Presenting at the Pittsburgh Asia Consortium

By undergraduate scholar, Joseph Yaure

This past February I had the opportunity to present at the Pittsburgh Asia Consortium, an undergraduate conference focusing on Asian Studies. Students from local universities made the snowy trek to the Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh to present their research papers. Topics ranged from the resurgence of the Kimono in Japanese culture, to secularization of the caste system in India. I embraced a broader view of Asia, by focusing on the Middle East. My paper, entitled, “Beards of Persia: The Evolution of Power, Masculinity, and Solidarity” examined the history of facial hair as a cultural symbol of Iran.

I was both excited and nervous to present at this conference, as it was my first time presenting. It was also my second time inside the famous Cathedral of Learning. The Cathedral is one of the defining symbols of the University of Pittsburgh. Each room depicts a different culture. While many rooms were closed off, the presenters were allowed to enter the African, and Indian rooms. It was an honor to present in such a beautiful building.

My paper and presentation originated in a class with Dr. Christine Baker (IUP History Dept.) about Iranian society. The goal of the paper was to highlight and examine a symbol that has appeared throughout Iran’s history. I argued that facial hair in Iran has evolved to from a symbol associated with power, to a symbol of masculinity, and finally to a symbol of solidarity against the West. To support my argument, I studied sculptures, paintings, and photographs found throughout Iran’s past.


Figure 1: This relief depicts Ahura Mazda giving power to Sassanid ruler, Ardashir. There is a ring of power being passed from the God to the man as symbolic support.

I began by examining a relief found on the tombs of several Acahmenid kings.[1] The Acahmenids were one of the first large empires found within the borders of present-day Iran. One of the defining traits was the monotheistic religion, Zoroastrianism. Its God, Ahura Mazda, was powerful and intimidating to his followers. As with every empire, it eventually collapsed, leaving room for new leaders to rule. However, the influence of the Acahmenids, and their religion remained. The tombs of the kings were meant to house the body and possessions of the fallen leaders. While the treasures inside are gone, stolen by Alexander the Great, the reliefs still remain. In this relief, both powerful men sport beards. Ahura Mazda, the winged man on the right, is giving a ring of power to the Ardashir, a Sassanid king. While they both wear prominent beards of similar styles, the servant behind the future king is beardless. The figure of Ardashir copies the image of the Zoroastrian God in order to assert his right to rule the lands that he conquered. (Figure 1)

Early leaders projected their superiority by emphasizing masculinity, and a beard helped promote this image. One of the most prominent examples was Adud ad-Dawla, a tenth century leader. To assert his right to rule, Adud ad-Dawla claimed to be descendent of Bahram Gur, a figure found in the Shahnameh. The Shahnameh was written to teach future princes and rulers what actions were just, and what actions were not.[2] Bahram Gur fought honorably and was fair in all of his actions. These were seen as masculine traits in 10th century Iran. In addition to declaring his connection to Bahram Gur, Adud ad-Dawla dressed in the same manner.[3] This included wearing a beard.[4]

In modern times, some Iranians have embraced facial hair as a sign of solidarity against the West. During the 1950s, the Shah of Iran implemented measures that were meant to create a more Western-style Iran. These measures included banning the veil for women and promoting a clean-shaven face for men. Men and women were encouraged to dress in a Western style and act in a Western manner. Forcing people to act in a certain way led to tensions, which boiled over in the Iranian Revolution of 1979.[5] The Shah of Iran was overthrown and the present government rose to power. However, during that rise to power, Iranian students and leaders started to wear traditional beards instead of the Western-style of a mustache or less.

Figure 2: Picture of Bani-Sadr, first president of Iran. He was an example of how an Iranian leader was heavily influenced by Western styles. In the background in an image of Khomeini and his more traditional appearance.

Figure 2: Picture of Bani-Sadr, first president of Iran. He was an example of how an Iranian leader was heavily influenced by Western styles. In the background in an image of Khomeini and his more traditional appearance.

The most well-known bearded leader was Ayatollah Khomeini who wore the traditional cleric beard. While Khomeini was in the military, he wore a trim beard. It was not until Khomeini became more involved in the politics and religion that he began to grow his iconic cleric beard. This sudden shift in appearance was meant to show his displeasure with the Shah’s actions. Khomeini was heavily involved in the overthrowing of the Shah though he could not have done it without the revolutionary leaders. However, even after Shah was overthrown, many Iranian leaders of the Revolution were kicked out due to concerns about being sympathetic to the West. The concerns about many of the revolutionary leaders arose from their Western appearance. They wore Western style suits, studied at universities in the West, and had facial hair in the style of the West. Iran wanted to expel all examples of Western values and the people believed that they had to return to a traditional appearance.

This conference was an amazing experience for me. I never thought this paper would leave the classroom. Instead of abandoning it after the final grade, I worked with Dr. Baker to make it worthy of the conference and was able to present it to my peers. Who would have guessed a paper on the history of beards would lead me to a conference on Asian Studies and an opportunity to develop my professional history and public speaking skills?

[1] “Naqsh-I Rostam: Colossal Tombs of Persian Kings” Amusing Planet, January 14, 2012

[2] Davis, Dick. Trans. Shahnameh (Penguin Books). 619-621.

[3]Bahram Gur Slays Lions.

[4] The artwork that I examined was commissioned in the 13th century, three hundred years after Adud al-Dawla ruled. In all of the paintings he was bearded though it had a large Mongolian influence as they were expanding their reign over the region.

