Bookshelf

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

Delaware and Lehigh Canals

by Ann Batholo­mew, compiler
Hugh Moore Historical Park and Museums, 1989 (158 pages, cloth, $28.00)

More than three hundred photographs of two of the most important canals in Penn­sylvania’s history offer an exciting visual odyssey through time and through Bucks, Northampton, Lehigh, Carbon and Luzerne counties. Selected from the extensive holdings of the Hugh Moore Historical Park and Museums, the vintage images – some of which have never before been published – include rare scenes of Allentown, Bristol, New Hope, Easton, Bethlehem, Catasauqua and Mauch Chunk (now Jim Thorpe). Photo­graphs of New Jersey’s Dela­ware and Raritan and Morris canals, which connected with the Delaware Canal, are in­cluded, as are views of Carbon County’s famous Switchback Railroad. The book even fea­tures photographs made along the Delaware Canal by the brilliant art glass creator and designer, Louis Comfort Tif­fany, whose boating party plied the waters for several days in the late nineteenth century aboard an old con­verted scow, christened the Molly-Polly-Chunker. Meaning­ful introductory essays, fact­-filled captions and historical and contemporary maps place the Delaware and Lehigh canals in historical perspective and emphasize the signifi­cance of the waterways in the evolution of industrial America.

 

Indiana County: 175th Anniversary History, 1866-1988

by Clarence D. Stephenson
A. G. Halldin Publishing Company, 1989 (809 pages, cloth, $32.50)

The second volume of a four part series, this commem­orative edition covers the his­tory of Indiana County from the end of the Civil War in 1866 to the present. The author arranged the narrative of this volume chronologically in sections called chronicles, in which major topics are dis­cussed, such as transportation, politics, military history, edu­cation, agriculture, the anti­slavery movement, rural life and the Great Depression. In many instances, the book offers seminal data on individ­uals, institutions and events which contributed to the coun­ty’s diverse heritage. For exam­ple, in the chapter devoted to commercial activity, Indiana County provides information on merchants, economic con­ditions, insurance, inventors and inventions, real estate and domestic or “cottage” indus­tries. Organized and written in a traditional style, the text is detailed with numerous dates and welcome “behind-the-­scenes” vignettes and telling scenarios. Indiana County is accompanied by a 117-page paperbound book of source notes.

 

The Amish Quilt

by Eve Wheatcroft Granick
Good Books, 1989 (192 pages, cloth, $45.00)

The Amish Quilt is celebra­tion of one of the most popular Amish textile traditions, once known only to its community and now avidly collected – if not coveted – by collectors throughout the cow1try. Through insightful interviews with Amish families, com­bined with in-depth research, the author provides a back­ground for these colorful quilts, including the sources for patterns, the uses of colors and the variations of practices in different Amish settle­ments. The book also exam­ines such topics as Amish history and beliefs, as well as the role of quiltmaking in the lives of Amish women. The Amish Quilt proves beyond a doubt – and with many stun­ning color photographs – that the quilts made by the Amish between 1875 and 1950 repre­sent a unique achievement in American quiltmaking. The work of a small and insulated group of women, these textiles are an undeniable expression of both personal and group sensibilities about the use of color and design. In fact, their creation and use in the home are part of a way of life that centers on simplicity and places a high value on symbol­ism. The author also contends that the Amish are not ascet­ics, as they value well-made objects and find great satisfac­tion in the creation of useful and decorative works; how­ever, they believe that their enjoyment of the material world must be weighed against the larger claims of their religious faith. Above all else, the book presents a sam­pling of exquisite quilts, along with their stories and a per­spective on the communities and eras from which they come. The Amish Quilt is illus­trated by nearly 150 color pho­tographs of quilts and related artifacts, plus charts, inventory lists and old newspaper adver­tisements.

 

The Triumph of the American Spirit: Johnstown, Pennsylvania

by Howard Munson
Johnstown Flood Museum and the Ameri­can Association for State and Local History Library, 1989 (160 pages, cloth, $32.95)

Published to coincide with the commemoration of the tragic 1889 flood in Johnstown, this book recounts the history of the community and its evo­lution from a canal town to the city it has become. The story of Johnstown is not only well known in the annals of the nation’s history, but it is one that touches something deep within the American spirit. As the flood waters receded from the western Pennsylvania steel town a century ago, leaving more than two thousand dead in its wake, brave voices could be heard calling for the steel mills, factories and houses to be rebuilt. This same spirit has triumphed time and time again as the people of Johns­town have faced and overcome both natural disasters and Uw upheavals caused by hard times, world wars and the demise of the steel industry – ­its economic lifeblood. Elo­quent prose and evocative historical and contemporary photographs recount the saga of one town’s survival against the sometimes overwhelming odds, and celebrates the val­ues common to the Johns­towns throughout the United States: hard work, family, ethnic and religious heritage, a belief in the future and a will­ingness to adjust to the cir­cumstances of the present. The Triumph of the American Spirit is a testimonial to Johnstown’s residents, both past and present, who courageously rebuilt a devastated commu­nity, as well as shattered lives.

