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Penn State University Beaver Campus Library As A Resource Center

Milestones Vol 2 No 1-Winter 1976

A question that the local historian frequently asks is where do I go to get information on my subject?" There are many sources of information; the local historical society is obviously a major source, or perhaps some knowledgeable individual or group in the community. This article will attempt to describe another source of information for the local historian, especially the Beaver Countian, The Pennsylvania State University Beaver Campus Library in Monaca.

The shelves of the Beaver Campus Library contain over 25,300 volumes plus 160 periodicals. Within this sizeable collection there is a wealth of information for the local historian if he/she has the imagination to use it. For the purpose of organization let us examine the collection frorn four different ways as a source of local history.

First, works dealing specifically with Beaver County. There are the standard works such as Bausman's two volume HISTORY OF BEAVER COUNTY and Caldwell's ATLAS OF BEAVER COUNTY, 1876. Other county histories may be obtained from the main library at University Park. A list of these is available by asking for "Reel Index to the Microform Collection of Pennsylvania County and Regional Histories." Recent publications such as BEAVER TOWN and IT HAPPENED RIGHT HERE are automatically added to the collection.

The library maintains a vertical file which contains such items as the recent newspaper supplements commemorating the 175th anniversary of the county; copies of commemoration and anniversary booklets; dedication and program booklets from various communities in the county, and historical booklets and pamphlets published by local historical societies. Among some of the items found in the file are: pamphlets such as "The Public Squares in Beaver," by Daniel Agnew; Chalmer Elder's "Short History of Darlington" and the Beaver Area Foundation's "Matthew Stanley Quay." Also included in the file are programs from the dedication of Center Township Municipal Center and Park; dedication program and booklet of the Court House Annex and the Beaver Falls Centennial Booklet. Miscellaneous county government and agency publications as well as a growing number of papers on local subjects done by my students at the campus can be found in the vertical file.

Beaver County newspapers on microfilm such as the Aliquippa GAZETTE, ARGUS AND RADICAL, the BEAVER ARGUS AND RADICAL, will shortly be added to the collection. The library currently has a collection of Pennsylvania newspapers on microfilm covering the Civil War period.

Second way to look at the collection is through the many works on Pennsylvania history which are available in the library. Among the general histories there are such works as the recent and very well done HISTORY OF PENNSYLVANIA by Philip Klein and Ari Hoogenboom; other works include George P. Donehoo's, PENNSYLVANIA: A HISTORY, five volumes, and Sylvester K. Stevens, PENNSYLVANIA: BIRTHPLACE OF A NATION. Among some of the fine monographs in the collection are John Bodnar, THE ETHNIC EXPERIENCE IN PENNSYLVANIA, George Swetnam's, PENNSYLVANIA TRANSPORTATION, and Robert L. Brunhouse's THE COUNTER-REVOLUTION

IN PENNSYLVANIA, 1776-1790. Periodical literature includes such standards as "Pennsylvania History," "Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography," "Pennsylvania Folklife," "Western Pennsylvania History Magazine," and of course "Milestones."

This is only a small sample of the many general works available at the library. Many others are available through the University's main' library, Pattee at University Park. The card catalog of Pattee is on microfilm at the Beaver Campus and residents may use it to order books and periodical articles. In addition to these works on Pennsylvania history there are many general studies and monographs on American history.

The third way to use the library to get information on local history is to use the many reference works available. This is an invaluable tool which will help locate books, articles and depositories of documents and papers. Norman B. Wilkinson's BIBLIOGRAPHY OF PENNSYLVANIA HISTORY (1957) is obviously one of the best places to begin. It lists books, pamphlets, articles, and other printed sources. Though it is outdated it provides a good starting point.; The indexes to the various periodicals on Pennsylvania history can update Wilkinson. Other aids are: PRELIMINARY GUIDE TO THE RESEARCH MATERIALS OF THE PENNSYLVANIA HISTORICAL AND MUSEUM COMMISSION; Ruth Salisbury's PENNSYLVANIA NEWSPAPERS, a checklist of all newspapers ever published in Pennsylvania and where copies may be found- Sherman Day's HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS OF THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA, are among some of the works which specifically relate to the state. There are, however, a number of other general reference works which can help the researcher find more recent material, for example, "American History and Life" Series provides an abstract of articles and books published on American history. The series publication is broken down by topic and region and thus local historians may occasionally find things of interest. Indexes to the New York Times, American Historical Review and the Journal of American History may also be useful.

Among major reference works in American history the library has the HARVARD GUIDE TO AMERICAN HISTORY and the GUIDE TO THE STUDY OF AMERICAN HISTORY.

The fourth way to use the library's collection for local history is to use the various local, state, and national statistical publications. These sources provide a great deal of information, both current and historical, on the social, political, ethnic and economic background of a community.

One of the best places to start is with the Federal decennial census. The library has on microfilm the federal manuscript census for Beaver County from 1790 to 1880. Aside from enumerating the population for the apportionment of representation in Congress, these cebsuses, especially those of 1850-1880, collected an extraordinary array of data on the status of industry and agriculture; the resources of schools, libraries and churches. The social-economic historian and the genealogist will find literally a rich treasure of information. The library also has the published volume of the Pennsylvania census of 1790. Also available is the invaluable "A Century of Population Growth, 1790-1900." For anyone interested in population trends in their community, during the nineteenth century, this work is an invaluable guide. The library collection also contains the Bureau of Census publications: HISTORICAL STATISTICS OF THE UNITED STATES; COUNTY AND CITY DATE BOOK (1962); and various abstracts of the federal census for Pennsylvania.

There are several publications on the state level which provide information on development of the state as a whole and regionally. The PENNSYLVANIA MANUAL and reports from various state agencies are available in the library.

County publications include such annual reports as the Controller's; Industrial Development Authority, Beaver County Planning and Zoning and miscellaneous agencies. One source of information about the people and communities can be found in the City Directories. The library only has a few of these but they are an important source of demographic patterns.

This essay on sources of local history available at the Beaver Campus Library is not intended to be exhaustive. The intention was only to point up some of the more obvious sources. It is up to the imagination, ingenuity and perseverance of you, the local historian, now to use them and anything else you may find to tell the story of your community and its people.