[5] Banji Manouchehr, Defying the Iranian Revolution: From a Minister to the Shah to a Leader of Resistance (London: Praeger, 2002).

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1889 Johnstown Flood: An Industrial City Devastated

By: Joey Koishal


Lake Conemaugh and the South Fork Hunting and Fishing Club in its operational days

The Johnstown Flood of 1889 still ranks second on the United States natural disaster civilians killed list only behind the 1900 Galveston, Texas hurricane. Unlike Galveston, Mother Nature was not the only factor involved. In fact, it has been debated for years of where the blame falls for the misfortune of the flood. Throughout my internship and work with the Johnstown Area Heritage Association, my interest in the flood has only expanded. Not to mention, I have lived in the flood valley of Johnstown my entire life.

During the mid-nineteenth-century, Johnstown became a booming industrial complex within the steel mills and was regarded as one of the largest steel producers in the world in the 1870s. Approximately, fourteen miles away stood the site of the South Fork Hunting and Fishing Club. The SFHFC purchased the property in 1879 and its members included wealthy Pittsburghers such as Henry Phipps, Andrew Mellon, Andrew Carnegie, Henry Frick, and Benjamin Ruff. South Fork was a getaway for these rich individuals who could spend their summertime weekends by the countryside compared to the black smoke filled city of Pittsburgh. However, this peaceful getaway had a deteriorating dam that enclosed Lake Conemaugh and stood tall above Johnstown. At the time, it was the largest built earthen dam and stood 72 feet high by 931 feet wide.[i] Lake Conemaugh itself was an astounding two miles long by one mile wide. Although the dam was faulty and deteriorating, it seemed to be more “bothersome than alarming.”[ii] In 1862, a portion of the dam had collapsed and shortly after the owner sold the discharge pipes for scrap; which created no possible way of draining the lake to make necessary repairs to the dam. The SFHFC members’ solution to stopping the continuous leaks in the dam were by covering them with dirt, grass, and hay. The unstableness of the dam was no secret to Johnstown residents as for years they had been making numerous efforts to have their voices heard in hopeful attempts of repairing the dam before it was too late. Soon enough, that day had come.

A tremendous storm that had formed over the Kansas and Nebraska area had eventually reached Johnstown and South Fork on May 30, 1889. Overnight, rivers rose at one foot per hour and Lake Conemaugh rose two feet.[iii] Eight inches of rain had fallen in twenty-four hours.[iv] After non-stop continuous torrential rainfall, “the old wounds in the dam that had been neglected for years were reopening.”[v] At 3:10 p.m., May 31, 1889, the dam broke. Since South Fork was located on a hillside, the town escaped annihilation. It took about forty minutes for the entire dam (twenty-million tons of water) to drain and at 4:07 p.m. the flood waters of forty miles per hour and sixty feet high had reached Johnstown. The floodwater flow was equivalent to standing next to Niagara Falls for thirty-eight minutes. It took ten minutes for the entire downtown city of Johnstown to be washed away. Throughout the fourteen mile trip heading towards Johnstown, the flood gathered houses, trees, animals, barbed wire, people, and other debris, which all piled up at the Stone Bridge; which was one of the very few bridges that withheld the flood. The flood killed 2,209 and caused $17 million in damage (equivalent to $425 million today).[vi]


A tree striking jutting out of the side a house. A common site in the flood wreckage.


The Stone Bridge following the aftermath of the flood.

Every year the Johnstown Flood Museum attracts thousands of visitors from all over the United States, in which the museum tells the story and traces the path of the flood. The museum houses rare artifacts and first hand perspectives of the flood that allows the visitor to gain the late nineteenth-century authentic feel. The museum also shows a twenty-six minute documentary, The Johnstown Flood, which won an academy award for best documentary in 1989, 100 years after the flood. The two causes of the flood, which are identified as being a destructive force of Mother Nature and the mismanagement of the dam leads visitors to investigate for themselves at the Johnstown Flood Museum.

The Johnstown Flood Museum

The Johnstown Flood Museum

The Stone Bridge as it appears today

The Stone Bridge as it appears today

[i] Johnstown Area Heritage Association: The Johnstown Flood Museum.

[ii] The Johnstown Flood, directed by Charles Guggenheim, released 1989. PBS Video. Film, 26 minutes.

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Ibid.

[vi] Johnstown Area Heritage Association: The Johnstown Flood Museum.

*All photos curtesy of the Johnstown Area Heritage Association.

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Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Tradition and Sustainability

By Devin Carter

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has the privilege of being one of the oldest in the entire United States, ratifying the U.S. Constitution in 1787, 2nd after Delaware[1]. This has given Pennsylvania a unique history that has greatly resembled the history of the United States[2]. The rise and fall of industrial and manufacturing jobs has occurred throughout the US since the beginning, but Pennsylvania has endured this sea of uncertainty through a variety of means. Pittsburgh has re-established and re-branded itself from a strictly blue collar steel and coal producing area, to a modern city with artistic, market, and educational districts.[3] On a more local level Indiana, and the surrounding smaller boroughs and towns, has remained relevant due to their local university.


