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

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts: 200 Years of Excellence

Edited by Jane Watkins
2005 (312 pages; cloth, $80.00; paper, $60.00)

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts: 200 Years of Excellence is difficult to summarize without relying on superlatives to describe its richness in both text and illustration. The hefty volume is elegantly designed, brimming with color and insightful narrative. Pages – which can be considered exhibition panels – each contain one image, giving readers a virtual tour of the venerable institution’s magnificent collections. Works by American masters – among them Jasper F. Cropsey, Edward Hicks, Thomas Doughty, Charles Willson Peale (and family), Winslow Homer, William Rush, Jessie Willcox Smith, Mary Cassatt, William Merritt Chase, Cecelia Beaux, John Singer Sargent, Georgia O’Keefe, Thomas Eakins – are expected, naturally, but 200 Years of Excellence features works by lesser known names in the annals of American art history whose works in this volume shine just as brilliantly. These artists include Margaret Foster Richardson, Florine Stettheimer, Loren Maciver, Yves Tanguy, and George Copeland Ault. Published to mark the Pennsylvania Academy’s bicentennial in 2005, this sumptuous volume features an introductory essay by independent art historian (and occasional contributor to Pennsylvania Heritage) Stephen May entitled “An Enduring Legacy: The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 1805-2005,” which succinctly presents the story of “the oldest art museum and art school in America [that] is one of vision, ambition, persistence, and adherence to high standards.” Other essays include “Corning into Focus: Two Hundred Years of Building a Collection” by Mark Hain, former assistant curator at the Academy, “‘Exciting the Efforts of the Artists’: Art Instruction at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts” by Ronald J. Onorato, professor of art at the University of Rhode Island, and “The Samuel M. Hamilton Building: Autos to Art” by architect Peter M. Saylor. It’s the chapter de­voted to the Pennsylvania Academy’s masterpieces that is a visual feast – more than two hundred pages are devoted to the presentation of masterworks from its expansive collections. In this section, readers will find icons of American art, such as Penn’s Treaty with the Indians by Benjamin West, George Washington (The Lansdowne Portrait) by Gilbert Stuart, Young America by Andrew Wyeth, Fourth of July in Centre Square by John Lewis Krimmel, Hailing the Ferry by Daniel Ridgway Knight, Fox Hunt by Winslow Homer, The Cello Player by Thomas Eakins, and The Peaceable Kingdom by Edward Hicks. They’ll also discover just how broad and deep the Acad­emy’s collection is and will appreciate the number of styles and genres its holdings represent. Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts: 200 Years of Excellence is an excellent birthday present from the institution to admirers and aficionados of American art on its landmark anniversary.

 

Harry, Tom, and Father Rice: Accusation and Betrayal in America’s Cold War

By John Hoerr
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005 (311 pages, cloth, $29.95)

Much has been written about the overzealous Communist hunters of the late 1940s and early 1950s. Victims in these accounts were usually well-known figures, such as the Hollywood Ten, or prominent authors, including Arthur Miller and Lillian Hellman. However, ordinary Americans were also affected and their stories are just as remarkable. Harry, Tom, and Father Rice: Accusation and Betrayal in America’s Cold War relates the previously untold story of three ordinary citizens and recounts how their lives became intertwined during the ruthless anti-Communist witch hunts of the McCarthy era, one of the more repressive periods in United States history. (U.S. Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, of Wisconsin, relied heavily on reckless accusation, rumors and hearsay, unsubstantiated accounts, slander, bullying, and innuendo to threaten both defendants and witnesses, eventually causing the American public to dismiss his credibility.) The House Un-American Committee (HUAC) targeted thousands of Americans guilty only of enlisting in leftist causes. Harry J. Davenport, a liberal Democratic congressman from Pittsburgh, attacked bigotry and political re­pression from the outset of his political career in Washington in 1949. His beliefs were put to the test when friend and supporter Thomas (Tom) Quinn was subpoenaed to testify before HUAC regarding Quinn’s union at Westinghouse Electric Company’s plant in Pittsburgh. The Reverend Charles Owen Rice, Pitts­burgh’s “labor priest” and a vehement anti-Communist crusader, collaborated with HUAC to bring accusations against Quinn and his coworkers. Harry, Tom, and Father Rice recreates the frenzied anti-Communist atmosphere which enabled the committee to use rigged testimony of a few individuals to cast suspicion on fellow union members, ruining many lives and families in the process. The book is unusual compared to the plethora of impersonal histories of the McCarthy period. Unlike many of these histories, Harry, Tom, and Father Rice: Accusation and Betrayal in America’s Cold War traces the paths followed by Congressman Davenport, union leader Quinn, and Monsignor Rice and relates their individual experiences to the great conflict between anti-Communist and Communist forces in the American labor movement, which led to the eventual weakening of the Congress of Industrial Organizations, once an exceptionally powerful body that pledged to bring workers into the “American economic sunlight.”

