ABOUT THE COLLECTION

 

The Western Pennsylvania Foodways Collection uses food as a tool to document the stories of our region and uncover a meaningful past.

Our goal is to collect and share oral history interviews, as well as contextual material such as, recipes, images, video, and written text, to document the agriculture and food stories of the region. This collection provides a home for food, labor, and gender knowledge that may have otherwise gone undiscovered. This collection also provides evidence of culture and food labors of many people, including women and ethnic-racial groups who are often underrepresented in historical narratives. By collecting these stories, we honor the men and women whose hard work enriches the landscape of Southwest Pennsylvania's food and culture. 

Our First Projects

Babka and Beyond: Bread, Grains, and Baked Goods in Western Pennsylvania

From Noodles to Naan: Grains and Diverse Foodways

“Buckwheat” County: The Agricultural History from Seed to Mill

Italian-American Foodways: An Exploration of the Italian-American food experience in Pittsburgh

 

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BABKA AND BEYOND: BREAD, GRAINS, AND BAKED GOODS IN WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA

 

The Project

This flagship project of the Western Pennsylvania Foodways Collection explored in-depth stories about how grains -- from agriculture to bread making and baking -- can contribute to larger themes of identity, community, and social capital. Through this project, we aimed to better understand how people interact with the food system through the most basic of needs: bread. Bread defines community --  through the type of grain used, the method of preparing and cooking, and perhaps most importantly, with whom people break bread. Those similarities and differences cut across regions, cultures, and nations.  This project relied on a common approach to oral history as a research method that uncovers the experiences of people and place through food.

This project encompasses a series of oral history interviews that aim to document a previously undocumented segment of Western Pennsylvania culture and labor. The project includes forty interviews, audio and video clips, and workshops and events, all encompassing either grains cultivation (farms and mills) or grains production (bakeries and baked goods businesses).

The Region

For this project, we focused our interviews within the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area. The Rivers of Steel Heritage area is a federally designated region in southwestern Pennsylvania, focused on the promotion of the area's rich culture and history, specifically within the steel industry. By aligning the regions in which major industry took place, we can draw comparisons and contrasts between the baking and the steel industries, specifically within themes of labor and place.

The national heritage area encompasses the following counties: Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Greene, Fayette, Washington, and Westmoreland. 

 
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The Interviews

 

Nigel Tudor, Weatherbury Farms

Lyle Ferderber, Frankferd Farms

Becca Hegarty, Bitter Ends Garden & Luncheonette

Alex Sanchioli, Sanchioli Brothers Bakery

Scott Baker, 5 Generations Baking

Naomi Costello, Friendship Farms

Jamie Gallagher and Marlene Bowen, The Pretzel Shop

Kristen Peffer and Joanie Sinz, Two Fraus Bakery

Marc Serrao, Oakmont Bakery

Mark Zanella, Zanella Milling

Pat French, West Homestead Baking Co.

Ed Markoff, West Homestead Baking Co.

Joseph Chahine, Pitaland

Clyde Hennings, Loafers Bread

Ally Slayden, Butterwood Bake Consortium

Father Paul Taylor, St. Vincent Gristmill

Catherin Rodgers, Laguerhaus Bakery

Seth Murphy, Wunderbar Coffee and Crepes

Diane Rutten, Kullmans Bakery

Terina Hicks, Cobbler World Baked Goods

Nate Johnson, Wildfire Bread

Shauna Kearns, Braddock Community Oven

Jim Patterson, Harmony Farm

Neil Blazen, Driftwood Oven

Carl Vitti, Nabisco

Kathy Monezis Harvey, Minerva Bakery

Andrea Schrenk, La Normande

Heather Sprague, Novel Bread Co.

Mary Mancini Hunter and Nick Mancini Hunter, Mancini's Bakery

Noreen Halvonik, George Washington's Grist Mill

Paul Roth, Roth Milling

Fred Hartman, Breadworks

Stan Malecki, McConnell's Mill State Park

Brian, Oram's Donuts

Kristi DeMaiolo Harper, Cafe Kolache

Larry Kozlowski, Polish Food Historian

Kristina Taylor, Knox Bakery

Caroline McCullon, Wesley Grange Buckwheat Supper

John Moreira, Villa Maria Farm

 

Listen Now

Audio interviews can be found through Artstor Public’s Collection, as well as through Chatham University's Library Archives and Special Collections 

Video clips, photographs, full transcriptions, and more audio will continue to be added to both links! Please reach out to us at craft@chatham.edu with any questions.

READ NOW

Read some articles, listen to audio clips, and watch videos about this project in CRAFT media!

Two Fraus Bakery

Bread and the Connection to Place