Sutton Hall Indiana Normal School

Indiana University of Pennsylvania was first established in 1875, and at the time was called Indiana Normal School[4]. Over the next 45 years the school would pass from the hands of the original private investors to the possession of the Commonwealth. This is when the Normal School became the Teachers College at Indiana. It would not be until the 1960’s that the process of turning the original Normal School in to an accredited university would be fully complete. In 1965 the school was granted university status and was given the name that still stands today, Indiana University of Pennsylvania[5].


Putt Hall, Newly Constructed

IUP has been growing constantly, maybe not consistently, since the first school building was built in the 1870’s. Enrollment numbers went from just a few hundred students to now over almost fifteen thousand graduate and undergraduate students. IUP now has over sixty buildings including administrative offices, athletic training facilities, classroom and laboratories, and dormitories, fostering work, training, education, and recreation. These facilities provide a countless number of people with jobs and job security. Expansion and renovation of campus buildings enables area construction workers, electricians, carpenters, plumbers, and others will be able to find employment. As a local resident since 1990 I have personally seen the campus take on a brand new look, with the emergence of high quality suites and brand new buildings. [6]

Keith Hall

Keith Hall

Faculty positions are not the only positions available in the educational buildings; there are a good number of staff workers that keep departments running. If you go in to any department or school to find out information, secretaries or assistants are often the best people to help. Any student on campus can see the different departmental vans driving around, all are employees of IUP. Maintenance departments keep educational buildings functioning to their fullest potential. These men and women are all employed by the university, but may not live directly in the borough. They take their wages and earnings to their families and invest in their local communities be it Marion or Homer Center. The same can be said about the professors and coaches; some may live in the borough, but others live elsewhere. Overall, from the beginning, the university has provided a safe and secure job that many people have taken advantage of and thrived[7].


Aerial View of Dorms

Indiana as a small borough would not have been able to survive and thrive as long as it has without the direct help of the university providing economic stability to the region. When the coal mines all go away, and the last bit of power has been taken from the plants, only the university will remain as a reliable and steadfast employer. It has provided countless opportunities to men and women looking to make a career since 1875. IUP will enable growth to occur throughout not only the borough, but any surrounding town that will affiliate with the university.


[1] “Pennsylvania ratifies the Constitution of 1787”. Retrieved Nov 8, 2014

[2] Pennsylvania was at the heart of many of the different “booms” in American economic history. Coal, timber, oil, steel, textiles, and glass were all mined, drilled, or produced in Pennsylvania. The state has been able to shift to the changing wind that is the United States political landscape. Pennsylvania had a direct role in industrializing the nation, leading us into our modern age of prosperity. Much like the United States, Pennsylvania has shifted from being resource area, to a production and manufacturing area, to now a modern mix of the industrial past and the consumer future.

[3] Kitch, Caroline. Pennsylvania in Public Memory. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press (2012)

[4] Merryman, John Edward The Indiana Story 1875–1975: Pennsylvania’s First State University… Indiana Printing and Publishing Co., Indiana, Pennsylvania (1976)

[5] Much of IUP’s history can be found at various places on the web site by going to and searching through the pages. This information came from “A long Tradition” (March, 2008)  To gain University status a college must complete several informal requirements including, but not limited to: student enrollment, diverse choice of programs and majors, and separation of schools within the college.

[6] Shackner, Bill. “IUP betting on upscale housing for students,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (May 10, 2007).

[7] This does not mean that the University has constantly expanded throughout its history. There have been times with little to no growth, mainly occurring through the 1960’s. The first few years of the State’s ownership of the school saw little growth, but that would not continue and in recent years the campus has been lucky enough to be expanding instead of shrinking.

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The Whiskey Rebellion

It was the winter of 1791 when Congress met to discuss the Excise Whiskey Tax, a bill put in place to help pay off the immense debt that had piled up from the Revolutionary War, which would be placed on distilled liquor. An excise tax is a tax that is placed on a specific good or product. Large producers of liquor were able to pay less than smaller producers because they only had to pay an annual tax, which was roughly six cents per gallon while smaller producers had to pay a year rate of roughly nine cents. These smaller producers mainly existed in western counties of Pennsylvania and the tax was detrimental because they only made whiskey occasionally. Needless to say, these small time producers were enraged at the newly placed tax.[1]

Rebellion 1

“Famous Whiskey Insurrection in Pennsylvania, 1794”

Concerns arose because the revenue from the tax was going to the government, and at the time, the people believed that their government was not representing them well. Liquor was a part of everyday life, and putting a tax on such a high demand product felt like oppression to the people in the western counties. The government required each county to establish an office from which an officer could collect the tax. The easiest way for people to avoid paying the tax was by preventing an officer from residing in a citizen’s home through threats and fear to keep the officer out. If the officer was successful in securing a home to reside in, rebels resorted to humiliation by tarring and feathering the officer, or in severe cases, torturing the official.[2]

Whiskey 2

“Capture of the Whiskey-Tax Collectors”

The Whiskey Rebellion was an important moment in western Pennsylvanians’ history due to its role in instigating Congress to repeal the excise tax in 1802.[3] On July 16, 1794, a group of roughly 400-500 men marched on Bower Hill, out of anger at the oppressive government, located in Allegheny County, southwest of Pittsburgh. The planned assault was against General John Neville, who was a military officer and excise tax collector and served in both the French and Indian war and the American Revolutionary war. Rebels met resistance at the home of Neville, as he had armed his slaves and had a few soldiers guarding the property. The fighting commenced and by the end the mansion on Bower Hill was burned to the ground to send a message of fear to other tax collectors.[4] In August, about 5,000-7,000 men met in Braddock, PA to protest the tax. Because of the violent attack on Neville’s home, and mounting protests of anger that the tax was still in place, these rebellions caused the government enough concern that President George Washington would have to intervene and stop the revolt.[5]

