Daily Archives: January 17, 2012

Working and Waltzing in the Shadow of an Industry: Pittsburgh Iron & Steel Heritage Collection

There is a lot going on behind the scenes at the library.  On the occasion that one of our projects has a public face, we’re excited to share it.

In October 2008 Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh received a National Leadership Demonstration Grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to digitally preserve over 500,000 pages of historic materials related to Pittsburgh’s iron and steel industry and to make them publicly available.  Over the course of the last three years, we’ve been quietly putting together what is now known as the Pittsburgh Iron & Steel Heritage Collection.

The Pittsburgh Iron & Steel Heritage Collection is a digital archive of over 500,000 pages from historic materials documenting the emergence of the iron and steel industry in Pittsburgh and the surrounding region. Dating from the 1800s, the archive features books, journals, photographs, illustrations, trade catalogs, and maps from the collections of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

Sharon Iron Works, Sharon, Pa., August 29th 1888

What you’ll find within the collection is an abundance of resources about the iron and steel industry, including the people, neighborhoods, industries, and businesses that evolved and thrived in the industry’s shadow. Scholars and historians will find no shortage of highly specialized scientific books and journals related to the production and manufacturing of steel.  For the rest of us, there is The Making, Shaping and Treating of Steel .

Man pouring steel in a Pittsburgh steel mill

You’ll also find a lot of items indirectly related to the industry. These documents demonstrate the extent to which the steel industry became a part of the daily lives of Pittsburghers and the rest of the world.  Did you know that there is a Pittsburgh connection to the Ferris Wheel? Did you ever wonder why your friend or coworker from Pittsburgh’s East End thinks his neighborhood is best? Apparently folks in the East End have felt that way since at least 1907, when it was declared “the world’s most beautiful suburb.” Do you love your car, but can’t quite find a way to express it?  Then consider performing the Automobile Waltz from 1900.

In addition, we created gallery of photographs and images on Flickr. It’s a nice way to  scratch the surface of the collection. Please feel free to share and comment on your favorite photos.

Over the next few months we’ll be adding more items to the collection and making some additional changes to the accompanying Web pages. For now, consider this an opportunity to get a preview of the project and share your feedback. We’re are very proud to have this opportunity to preserve and share the culture, heritage, and knowledge of our region’s industrial past.

If you’d like to learn more about this project visit the Pittsburgh Iron & Steel Heritage Collection website or begin exploring the collection at www.clpdigital.org.

– Ryan


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