittersweet memoir, one crammed with intimate details but one that transcends the ordinary. It is a book of dreams and disappointments, of love found and Jove lost, and of hope that springs eternal.


The World of Francis Cooper, Nineteenth-Century Photographer

By Jay Ruby
Penn State University Press, 1999 (266 pages, cloth, $60.00)

Francis Cooper (1874-1944) created an extraordinary body of photographic work in a remarkably brief period. During this time, from 1896 to 1901, the Philadelphia native was a medical student at the University of Pennsylvania. He was part of the country’s middle class that flourished in the Gilded Age, the last quarter of the nineteenth century, when the major elements of twentieth-century America were forged. Historian Henry Steele Commager called the 1890s the decade that divided America between the past and the present. It was also a time during which modern photographic practices were defined. Cooper’s sufficient means allowed him to indulge in several pastimes, including competitive shooting, bicycling, and photography. He traveled through the Pennsylvania countryside to hunt, fish, bicycle, court Gertrude Crawford of McCaysville, Ju­niata County, whom he married in 1899, and photograph landscapes, genre farm scenes, and the spoils of his hunts. In Philadelphia, he took snapshots of his family, and of his friends and colleagues, as well as candid and genre studies of the romance and allure of city life. Largely confined to the five-year period, Cooper’s work exhibits several photographic styles and practices, from landscapes clearly attributable to the naturalis­tic school to pictorialist cityscapes. The World of Francis Cooper represents a social approach to photographic history and argues for a cultural understanding of photography as social practice. The book, also a biographical exploration of Cooper, offers an unusual perspective on turn-of-the-century American photography by examining the oeuvre of a largely unknown avocational photographer.


Rum Punch Revolution: Tavern-Going and Public Life in Eighteenth-Century Philadelphia

By Peter Thompson
University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999 (296 pages, cloth, $42.50; paper, $18.50)

This delightful account of Philadelphia and its love affair with taverns and tavern-going is set during the city’s first one hundred years, to the end of the American Revolution. Soon after the first Quaker settlers’ arrival in the Delaware Valley, two taverns – dug into the riverbank – were doing business. By 1756, there were one hundred and one licensed taverns in operation, testament to the peculiar attraction taverns held for colonial Philadelphians, who produced them at a rate that far outstripped the increase in the city’s population. Whatever the reasons, taverns in Colonial Philadelphia encouraged a distinctive kind of sociability. Within their cramped confines an inevitable chemistry of discussion and argument occurred, often bringing: about changes in attitudes, assumptions, and behaviors. Fascination with the public world, exemplified in the widespread popularity of tavern-going, can be seen at its most paradoxical in Philadelphia. The Quaker city counted among its population some of the most private, inwardly directed sec­tarians in the Atlantic world. Yet even intensely private settlers felt the need to demonstrate something of the quality of their beliefs to a wider world through distinctive patterns of speech, clothing, and behavior. Quakers, for example, drank and con­versed in taverns, even though in these cramped houses they found little respect for their sense of privacy. Despite the ongoing conflicts, contests, and even drunken encounters of tavern life, colonial Philadelphians kept returning to the tavern because they believed that speech and behavior in public houses provided vitally important indicators of a man’s character and opinions. Moreover, the influence of taverns was recognized by journalists of the day, who made sure that pamphlets and newspaper features mirrored tavern speech precisely in order to sway a readership that continued to hold oral discourse in high regard. Thompson cites an apt description given by historian David Weir Conroy: “Taverns became a public stage upon which colonists resisted, initiated, and addressed changes in their society. indeed, in these houses men gradually redefined their relationships with figures of authority.” Rum Punch Revo­lution is a welcome addition to the great body of Colonial period scholarship with its clear, insightful view of the tavern life and its political and social ramifications for the birthplace of the United States.


Muscletown USA: Bob Hoffman and the Manly Culture of York Barbell

By John D. Fair
Penn State University Press, 1999 (420 pages; $65.00, cloth; $23.50, paper)

For a half-century, from the 1930s through the 1980s, the undisputed capital of weightlifting in America was York, Pennsylvania, the home of the York Barbell Company (see “America’s Mecca for Muscle Builders” by John D. Fair, Spring 1999). Bob Hoffman (1898-1985), the founder of York Barbell, propagated an ideology of success for Americans seeking physical improvement. Often called the “Father of World Weightlifting,” Hoffman was a pioneer in marketing both bar­bells and health foods, particularly protein supplements. He popularized weight training and inaugurated a golden age of American weightlifting. As visionary as he was irrepressible, he also promoted exercise therapy for convalescent and geriatric patients, women’s weightlifting, isometrics, even anabolic steroids. Hoffman was the only individual to realize financial success and worldwide fame strictly from weightlifting. He went on to befriend President Richard M. Nixon, sponsor championships, and publish a magazine, Strength & Health. Muscletown USA – part biography, part business history, and part sports history – chronicles how Bob Hoffman made York Barbell Company the mecca of many culture for millions of followers worldwide. Meticulously researched and engagingly written, the book will appeal to a wide range of readers, including anyone fascinated by American sports history and the iron game. Muscletown USA features dozens of vintage photographs and extensive chapter notes.