Because of the rebel’s behavior, President George Washington organized a militia of 12,950 men and led them towards Western Pennsylvania. Rebels, fearing the militia, dispersed and hid. President Washington was only able to capture 150 men, who were charged with treason. However, because of the lacking evidence and witnesses, only two men were found guilty of treason and were later pardoned by President Washington on the grounds that they would submit to the laws of the United States.[6] In 1802, President Thomas Jefferson repealed the excise tax due to the rebels’ challenge of federal authority.[7]

I became interested in the Whiskey Rebellion after reading The Whiskey Rebels, by David Liss. The novel delves into the time period of the whiskey tax and provides an image of what life was like for those living on the frontier in western Pennsylvania. The Whiskey rebels helped create the new American nation through perseverance for change, to not be used by the government as a way to pay off debt from the Revolutionary war, showing that the American people are a force to be reckoned with.

Whiskey 3

“George Washington reviewing the troops being deployed against the Whiskey Rebellion.”


[1] Thomas Slaughter, “The Whiskey Rebellion,” last modified November 20, 2014, Accessed November 20, 2014.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Peter Kotowski, “Whiskey Rebellion,” last modified 2014, Accessed November 18, 2014.

[4] “Bower Hill Historical Marker,” last modified 2011, Accessed November 19, 2014.

[5] “Braddock’s Field,” last modified 2014, Accessed November 21, 2014.

[6] George Washington, “Proclamation of Pardons in Western Pennsylvania (July 10, 1795),” last modified 2014, Accessed November 22, 2014.

[7] Kotowski, “Whiskey Rebellion”.

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Uncovering Connections to the Past in the IUP Archives


IUP Special Collections and Archives

By Joseph Dell

The IUP archives are a treasure trove of information about the university and, to a further extent, the Indiana community. Volunteering in the archives has given me a better appreciation as to the nature of public history and how it is relevant to a community.[1] As a volunteer in the Archives, I was tasked with scanning IUP’s football programs for their digital archives project. The goal of the project is to make these programs more easily available to researchers. What I have found contained in the programs, which start in 1930s, has been at times entertaining, enlightening and interesting.


Football Programs 1987-1988

Within these football programs, the advertisements are perhaps the most interesting items. The changing attitudes of the country can be tracked through the advertisements, as at one time cigarette and whiskey ads adorned the football programs of an institution of higher learning! The opinions on ads containing images of alcohol or tobacco use have changed over the years and most people today would not find them appropriate in a college football program. Alcohol sales do not even occur in NCAA football stadiums across the country. The tone of the ads have also been refined over the decades.[2] The 1950s in particular have many sexist advertisements and are unabashedly directed to men. Such overt sexism is not seen today in print ads. One can also track the prosperity of the community businesses as they relate to the university through the presence of their advertisements. While many businesses have come and gone, several still remain. Many businesses have helped to support the university by placing their advertisements in the football programs. The exposure that those businesses has received has created a synergy between community and university.

How does this relate back to the archives and the football programs? Simply put, the football programs allow you to see how advertising has changed over the years. Within the programs are both connections to local history and national history as advertising has changed. While the local advertisements have changed little in their scope and content, the national advertisements have changed dramatically in the last 70 years. Local advertisements target those people that are attending the games and who will support their business. Larger companies also advertise.. Coca-Cola, for example, has been the advertiser at the center of the programs since the 1950s. A long time sponsor such as Coca-Cola shows a well-developed relationship between the university and corporate sponsors. Coke wants every thirsty person attending drinking a Coke. Another interesting item to note is that without the support of local sponsors, the programs would not have become as elaborate over the years. More and more pages in the programs have become dedicated to advertisements as the decades progressed. In the early programs, the advertisements were almost exclusively local, while in more recent years (I’ve scanned up to 1986) the advertisements are more of a mix of local and national businesses. Anyone who wants to can research these images to see not only how advertising has changed, but which local businesses have supported the university throughout the years.

Interestingly, although there is synergy between the community and the university, tensions also exist. The additional stress placed on the community by the inclusion of several thousand students has created a contentious relationship between the university and members of the community.[3] Indeed, most of the time there are never any problems, however every now and again there are incidents that cast the university in a bad light, through no fault of the university. That being said, without the added income of the students the town would not prosper as it has these many years. There is a delicate balance that has to be maintained, often times it is difficult, yet the connection between the two endures.


ScanSnap imager on the right is used to scan the programs

The purpose of an archive is to make available those materials in their collections to researchers. While the physical programs are held at IUP’s Special Collections, digitizing them and making them available through the IUP library’s website will make the programs that much more accessible to anyone who may be interested in their content. I have only focused on the advertisements, however there are a plethora of other uses as well.

