Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Digital Resource: Beyond Steel

Logo for Beyond Steel project
Beyond Steel: An Archive of Lehigh Valley Industry and Culture is a website produced by the Lehigh University Library, under the editorship of John K. Smith. The site
highlights the Lehigh Valley's mid- nineteenth-century boom, late twentieth-century decline and continuing community readjustment. Through the digitization and presentation of letters, books, photographs, maps, essays, and oral histories the site will aid researchers in understanding not only the lives of railroad barons and steel titans, but also the experiences of average folks who worked and lived in the community.
The website, which is updated when new materials are available, is divided into several sections, including "Business & Technology," "Society & Culture," and "Mapping." The latter category contains a Historical GIS rendering of Bethlehem in 1900, based on "Sanborn fire insurance maps, Sholes' Directory of the Bethlehems, 1900-1901, 1900-1902 Bethlehem Steel employee lists, a contemporary database of streets, and selected information from the 1900 Census report." The result is "a geospatial presentation of turn of the century Bethlehem population and a context for more specialized visualization of workers in the steel industry." There is also a lengthy essay on "Iron and Steel in the Lehigh Valley," written by Smith, who teaches at Lehigh University. Among business historians, he is perhaps best known as the co-author (with David Hounshell) of Science and Corporate Strategy: DuPont R&D, 1902-1980 (1988).