Bookshelf

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

Out of the Crucible: Black Steelworkers in Western Pennsylvania, 1875-1980
by Dennis C. Dickerson
State University of New York Press, 1986 (323 pages, cloth, $44.50)

This volume in the State University of New York’s series of Afro-American studies examines in depth the century-long struggle of Black laborers in the iron and steel industry of western Pennsylva­nia. In the process it shows how the fate of these Black workers mirrors the contempo­rary predicament of the Black working class and the develop­ment of a chronically unem­ployed underclass in America’s declining industrial centers. The author argues that persist­ent racial discrimination within heavy industry and the decline of major industries during the 1970s are key to understanding the social and economic situation of twentieth century urban Blacks. Through a rich blend of histor­ical research and contempo­rary interviews, Out of the Crucible chronicles the struggle of Black steelworkers to gain equality in the industry and the setbacks suffered as Amer­ican steelmaking succumbed to foreign competition and antiquated modes of produc­tion. The plight of western Pennsylvania’s Black steel­workers reflects that of Black laborers in Chicago, Gary, Detroit, Cleveland, Youngs­town, Birmingham, and other major American cities where heavy, labor-intensive industry once flourished.

 

Drawing Toward Building: Philadelphia Architectural Graphics, 1732-1986
by Jeffrey A. Cohen, George E. Thomas and G. Holmes Perkins
University of Pennsyl­vania Press, 1986 (295 pages, paper, $29.95)

Published in conjunction with a major exhibition orga­nized by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAPA) and the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Insti­tute of Architects (AIA), and shown at the Academy last year, this liberally illustrated book is a comprehensive sur­vey of the drawing styles and techniques used in American architecture during the last two and a half centuries. It focuses on the drawings and sketches of prominent Phila­delphia architects to trace the history and development of architectural renderings and the various forms they took. The catalogue presents a broad cross section of designers and projects, from the famous and well documented to the lesser known, from the private do­mestic form to the major pub­lic commission or city plan. Showcased in Drawing Toward Building are architects who worked primarily in Philadel­phia or who spent their forma­tive stages there, although the projects represented were not restricted to the city. Familiar views – often popular commer­cially produced lithographs­ – are balanced with numerous examples never before pub­lished. Introductory essays to each period are followed by representative works of impor­tant architects of the era. The book includes biographies of each architect, illustrations of their working drawings and, for many entries, actual photo­graphs of the completed pro­ject. Drawing Toward Building is, in addition to serving as a record of the evolution of Phil­adelphia’s architectural graph­ics, a celebration of those drawings, watercolors and renderings as objects of art, in and of themselves and not primarily as means to an end.

 

To Form a More Perfect Union: The Federal Constitution and Pennsylvania
by Paul E. Doutrich
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1986 (20 pages, paper, $1.00)

Pennsylvania – more than any of the thirteen original states – played the pivotal role in the writing and eventual adoption of the landmark Constitution of the United States. Its largest city, Philadel­phia, was the logical site for the convention because of its central location but, more importantly, for its role as the seat of the national govern­ment for twelve years. Pennsylvania delegates Benjamin Franklin, Gouverneur Morris and James Wilson were princi­pal actors in negotiating diffi­cult compromises and resolving the conflicting inter­ests of the various states throughout the drafting of the landmark document. In To Form A More Perfect Union, the author (whose related article, “The Call For The Constitu­tion,” appears in the spring 1987 issue) addresses the evolution of Pennsylvania’s early contribu­tions to the creation of the national Constitution, begin­ning with the colony’s first charter in 1682, the Charter of Liberties. Pennsylvania’s con­tributions are followed by discussions of early attempts at uniting state governments, and succinct descriptions of the development of the Artic­les of Confederation, the Con­stitutional Convention,the later debates and the ratifica­tion of the document in Pennsylvania. To Form A More Perfect Union is an excellent source for both students and scholars interested in Pennsylvania’s role in the formation and adoption of the Constitution.