The football programs illustrate interconnectedness of the University and the town by providing literal snapshots into the past lives of people that have lived, worked and gone to school here. Growing up in Indiana has allowed me to appreciate this project more perhaps than someone who is not native to the area. Like many Indiana residents, my IUP connection goes beyond being a student. As a child, my father and I would attend IUP home games every Saturday. The familiar boom of the cannon when IUP scores a touchdown still brings back pleasant memories. People may want to see the pictures of the IUP football players when they were younger. Some may have only played for one year or one game and are immortalized in those images and pages. I myself discovered in the 1983 program of IUP vs Waynesburg College the name of my Uncle Bobby, as he played linebacker for Waynesburg that year. A pleasant surprise to be sure! Childhood memories and small experiences such as this has made my experience working in the archives extremely worthwhile. This project has allowed me to make connections between university and community as a lifelong resident. Additionally, the skills that I have learned working in the archives will help me in my career as a public historian. As my work continues into the new decades, I look forward to see how much further the connections will go.

[1] IUP Special Collections website:

[2] For useful questions in analyzing print ads – “Ad Analysis – Writing Commons,” accessed November 5, 2014,

[3] “Officials: Homecoming Weekend Less Raucous than in Past Years – October 13, 2014,” accessed November 5, 2014,,20769176/.

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Indiana Hospital: 100 years of “family treating family”

By Jacob Zelmore

Hospital 1

Indiana Hospital Today

If you travel down Wayne Avenue heading towards IUP, you are sure to notice a rather large structure sitting on top of a hill. The building as we know it today is Indiana Regional Medical Center (IRMC) a regional based hospital that serves all of Indiana County. Though its appearance is rather large and powerful today, it has always been that way throughout time.

During the time of coal and powerful industry in Indiana, around the turn of the twentieth century, people began to take notice of a void in the community: A hospital was needed and in 1902 from the recommendation of a Grand Jury, the venture began..[1] The current hospital is not the first however; several other hospitals had appeared as ventures by local doctors whom also understood the need to have facilities to treat and care for people of the area in addition to the miners.[2] The creation of Indiana Hospital was a 12-year process with many ups and downs, which started in 1902. After 12 years, the current Indiana Hospital had opened its doors to the public. The hospital was made possible by the efforts of the Indiana County Hospital Association, the Adrian Iselin Family, and the community.[3] The Iselin family contributed forty thousand dollars towards the creation of the hospital, provided the citizens locate a site and then take charge of the hospital once it was built.   The citizens lived up to their word and Indiana Hospital opened their doors.

Hospital 2

The original hospital building is still in use today.

From the time of its opening, expansion and community investment have been major themes of creating Indiana Hospital’s identity. Indiana Hospital has continuously invested in the citizens of Indiana County by not only medical care, but by the Nursing School created in 1915 which educated women into nurses for the area and charity work done by the Auxiliary to invest in the hospital and community. The creation of the Mack wing in 1938, the 1958 wing, and the tower in 1979 have been tremendously beneficial in creating the Indiana Hospital that we know today. By erecting these new wings, the hospital was able to expand the services that it offers and modernize itself in the developing world of medicine. Ultimately, a word that best describes the hospital is innovation. Throughout the hospital’s history, the charity of the Hospital Auxiliary and Community to the hospital itself has been tremendous. Medical equipment and money donated by philanthropists and the community have sustained the hospital since the beginning keeping Indiana Hospital state of the art. In addition, the hospital Auxiliary created the famous pantry at the hospital. In addition to serving the patients between visits, the pantry also serves the community seeking a quick lunch.

Today Indiana Hospital—or (IRMC) as it is know today has stood the test of time. IRMC continues to grow and thrive thanks to the support of the community and its patients. Most recently, in 2002 the Bork Emergency center was constructed expanding the hospitals emergency services and even today it continues to grow. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Laura Jeffery in the Marketing Department of IRMC. During this meeting she discussed the current expansion at the hospital. The expansion will house a new Intensive Care Unit, Ambulatory Care, Hospital Central Supply, and new operating rooms. In addition, we also discussed the centennial celebration of the hospital, which is currently underway.

Though Indiana is a small town, small is not a word to describe it’s healthcare infrastructure. Today, IRMC offers several services in Cancer Care, General Surgery, Nuclear Medicine, Maternity Care, Cardiology Services, and many other services allowing people to stay in their hometown rather than traveling away for quality healthcare. In addition, the community spirit has never left IRMC and never will. Many doctors at the hospital have treated generations of patients and taken care of generations of families, as Laura Jeffrey described it best, IRMC is “Family treating Family.” As soon as you enter the IRMC you feel the family atmosphere. While I was completing this project, I treated myself to lunch in the infamous pantry and felt the friendly atmosphere.

Hospital 3

IRMC today looking down on the town as a Guardian Angel

Today, as it always has for the past 100 years, Indiana Hospital (IRMC) sits atop its hill looking down on Indiana waiting to care of us. I would personally like to congratulate the entire staff and committees of the hospital on their centennial and wish IRMC many more anniversaries!

[1] Swinger, Patricia. Indiana Regional Medical Center 1914-2014: Honoring Our Past, Embracing Our Future. Virginia Beach,: Donning, 2014. Print. Pp.11

[2] Ibid. 11

[3]Ibid. 15

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America’s Oldest Forge

By: Jay D. Taylor

Forge Hallmark

Wendell August Forge Hallmark

In 1923, Wendell August, who was working in the coal industry, needed latches for the doors on his Brockway, Pennsylvania home.[1] He sought out the help of Ottone “Tony” Pisoni, who was a blacksmith at August’s coal mine.[2] After seeing artistic quality of Pisoni’s work, August got the idea to start a decorative ironware business.[3]   Pisoni and three other blacksmiths created railings, window grilles, doorknockers, candlesticks, and fireplace andirons.[4] They continued working with iron until a contract from the Aluminum Company of America sent them down a path they would follow for over 80 years.


