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

Wonders of Work and Labor: The Steidle Collection of American Industrial Art

by Betsy Fahlman and Eric Schruers
published by Earth and Mineral Sciences Museum and Art Gallery, 2009; 176 pages, cloth, $50.00

Mention Penn State and a few names immediately come to mind: Pattee Library, Happy Valley, the Blue Band, Berkey Creamery and, naturally, Joe Paterno and the Nittany Lions. What the average individual probably doesn’t know is that the university’s Earth and Mineral Sciences Museum and Art Gallery holds an impressive collection of works of art — many by Pennsylvanians — that document and portray industry over time.

The collection was begun by Edward Steidle (1887–1977), dean of Penn State’s Earth and Mineral Sciences College from 1929 to 1953, who saw it as a natural extension of the education of students in his college. He initiated the art collection at the university, then known as the Pennsylvania State College, during the Great Depression. He made a cardinal rule, and one that he abided by, that he would not purchase artworks but request their donation by the artists or benefactors. By employing art, Steidle could graphically show the critical role of mineral industries in building a strong nation and enriching its society. Steidle had noticed many artists, but primarily painters, focusing on the mineral industries, and he was compelled to bring this type of art together in a single collection.

In Wonders of Work and Labor: The Steidle Collection of American Industrial Art, Betsy Fahlman and Eric Schruers discuss the role of industrial art in North American art history since the colonial era. The authors also address the collection’s status. In its focus on industrial art in the United States, especially steel and coal mining, the Steidle Collection “is unique within the history of American collecting.” Although concentrated on presenting the industrial geography of Pennsylvania – there are portrayals of foundries, steel mills, ceramics, mining, metallurgy, oil, and natural gas, and quarrying and stone cutting – these are national industries that are significant beyond regional boundaries. In her essay entitled “The Art of Industry: Themes of Labor, Technology, and Process in American Art,” Fahlman positions the broad context of American industrial imagery within a larger art-historical consideration, particularly metallurgy, whose depictions are most prominently represented in the collection.

Fahlman and Schurers explore the importance of “a Pennsylvania collection for Pennsylvanians” in their chapter entitled “Bessemer Blasts and Coal Tipples: The Art of Pennsylvania Industry,” especially noting the work of artist Otto Kuhler (1894–1976), whose best work was inspired by the industry of Pittsburgh. They emphasize that, for many years, Pennsylvania had enjoyed the title “the workshop of the world,” and the works Steidle amassed demonstrate the interconnectedness of many of the Commonwealth’s leading industries, comprising a visual economic geography as seen through its most characteristic metallurgical enterprises. It is not, however, a complete or comprehensive history of industrial Pennsylvania but a compelling visual chronicle of those areas in which the graduates of the college were best suited for employment.

Schruers describes the acquisition of the artworks in “Edward Steidle and the Creation of an Industrial Art Collection,” which began in 1929. Within six years, by 1935, the collection boasted thirty-seven paintings by eleven artists. In 1937 alone, Steidle acquired fifty-four works. By the time he retired, the collection numbered 165 paintings by ninety-six artists.


To Petersburg with the Army of the Potomac: The Civil War Letters of Levi Bird Duff, 105th Pennsylvania Volunteers

edited by Jonathan E. Helmreich
published by McFarland and Company, 2009; 232 pages, paper, $45.00

To Petersburg with the Army of the Potomac: The Civil War Letters of Levi Bird Duff, 105th Pennsylvania Volunteers, edited by Jonathan E. Helmreich, contains letters written by Duff from June 13, 1861, to June 29, 1864.

Levi Bird Duff (1837–1916) was born in Barree Township, Huntingdon County, and at the age of three his family moved to Clarion, Clarion County, where his father entered the iron business. The family moved in 1845 to a house on Fiddler’s Run near Pike Furnace, also in Clarion County. Duff enrolled in Eldersridge Academy and later Allegheny College, from which he graduated in 1857. After studying law, he joined the Allegheny County bar in 1860 and opened an office in Pittsburgh. At the age of twenty-three, he joined the Pittsburgh Rifles on May 1, 1861 for three months’ service in response to President Abraham Lincoln’s call for troops after the April 12 firing on Fort Sumter by Confederate forces. And here is where the story begins.

Duff trained at Pittsburgh’s Camp Williams, and on June 28, he and the Pittsburgh Rifles were mustered into service for three months as Company A, 9th Pennsylvania Reserves, later designated the 38th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers. A month later, on July 23, Private Duff’s regiment left Pittsburgh for Camp Curtin in Harrisburg and then to Camp Jackson near Washington, D.C., to defend the nation’s capital from an anticipated attack by Confederate forces. On July 28, he was mustered into the service of the United States as 6th Corporal of Company A, 38th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers.