 

The An­nual Exhibition Record of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 1876-1913

by Peter Hastings Falk, editor
Sound View Press, 1989 (612 pages, cloth, $89.00)

This volume is a multi­-indexed record of more than twenty thousand works of art exhibited during nearly four decades at the venerable Phila­delphia institution, which played a crucial role in the development of American art during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Pennsylvania Academy’s presti­gious annual exhibitions, drawing entries from through­out the country, influenced American taste by providing opportunities for many of the best artists of the day to dis­play their work. Among the scores of artists who partici­pated in these exhibits were Cecilia Beaux, John Singer Sargent, Frank Duveneck, Thomas Eakins, Edmund Tarbell, William Merrit Chase, William Inness, Robert Henri and George Bellows. The An­nual Exhibition Record is an important primary resource for scholars, collectors, students and dealers of American art interested in documenting the existence of a work, placing a work in the context of an art­ist’s career, or providing infor­mation concerning previous ownership to establish a work’s provenance. The book is especially important for the examination of artistic and cultural developments in American art spanning from the beginning of impression­ism to the rise of early mod­ernism. It is cross-indexed by artist, portrait and landscape subject, lender, medal and prize winners, and catalogue advertisers. Entries include full names, birth and death dates, addresses, owners, prices and titles. The An­nual Exhibition Record also contains illustrations of selected works of art, advertisements, exhibi­tion catalogues and related ephemera.

 

The Twentieth Century History of Beaver County, Pennsylvania, 1900-1988

by Cheryl Weller Beck, editor
Beaver County Historical Research and Land­marks Foundation, 1989 (644 pages, cloth, $50.00)

The first major history of Beaver County since the publi­cation of Joseph H. Bausman’s History of Beaver County, Pennsylvania, and its Centennial Celebration in 1904, this study details the significant trends that have influenced the pro­gress and development of the county since the turn-of-the­-century. Factual data, photo­graphs representative of trends analyzed, drawings, maps, diagrams, sketches, appendi­ces, notes and an index accom­pany the colorful and insightful depiction of an era of change for this county and its people. Researched and written by a team of seventeen writers, The Twentieth Century History explores the last eight decades of local history and includes chapters devoted to population and ethnicity, transportation, banking and finance, industry, the military, education, sports and a host of similar topics. In many cases, researchers relied on inter­views with individuals who took part in activities and events which shaped county history. These recollections yield a distinctive local color often neglected by contempo­rary historians. Many chapters – in order to impart an appreciation of Beaver County’s first one hundred years – discuss its early history and offer information about its origins and developments through the nineteenth cen­tury.

 

Philadelphia Politics From the Bottom Up

by Harry C. Silcox
The Balch institute Press, 1989 (175 pages, cloth, $29.50)

Subtitled The Life of Irishman William McMullen, 1824-1901, this book portrays the political career of the colorful Philadel­phia politician who repre­sented the poorest Irish section of the city during the nineteenth century. McMul­len’s relationship with Samuel Randall, a powerful and influ­ential leader known nationally, adds a dimension that is often overlooked in political studies: the network of political linkage and connections that stretches from the seats of national power down to the violence on the streets of a local commu­nity. Such politics at the bot­tom half of the social structure is brought to light by individ­uals Like William McMullen, a fiercely independent and self­-styled “Robin Hood,” who began his career as a volunteer for the Moyamensing Hose Company in South Philadel­phia. Arrested several times as a result of his forceful (and borderline illegal) street activi­ties, he eventually became a lifelong elected official and a hero to his constituents. With a leadership based on force, charisma and physical strength, the aggressive Mc­Mullen vaulted to the attention of Democrats, who used his talents for political gain. With an ideology based on the belief that Jacksonian Democracy was the most effective means of preserving local control, McMullen battled against intrusions from outside his community. Throughout his lifetime, he employed a strat­egy formed by the power gained through his positions as a local leader of volunteer firemen, prison inspector, alderman and city councilman. His use of racial issues­ – important in a city with a large black population – became central to McMullen’s political power matrix. William McMul­len’s entire life exemplified the character and attributes of tose individuals who served as lifetime politicians, thanks to a basic understanding of how politics worked, an adapt­ability to changing urban insti­tutions and conditions, and a keen awareness of the pulse­-beat of power structures within the community. As an adventurous and controversial figure, William McMullen touched many of Philadel­phia’s most notable events and personages – and this study offers a view of those circum­stances and people, as well as of the city, “from the bottom up” and through the eyes of one who rose from its grimy depths.