small text medium text large text

Archaeology in Pittsburgh
A Reading List


"Pieces of the Past: Archaeology in Pittsburgh" was a temporary exhibit at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History Gallery (24 March 1987 - June 1988). On display were many nineteenth-century artifacts that Museum of Natural History archaeologists uncovered during excavations at several downtown Pittsburgh construction sites, including what is now PPG Place. In addition to explaining how the excavations were carried out, the exhibit highlighted seven craftspeople who lived and worked in Pittsburgh in the 1850s. Instead of presenting an in-depth cultural study, "Pieces of the Past" offered fragments that provided new insights into Pittsburgh's past. It was designed to stimulate interest in Pittsburgh's past as well as urban archaeology. The following list of books and articles was prepared to encourage additional research in these areas.

Compiled by Dr. Verna L. Cowin, Assistant Curator of Anthropology, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, in conjunction with Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

Up  Return to the top


Archaeology in Pittsburgh

Cowin, Verna L.
Pittsburgh Archaeological Resources and National Register Survey
Pittsburgh and Harrisburg: Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission,
and Pittsburgh Department of City Planning, 1985.
Cowin, Verna L.
"Urban Archaeology at the PPG Site."
Carnegie Magazine 56 (7), 1983.
Swauger, James L.
"The Music Bastion at Fort Pitt."
Carnegie Magazine 42, 1968.
Swauger, James L.
"Digging Up Fort Pitt."
The Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine 6 (2), 1977.
Swauger, James L., and Lang, Richard W.
"Excavations at the Music Bastion of Fort Pitt."
Annals of Carnegie Museum 39, 1967.

Up  Return to the top


General Histories -- Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania

Reference rooms at Carnegie Library, the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, and the Darlington Room in the University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning all have city and county histories, many of which comprise several volumes. Listed below are some of the more popular accounts.

Baldwin, Leland D.
Pittsburgh: The Story of a City
Museum Commission, Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1937.
Buck, Solon J. and Elizabeth H.
The Planting of Civilization in Western Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1939.
Craig, Neville B.
History of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh: J. R. Weldin Co., 1917.
A reprint of Craig's 1851 history.
Lorant, Stefan.
Pittsburgh: The Story of an American City
Garden City, N.Y., Doubleday [1964] (original edition)
Four later editions published

Up  Return to the top


The Great Fire of 1845

Accounts of the fire are contained in most of the standard histories of Pittsburgh. Specific articles about the fire include:

Adams, Marcelin C.
"Pittsburgh's Great Fire of 1845."
The Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine 25 (1, 2), 1942.
Arensberg, Charles F. C.
"The Pittsburgh Fire of April 10, 1845."
The Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine 28 (1, 2), 1945.
Montgomery, David.
"Notes on the Big Fire of 1845."
The Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine 27, 1944.

Up  Return to the top


Native Americans

Lorant, Stefan, ed.
The New World: The First Pictures of America
New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1965.
For early engravings of North American Indians by European artists.
Mayer-Oakes, W. J.
"Prehistory of the Upper Ohio Valley."
Annals of Carnegie Museum 34, 1955.
Although somewhat outdated, the best general reference for Indian cultures in the Upper Ohio Valley.
Wallace, Paul A. W.
Indian Paths of Pennsylvania
Harrisburg: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1965.
Complete descriptions of Indian paths, including directions on how to locate them via modern highways.
The Pennsylvania Archaeologist 1-56, 1930-1986
Published by the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology.
For specific site reports and general information about archaeology in the Upper Ohio Valley.

Up  Return to the top


Military Period

James, Alfred Procter, and Stotz, Charles Morse
Drums in the Forest
F 152.J32 2005x
Pittsburgh: Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, 1958. Reprint with a new forward, 2005.
The best reference on Pittsburgh's forts.
Stotz, Charles Morse
Outposts Of The War For Empire: The French And English In Western Pennsylvania : Their Armies, Their Forts, Their People, 1749-1764
PENNA rq F152 .S86 1985x
PENNA rq F152.S86 2005x
Originally published by the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania in 1985. In Outposts of the War for Empire, Charles Morse Stotz offers a highly detailed account of what colonial forts looked like, where they stood, who built them and why, what materials were used in building them, and how they varied in design to fit different military purposes.