 

City of Clerks: Office and Sales Workers in Philadelphia, 1870-1920

By Jerome P. Bjelopera
University of Illinois Press, 2005 (208 pages; cloth, $45.00; paper, $22.00)

Below the middle-class managers and professionals, yet above the skilled blue-collar workers, sales and office workers occupied an intermediate position in urban America’s social structure during the age of smokestacks. City of Clerks: Office and Sales Workers in Philadelphia, 1870-1920, traces the shifting occupational structures and work choices that facilitated the emergence of a white-collar workforce. The book discusses the educational goals, workplace cultures, leisure activities, and liv­ing situations that melded disparate groups of young men and women into a new class of clerks and salespeople. Young clerks became the backbone of industrial-era business and a key to its success. City of Clerks offers a fascinating commentary on the lives of Philadelphia’s male and female clerks, both inside and outside the workplace, as they formed their own clubs and associations, affirmed their “whiteness,” and challenged sexual norms. By mapping the relationship between these workers’ self-expectations and the shifting demands of their employers, City of Clerks reveals how the notion of “white collar” evolved over the course of a half-century.

 

These Just In…

A number of new books about Pennsylvania history have been received by Pennsylvania Heritage’s editorial staff, which has not had the opportunity to review them, but wishes to share news of their availability with readers.

Gateway to the Clouds-The Story of a Short Line Railroad: The Scranton, Dunmore, Moosic Lake Railroad, 1902-1926, by Alan Sweeney and Judy Sweeney, published by Tribute Books, 2005; 86 pages, paper, $30.00.

The Delaware Valley in the Early Republic: Architecture, Landscape, and Regional Identity, by Gabrielle M. Lanier, published by The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005; 250 pages, cloth, $46.95.

Theodore Sterner Christ, Civil War Surgeon from Union County, by Kenn Reagle, published by the Union County Historical Society, 2000; 116 pages, paper, $15.00.

Writing the Amish: The Worlds of John A. Hostetler, edited by David Weaver-Zercher, published by the Penn State University Press, 2005; 351 pages, cloth, $34.95.

The History of the Federal Penitentiary at Lewisburg, edited by M. Lois Huffines, et al., published by the Union County Historical Society, 2005; 136 pages, paper, $20.00.

Year of the Hangman: George Washington’s Campaign Against the Iroquois, by Glenn F. Williams, published by Westholme Publishing, 2005; 355 pages, cloth, $26.00.

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, edited by Peter Conn, published by the University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005; 180 pages, paper, $14.95.

Brothers, Sing On! My Half-Century Around the World with the Penn Glee Club, by Bruce Montgomery, published by the University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005; 208 Pages, Cloth, $29.95.

The First Wall Street: Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, and the Birth of American Finance, by Robert E. Wright, published by the University of Chicago Press, 2005; 208 pages, cloth, $25.00.

Lawyers and Leaders: The Role of Lawyers in the Develop­ment of York County, Pennsylvania, by Georg R. Sheets, published by the York County Bar Association, 2005; 161 pages; cloth, $25; paper, $12.50.