Update on Historic Pittsburgh
The Historic Pittsburgh website, managed and hosted by the University of Pittsburgh's Digital Research Library, allows users to explore the archival and manuscript collections of a number of Pittsburgh-area cultural heritage institutions. Its collections have grown since I first profiled this site in 2005. They now include:
Full-Text Collection: This collection contains over 1,200 works from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and includes the Historic Pittsburgh General Text Collection (general histories and historical overviews) and historic Pittsburgh city directories published between 1815 and 1945. Enter a keyword in the search box to execute a Quick Search of the collections. Click on the “More search options” link to open a new page with advanced options for searching the collections. With the basic search you can search the database for keywords found in the full text, author name, work’s title, or subject. Boolean, proximity, and bibliographic searches are also available. Your search history is recorded under the History tab. Click on the collection’s title link to open a new page with an option to browse through the complete list of books. The General Text collection can be browsed by author or by title. The City Directories collection can be browsed by date or by title.
Maps Collection: There are five series of maps in the Historic Pittsburgh Maps collection. These include:
Darlington Digital Library Maps: More than seventy maps “created in the mid-18th through early-20th centuries [that] depict Pittsburgh or Allegheny County, including maps of Fort Pitt, plans of Pittsburgh, maps of Pittsburgh and Allegheny cities, Bird's-eye maps of Carnegie, Duquesne, Glassport, Homestead, and other western Pennsylvania cities.”
G. M. Hopkins Company Maps, 1872–1940: More than 1,800 map plates from forty-seven volumes are available in this collection. Originally published by the G. M. Hopkins Company, the maps cover the greater Pittsburgh area from 1872 to 1940 and show lot and block numbers, dimensions, street widths, and names of property owners, as well as churches, cemeteries, mills, schools, roads, and railroads. The collection is searchable by street name, building name, and building type. You can download map plate images as 200 dpi JPEG files for noncommercial and educational purposes. Reproductions of the map plates are available for purchase.
Warrantee Atlas of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, 1914: Shows original land grants that settlers in what is now Allegheny County received from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Includes the name of the grantee, the date the land was warranted and surveyed, the property dimensions, and patent information. The atlas can be browsed by plate number or the last name of the original owner. You can download map plate images as 200 dpi JPEG files. Reproductions of the maps are available for purchase.
Historic Pittsburgh Image Collections: Offers access to nearly 28,000 visual images from 59 collections held by eleven Pittsburgh-area institutions. Click on the Explore link to browse by theme, time, location, or collection. Themes include Pittsburgh at Work, Pittsburgh at Play, Pittsburgh at Home, and Pittsburgh Personalities. You can execute a quick search by entering a keyword in the search box on the Images main page. Click on the Search link to access the site’s advanced search capabilities. Keyword searches of the image database are limited to image title, creator, description date, subject, image identifier, or file name. Searches can be restricted to a particular collection or set of collections.
Other resources include census schedules for Pittsburgh for 1850–1880 and Allegheny County for 1850–1870, an online chronology of Pittsburgh from 1717 through 2011, and brief film clips by a local filmmaker, Bill Beal, that document Pittsburgh life between 1968 and 1983.