Up  Return to the top


Frontier Period

Dahlinger, Charles W.
Pittsburgh: A Sketch of Its Early Social Life
New York and London: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1916.
PENNA F159.P6 D14
Douds, Howard C.
"Merchants and Merchandising in Pittsburgh, 1759-1800."
The Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine 20 (2), 1937.
Broudy, Eric
The Book of Looms: a history of the handloom from ancient times to the present
New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., 1979.
An illustrated book on looms.
Arbor, Marilyn
Tools and Trades of America's Past: The Mercer Collection
Doylestown, PA: Bucks County Historical Society, 1981.
Simple and illustrated descriptions of working with textile fibers and spinning (pages 78-79).

Up  Return to the top


Commercial Period

Consult general Pittsburgh histories for this period. For information on lighting devices see Marilyn Arbor's book above.

Reiser, Catherine
Pittsburgh's Commercial Development, 1800-1850
Harrisburg: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1951.
HF3163.P6 R4

Up  Return to the top


Industrial Workshop

Couvares, Francis G.
The Remaking of Pittsburgh: Class and Culture in an Industrializing City, 1877-1919
Albany: State University of New York Press, 1984
HN80.P6 C68 1984
An excellent short account about craftsmen of this period.
Innes, Lowell
Pittsburgh Glass, 1797-1891
Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1976
q NK5112 .I55
For the history of Pittsburgh's glass industries.

Up  Return to the top


Nineteenth-Century Crafts, Craftspeople and Their Tools

The craftspeople in "Pieces of the Past" include Margaret Bonnaffon, dressmaker and milliner; James Bennett, potter; J. C. Buffum, bottler; John Dunlap and John Fleming, tinners; Eli Edmundson, upholsterer; and William Thorn, druggist. Most of the biographical material in the exhibit came from contemporary newspapers, especially advertisements, and city directories. Tax, credit, and deed records added to the data bank. General information about crafts and colonial artifacts is contained in Marilyn Arbor's book.

Noel-Hume, Ivor
A Guide to Artifacts of Colonial America
Originally published: New York: Alfred Knopf, 1969.
Multiple editions available.
Sloane, Eric
A Museum of Early American Tools
Originally published: New York : Funk & Wagnalls, 1964.
Multiple editions available.
Tunis, Edwin
Colonial Craftsmen and the Beginnings of American Industry
Originally published: Cleveland: World Publishing, 1965.
Multiple editions available.

Up  Return to the top



Also see Peterson's Magazines and Godey's Lady's Books for period dress.

Kidwell, Claudia B.
Cutting a Fashionable Fit
Washington, D. C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1979.
McClellan, Elisabeth.
Historic Dress in America, 1607-1870
Reprint of the author's Historic dress in America, 1607-1800 (published in 1904) and Historic dress in America, 1800-1870 (published in 1910) and first reissued as a one volume edition by B. Blom (1969)
Waugh, Norah
The Cut of Men's Clothes, 1600-1900
London: Faber & Faber, 1964.
Waugh, Norah
The Cut of Women's Clothes, 1600-1930
New York: Theatre Arts Books, 1968.

Up  Return to the top



Leibowitz, Joan
Yellow Ware: The Transitional Ceramic
Exton, PA: Schiffer Publishing Co., 1985.
For photographs and descriptions of yellow ware, one of the ceramics made by Bennett & Bro.
Stradling, Diana, ed.
The Art of the Potter: Redware and Stoneware
New York: Universe Books, 1977.
For articles on American pottery, including stoneware and redware.

Up  Return to the top



A transcription of J. C. Buffum's diary is housed in the Pennsylvania Department. Of interest are his detailed explanations, including costs, of his travels to and from California during the mid-nineteenth century.


Up  Return to the top



Kauffman, Henry J.
Early American Copper, Tin, and Brass: Hand-crafted metalware from colonial times
New York: Medill McBride Company, 1950.
Lansansky, Jeannette
To Cut, Piece, and Solder: The Work of the Rural Pennsylvania Tinsmith, 1778-1908
University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1982.
Smith, Elmer L.
Tinware: Yesterday and Today
Lebanon, PA: Applied Arts Publishers, 1974.

Up  Return to the top


Woodworking and Furniture

Bealer Alex W.
The Tools That Built America
New York: Bonanza Books, 1980.
Discusses the hand tools used in woodworking and furniture-making.

Up  Return to the top


Drugs and Medicine

Devner, Kay
At the Sign of the Mortar
Tucson, AZ: Devner, 1970.
Jackson, W. A.
The Victorian Chemist and Druggist
Aylesbury, England: Shire Publications, 1981.