Aluminum pieces

Examples of Decorative Aluminium Pieces

The Aluminum Company of America was looking for new uses for aluminum, and by winning their contract for designing decorative aluminum gates and elevator doors, Wendell August Forge moved into the decorative aluminum business.[5] Wendell August Forge began by making many of the same style products they had previously made, such as gates and railings, and they even night deposit boxes for banks. There was one difference though—Wendell August would have the scraps from these projects used to make decorative gifts for whoever he was working for.[6] It was here that the current focus of Wendell August Forge began.

The company moved to Grove City, Pennsylvania in 1932, after a successful commission for one of Grove City’s bank.[7] Wendell August Forge has remained in Grove City ever since. Wendell August continues to make their products using their original eight-step process,[8] but their medium has expanded to include bronze, silver, and pewter as well as aluminum. All of their products are hand-made one at a time, insuring that no two items are identical. Their expert die engravers, who still use a hammer and chisel to craft their dies.[9] Wendell August Forge was listed on the National Register for Historic Places, until it met with tragedy in 2010.


The Fire that Consumed the Historic Forge.

It took only about an hour for flames to consume the forge.[10] A fire in March of 2010 destroyed the historic building, but luckily their dies survived the crucible.[11] The fire didn’t stop the Wendell August Forge, and their operations continued through their other sites while a new flagship location was built. It took over three years, but a new building was finally built in Grove City, and the company has been refined in the fires of misfortune.[12]


Hindenburg “Millionaire’s Flight” Ashtray

Throughout its operation, Wendell August Forge has crafted some extremely notable pieces. In 1936, the Hindenburg took some of the wealthiest people in the world on a “Millionaire’s Flight.”[13] Ashtrays decorated with a glass Hindenburg replica made by Wendell August were given to the passengers of this flight.[14] Other notable pieces include 12 solid bronze plates which commemorated the SALT II treaty between the United States and the former Soviet Union, turtle shaped towel basins for the Rockefellers, commemorative tickets for the Pittsburgh Penguin’s last regular season game at Mellon Arena, as well as pieces for Coca-Cola and Walt Disney.[15]

As someone who grew up in Grove City, Wendell August Forge has a cultural significance to me and the other people who live the area. It ingrained in the culture. It would be difficult to find a home in Grove City that doesn’t have at least one piece made by Wendell August. The decorative aluminum works of art created by Wendell August are a ‘go-to’ gift for graduations, weddings, and other important events. Every year Wendell August comes out with a new Christmas ornament, which will undoubtedly end up in many households.

Even though the original building listed on the National Register is gone, the history itself still remains and is perpetuated by Wendell August Forge, and the communities nearby. Their history lives on through the workers at the forge, because they keep it alive by making pieces by hand, one at a time. Their history also lives on because of a community who values a product made the same way it always was—and the way it will continue to be made.

[1] “History, Heritage, and Tradition,” Wendell August Forge,

[2] Benjamin Liebling, “Doing Things the Old-Fashioned Way: Wendell August Forge,”

[3] Ibid.

[4] “History, Heritage, and Tradition.”

[5] “Company History,”

[6] Jeremiah G. Blaylock, prod., “The Wendell August Forge Story” Case Reserve Public Media, 2002,

[7] “History, Heritage, and Tradition.”

[8] Ibid.

[9] “The Wendell August Forge Story”

[10] Moriah Balingit, “Historic Wendell August forge burns to ground,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 7, 2010,

[11] Ibid.

[12]Dave Crawley, “Wendell August Forge Officially Opens New Factory & Flagship Store,” KDKA Pittsburgh, October 29, 2013,

[13] “Old-Fashioned Way”

[14] Ibid.

[15] “Company History.”

All images courtesy of Creative Commons Wendell August Forge Photos by Michael Shang and Seth Thomasmeyer is licensed under CC BY-NC 3.0

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The Allegheny Arsenal Explosion: A Forgotten Tragedy

By: Emily Masters

Overshadowed by some 20,000 casualties at the Battle of Antietam[1], the victims of the Allegheny Arsenal explosion are seldom remembered today. Though 78 lives lost may pale in comparison to the death toll in Sharpsburg that day, September 17th 1862 was the bloodiest day of the Civil War for soldiers and civilians alike. While the human sacrifice at Antietam is memorialized in monuments and sacred grounds that are visited and remembered every day, the site of the arsenal explosion is home to a pharmacy, an industrial park, and a neighborhood baseball field[2]. Unless you’re paying close attention, you could stroll through the site and never know what happened there 150 years ago. Almost entirely women and children, the sacrifice of the explosion’s victim have been largely left out of the grand narrative of the American Civil War.

The cause of the explosion has never been irrefutably confirmed but most sources agree that a horse pulling a delivery of black powder stamped its hoof down on the road newly covered in macadam causing a spark that ignited the powder on the streets.[3] The sparked carried to the powder kegs resulting in the explosion of the laboratory, which was full of women and young girls filling cartridges and canon shells. The same women and children who had assembled the ammunition that was being shot at rebel soldiers at Antietam on the very same day. Newspapers in the days following relayed reports from the front lines of battle at Antietam and Harper’s Ferry in detail, citing the names of officers killed in action and progress of ongoing skirmishes taking place around the country. [4] Most media coverage of the arsenal explosion was limited to a single paragraph and in some cases a single sentence.