Duff wrote two hundred letters to his fiancée, Harriet Howard Nixon (1837–1877), daughter of Allegheny City Mayor Hezekiah Nixon (1802–1858), whom he would marry on July 21, 1862. At first awkward and studiedly courteous, Duff’s correspondence became increasingly frequent, extensive, and informal as his relationship with Nixon deepened. Because the Army of the Potomac spent most of the war fairly close to Washington, D.C., which had good connections with Pittsburgh, the letters traveled quickly. Although all Duff’s missives did not follow the same pattern, generally they opened with a report regarding which of Nixon’s messages had arrived — she wrote 221 — an expression of the joy they brought to him. His letters inevitably included a chronicle of life and events in the army and a commentary on the Union’s military fortunes and leadership. Like other combatants, he eschewed descriptions of the gory details of battle.

In his first letter to Harriet, written from Camp Tenally, Washington, D.C., Duff complained bitterly about Conrad F. Jackson, who became colonel of the 38th Pennsylvania Volunteers in May (and who died at Fredericksburg on December 13, 1862). “We have just come in from regimental drill of one hour in the rain. The boys are all complaining of the colonel — not because he drilled us in the rain but because he had the impudence to wear an India rubber coat when he well knew that the privates could not afford such a covering. He is fast getting the ill will of all the men in the regiment.”

Duff was seriously wounded at Petersburg on June 18, 1864. His letter of June 22 to his wife of two years was terse and uncharacteristically lacked punctuation. “My Right Leg is Amputated above Knee Come to Washington without delay to Avenue House Bring Trunk and Linin with you Am doing well” He returned to Pittsburgh a hero and resumed the practice of law in January 1865.


Because of them … “Part of the Parade” … the Parade goes on!

by Vince Carocci and Norm Mawby
published by Mawby Project Group, 2009; 252 pages, paper, $24.95.

Because of them … “Part of the Parade” … the Parade goes on! is not about the stellar athletes who delight baseball fans, but it’s a look behind the scenes at the nameless, almost faceless, employees at Citizens Bank Park, the South Philadelphia ball field of the Philadelphia Phillies, without whom the game couldn’t be played. This book is a story of their life’s work and, in most cases, their passion.

Authors Vince Carocci and Norm Mawby introduce readers to a wide assortment of individuals that work at Citizens Bank Park, from the director of ballpark operations to groundskeepers, greeters, landscape manager, security guards, ticket sellers, videographers, hosts and hostesses, vending managers and, of course the “peanut lady” and the “beer man.” They allow their subjects, all of whom are ardent Phillies fans, to speak for themselves about their love of both the game and the team. The first-person narratives are engaging, entertaining, and eye-opening.

Many of the individuals interviewed have worked for the Phillies organization for thirty to forty years and their penchant for baseball is obvious. No one complains about the amount or type of tasks they perform; instead, they regale readers with reminisces of the proverbial “good old days,” as well as explain why they are so smitten by the Phillies. Mike DiMuzio, of Wilmington, Delaware, grew up in Philadelphia; today, he’s the director of ballpark operations. He remembers his first day with the Phillies as if it were yesterday. “My first day with the Phillies was April 10, 1971, when we opened the Vet[erans Stadium],” he recalls. “The excitement of walking into this new facility . . . fifty-six to fifty-seven thousand people . . . the whole aura of this new happening, particularly in South Philadelphia . . . really being a part of it. I guess I was sold on that.” Other interviewees are just as enthusiastic.

Woven throughout Because of them are snippets of history about Citizens Bank Park. Opened in 2004, the twenty-one acre park seats 43,500 fans and employs twelve hundred workers. But Philadelphia sports fans will forever revere it as the site of the 2008 World Series victory by their beloved Phillies.


These Just In . . .

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

Braddock’s March: How the Man Sent to Seize a Continent Changed American History, by Thomas E. Crocker, published by Westholme Publishing; 360 pages; cloth, $28.00.

Pittsburgh: A New Portrait, by Franklin Toker, published by the University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009; 512 pages, cloth, $34.95.

An Independent Spirit: The Art and Life of R. A. D. Miller, by Cher Krause Knight, published by the James A. Michener Art Museum, 2009; 64 pages, paper, $18.00.

Peaceable Kingdom Lost: The Paxton Boys and the Destruction of William Penn’s Holy Experiment, by Kevin Kenny, published by Oxford University Press, 2009; 294 pages, cloth, $29.95.