Let’s play word association.
Pittston history — Anthracite coal mining.
That would be a natural response, but on Pittston History Day, Greater Pittston residents can learn, as Julio Caprari, vice president of the Greater Pittston Historical Society put it, “there are many facets to Pittston history.”
History Day is from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 22, at the Pittston City Fire Department Caprari said History Day is a chance “for the community to get together to celebrate the history of Pittston.”
Granted coal is a major driver of interest in the city’s past, but pre-Columbian and Native American culture, colonialism, transportation — including railroads, the canal and trollies — religion, ethnic immigration, social organizations — such as the Montedoro Society, Sons of St. Patrick and the Knights of Lithuania — business and industry — including railroading, mining and garment — organized labor — such as the mine workers unions and the ILGWU — the darker side of organized crime, and even contemporary history — such as the recent redevelopment of the downtown — are all themes for Pittston History Day.
Visitors to the fire hall on Saturday will find descriptions of the above activities and organizations and photos and artifacts of beloved pieces of the city’s history, including Bone Stadium, American Theatre, Pittston Stove Works, Glennon Brewery, Howell and King Brewery, Pittston Police Chief Joe Delaney, Welsh Baptist Church, Pittston City Hall, Pittston Cemetery, Pittston High School and more.
Visitors can tour the historic firehouse, see artifacts from local area digs presented by the Frances Dorrance Chapter of Pennsylvania Archaeological Society, and meet the Widows Wandering — Julie Esty and Wendy Conrad Belaski — who will present memorabilia and funeral and mourning practices from the 1860s. Ed Philbin, railroad historian and active railroader, will display memorabilia and discuss local rail history.
History Day is also a call to local folks to add to preservation and documentation of the city’s history. Visitors are urged to bring historical items of all kinds, including photos, yearbooks, event programs, documents, maps, uniforms, tools, badges, patches, advertising, family histories or anything pertaining to local history.
Items can be donated or loaned to the Historical Society for display. Photos can be scanned on the spot to be digitally preserved and returned to the owner.
At the last meeting of the GPHS board, Caprari announced the GPHS is now the custodian of all 70 years of hard copies of the Sunday Dispatch collection, containing 4,160 issues of the paper.
The society hopes to digitize the archive at a cost of almost $40,000.
GPHS is calling for the help of individuals, organizations and businesses to assist with fundraising for the archival effort.
Another type of fundraising was a point of discussion at the last board meeting. The society is encouraging local businesses and organizations to obtain GPHS Business Memberships at $100 per year. As of now, only 10 businesses have memberships. Memberships from individuals and businesses are the society’s main source of revenue. The society is a 501c3 organization, so the membership donation is tax deductible.
To help, donate or for more information, contact Julio Caprari at 570-592-3966, or firstname.lastname@example.org or ask for him at History Day.