“A terrible explosion occurred at the U.S. Arsenal at allegheny City on Wednesday afternoon, resulting in the death of between 75 and 100 people.” The Chicago Times[5] 

Local media coverage of the explosion held more detail and sentiment for the lives that were lost.[6] However, in the years following and up to present day, most accounts of that tragic event focus on the specifics. What blew up first? Who was in charge? Who was to blame? There are horribly detailed accounts of bodies charred and ripped apart and of the families struggling to identify their loved ones in the aftermath of the explosion[7]. It is difficult to discover stories about the victims themselves. They are identified collectively as mostly women and girls of poor working class families. A list of the names marks the mass grave in which the unidentified victims’ bodies were buried in Allegheny Cemetery[8]. The story of their lives however, has faded with the passing of those that remembered them. The story of the explosion itself has similarly faded from public consciousness. Few people today even know about Allegheny Arsenal explosion. Even the plaque erected by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission outside the site professes the importance of the arsenal in multiple wars but says nothing of the Civil War’s greatest civilian tragedy.[9]

Events such as the Allegheny Arsenal Explosion call into question the ways in which our nation remembers its history and how the topics worth remembering change with the passage of time. Though undeniably tragic, the explosion did not have much of a national effect. The arsenal resumed production shortly after. Is this why we don’t remember and learn about it today? Does the lack of national impact lessen the significance of the event? Perhaps on a national scale it does, but even at a local level the arsenal explosion has largely slipped from memory. Students learning about the Civil War all over the United States know that the Battle of Antietam resulted in the largest number of casualties suffered in any single day of the war but there are people playing baseball on the site of the greatest civilian tragedy without even realizing it.


[1] “Casualties of Battle,” National Park Service.

[2] “Pittsburgh History: Tragedy at the Allegheny Arsenal” (Video), Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Jan 27, 2014.

[3] Charles McCollester, The Point of Pittsburgh: Production and Struggle at the Forks of the Ohio (Battle of Homestead Foundation: 2008), 89-93.

[4] The Connersville Weekly Times. September 18th, 1862 pg 2.,-1862?ndt=by&py=1860&pey=1869

[5] The Chicago Times quoted in Dawson’s Daily Times and Union. September 19th, 1862 pg 3.

[6] Immediate Reaction, Allegheny Arsenal Exhibition, the National Archives at Philadelphia.

[7] Erasmus Wilson, Standard History of Pittsburg Pennsylvania (Chicago: H.R. Cornell & Company, 1898) 574.

[8] Tom and Nancy McAdams, “Allegheny Arsenal Monument,” (Updated: March 2008)


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Heritage Narratives and Covered Bridge Festivals in Washington and Greene Counties

By David Breitkreutz

The rugged topography and continental climate of Pennsylvania produced a transportation problem during state’s westward expansion. Covering bridges protected the wooden truss structures from rot caused by inclement weather, and also distributed the weight, making them structurally stronger. By 1900 there were approximately 1500 covered bridges in Pennsylvania, today only a little over 200 are still extant, and 30 covered bridges are in Greene and Washington Counties. Covered bridges in Washington and Greene Counties are typically of the Queenpost Truss style, which present as bridges with additional diagonal timbers allowing for these bridges to be built with greater length.

Bridge-1The recognition of the significance of covered bridges to local heritage is manifested annually. On the weekend of September 20 – 21, 2014, Washington and Greene Counties Tourism Promotion Agencies hosted the 44th Covered Bridge Festival, the official kick-off to the fall season and signature event in the area. There are 10 (8 in Washington County and 2 in Greene County) festival locations, each offering a unique array of entertainment, activities, and crafts and foods from a variety of venders. I attended the festival locations at Ebenezer Bridge in Mingo Creek County Park, Washington County, and at White Bridge in Garards Fort, Greene County.

Bridge-2The Ebenezer Bridge was originally located next to the Ebenezer Church in Fallowfield Township crossing Maple Creek. The bridge relocated to Mingo Creek County Park in 1977 during the construction of Interstate 70. At its present location steel beams were added and extensions to the sidings where made so that it could rest on residual stone and mortar abutments from a previous covered bridge at that site. It is situated along a narrow asphalt path which follows a grassy floodplain within deciduous woods creating an idyllic spot for the bridge as well as an accessible location for heritage tourists. It is one of the most visited covered bridges during the festival. The festival at this location had many craft and food venders lining an approximate ¼ mile of the asphalt path, as well a live country music band, child’s train ride, and a petting zoo. The Ebenezer Bridge was in the middle of all this revelry, but were the patrons of the festival getting an “authentic” historical narrative and appreciation for the covered bridge? According to Tom Walczak, President of the Theodore Burr Covered Bridge Society of Pennsylvania, “people at the festival are not getting a true sense of history of Ebenezer Bridge.” He added that, “what people get out of these festivals is an appreciation of their heritage.”

Bridge-3Conversely, The White Bridge in Garard’s Fort, Greene County, was always situated at its present location spanning Whitely Creek and shows no sign of additional reinforcements, just minor rehabilitation. The date of the bridge’s   being attributed to both 1900 and 1919. This festival included a Civil War re-enactment of a staged “Battle for the Bridge”, upon asking several re-enactors, they confirmed that a Civil War skirmish had not occurred at that location. Further historical inaccuracies at this event included a man scantily clothed as a Huron Indian. Huron Indians are not local to this region—another temporal and spatial disconnect at an event supposedly honoring the White Bridge. This festival also offered living history demonstrations with re-enactors showing how tools were used and made, how quilts were sewn, and how pottery is made. These demonstrations were in keeping with the period of the White Bridge, as well as earlier times in Pennsylvania. The event also hosted horse drawn carriage rides and a live gospel band. At this festival Eben Williams, Executive Director/Administrator at The Greene County Historical Society and Museum, said “people get a sense of civic pride towards the bridge” and that the re-enactors were brought in to “tell a story of a shared past” and to “draw people to the event.” Another observation made was during a brief downpour of rain. A few people left the covered bridge to seek shelter in the temporary pop up tents that the venders used. I was among a few other people along with a horse drawn wagon, driver, and passengers that stayed under the cover the bridge provided. An elderly guest told me that “it looks like they didn’t know the covered bridge is here.” Did the runners subconsciously decide that seeking shelter under the covered bridge was disrespectful to the history and heritage? Whatever their motives it is clear that at this event the White Covered Bridge was an afterthought and was in the background, even though it was the reason for the festival.

Folk memories are a dominant theme in rural heritage narratives in Pennsylvania. Covered bridges are a nostalgic symbol within some of these stories of rural life and simpler times. The state, county, and local politicians, as well as the people of Pennsylvania, have had enough foresight to preserve, maintain, and restore many of these beautiful and historic pieces of heritage so that the public can enjoy them in the present day. The commodification of heritage can influence which heritage narratives are presented to the public. Of particular interest is whether the patrons of these covered bridge festivals are getting an accurate sense of history or whether they are getting a guileless and oddly sentimental version of their heritage

Covered bridges are an important part of transportation history in Washington and Greene Counties. At the festival their importance is undervalued because they are used as a commodity. However, the money generated by the festival is used to preserve many historical properties throughout the two counties, so the festival have monetary value to heritage and history. Local heritage is still important even if historical accuracy is thrown to the wind at these festivals. History is about people, through public folk narratives we can all gain a better appreciation of how these historic sites should be represented.

Additional Images:

Horse & bridge

Plate 2. Horse drawn carriage waiting out rain under the cover of the White Bridge


Plate 3. Civil War re-enactors camped at the White Bridge


Plate 4. Vender pop up tents at Ebenezer Bridge

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Tales from the Tower: A Summer of Documents and Discovery

By Jon Bogart

IMG_0651During the summer months of 2014 I had the opportunity to serve as an intern at the Pennsylvania State Archives through the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) internship program. The internship took place in Harrisburg, within the massive capitol complex, which is home to various state government agencies. The State Archives primarily collects, preserves, and makes available records of the Commonwealth. This mostly encompasses the documents of government agencies, but also includes items that belonged to private companies and citizens. The summer was full of projects, field trips, and experiences, which strengthened my skills as an archivist as well as my desire to one day enter the field.

While at the State Archives I worked within the digital archives record division on a number of projects that varied in size and format. Work primarily revolved around the process of digitizing large format documents, which mostly included maps and railroad schematics. I also had the opportunity to take part in the acquisition process for a set of records from start to finish. The operation began with the initial appraisal run and concluded with placing labels on the cartons and finding a permanent home for them within the tower. The collection was the largest I had ever handled, containing forty-two cubic feet worth of documents.Screen Shot 2014-09-01 at 9.05.26 PM

In the time between large-scale projects, I developed the everyday skills archivists must have to properly do their job. This involved fulfilling reference requests for patrons, monitoring the climate of the tower, as well as monitoring the inventory of the tower where the documents were stored. I further honed my skills by participating in training sessions and workshops on preservation, disaster response, and general archival practices. Administrative meetings gave me a complete picture of how the institution functioned from top to bottom. Each assignment and workshop session helped me to better understand how even the smallest job fit into the big picture of the archives and PHMC as a whole.


Field trips were worked in over the course of the summer to give more examples of real world scenarios and demonstrate the diversity within the field. Outings included tours of the capitol complex buildings as well as historic sites run by the PHMC. The highlight of the summer was the opportunity to visit a federal, state, university, and county archive all within a single day. Each location varied in size, mission, and funding, yet they all had the same core goals in mind when it came to the preservation and presentation of the past.

During the length of the internship I was supervised by one of the state archivists in order to track my progress and designate new projects to work on. Fortunately I was surrounded by staff that always had valuable information to pass on and had a knowledgeable mentor that was also a graduate of IUP from the same degree program I am presently in. This gave me an extra boost of confidence knowing that an IUP alumnus was able to secure a position within an institution like the State Archives. My mentor provided excellent instruction and helped me to strengthen the archival skills I developed at IUP while also teaching me a few new tricks of the trade.

The archival principles course I took at IUP gave me the experience I needed to take part in the internship, which in turn strengthened the skills I learned at IUP. Spending the summer at the State Archives was an excellent investment and I walked away feeling more knowledgeable and confident regarding various aspects of archival theory and practice. The experience I gained not only strengthened my skills as an archivist, but also strengthened my desire to one day enter the field. I am truly grateful to have worked with such a dedicated staff this summer and will take the vast amount of information I learned and apply it this coming semester and beyond.


Jon Bogart is a second year graduate student at IUP, working on his MA in Public History with a focus on archival methods.

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