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Cambria County, PA history

Johnstown, Pennsylvania, the Great Flood, and since...

Several months before Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the US Gulf Coast, we had started collecting historical material for a CD-ROM on the Johnstown Flood of 1889.  It was clear to us that the Johnstown Flood was an incident of local history that had a national impact -- and that a Johnstown Flood CD-ROM belonged in our local history catalog.

In due time, we published that CD and a fair number of copies were sold.  (If you happen to be one of the purchasers, thank you for your business, and we hope you enjoyed the CD!  However, time goes by and technology advances.  A year or two ago, we began hearing from would-be customers who needed the material on the CD, but whose computers no longer even had CD-ROM drives.  We responded to them by issuing some of the material on the CD as downloads, and eventually reached the point where everything that had been on the CD was now available for download -- and we noticed that it had been several months since we had sold a copy of the CD. 

Well, it was time.   We no longer offer the Johnstown CD, but we do offer all the material on it for download.  

Johnstown Flood: temporary buildings

About the Johnstown Flood:

Since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, commentators have pointed out that there have been disasters in American history to which they beg comparison.  We found columnist David Brooks' New York Times Op Ed piece on September 1, 2005, entitled "The Storm After the Storm" particularly provocative -- including his allusions to the Johnstown Flood and its aftermath.  The aftermath of the great Johnstown Flood, by the way, included the Progressive movement in the United States, which Brooks notes was crystallized by the Johnstown Flood.

There are other similarities worth noting.  Just as they did in New Orleans, the poor in Johnstown lived next to the water.  And, "the" Johnstown flood was really only the biggest of many Johnstown floods, which both preceded and followed the big one. The 1889 flood was remarkable really because a dam upstream burst and made the usual flooding into a catastrophe of proportions that are still considered epic.  The people of Johnstown, like the people of New Orleans, had for decades feared that a man-made device to hold back the waters would ultimately fail and that catastrophe would be the result.  In both cases  the fears of the hapless residents were justified.

Ultimately, whether you're interested in Johnstown because you had family who lived there, because you're a current resident of the area, because you have an interest in Pennsylvania history, because you are interested in how our nation historically has reacted to disasters, because you are interested in the history of the development of the iron and steel industry in America (the Cambria Iron and Steel Company was important in this respect), or for some other reason, we hope the material we have collected about Johnstown, PA will be of interest to you.

(Click on any of the images below to see a full-sized version)

==History of the Great Flood in Johnstown, PA, May 31, 1889 by which Ten Thousand Lives Were Lost, by J. S. Ogilvie (1889). 224 pages.  This is not our favorite Johnstown flood book.  Three notable more or less contemporary books about the Johnstown flood were rushed into print soon after the disaster, of which two appear on this CD-ROM.  This one is a fast read -- and really quite captivating -- and contains all the errors, misstatements, prejudices, melodrama, and hype that characterized accounts of the flood at the time.  224 pages, in PDF format, download now for $4.50. 


Ogilvie title page


==Commencement program for the Class of 1950 of Johnstown High School.  This is an interesting study in surnames, even if you know no one who graduated that year.  The iron industry was a microcosm of the American melting pot, and it still echoed in the names of the 1950 Johnstown High School graduates.  13 pages, in PDF format, download now for $2.25.

Johnstown HS 1950 Commencement program cover



==Promotion Exercises of Cochran Junior High School, Johnstown, PA, 1929.  Oddly, the surnames in this graduation program 21 years earlier do not reflect the ethnic diversity that the 1950 program does.  One can only speculate why this would be the case.   Five pages, in PDF format, download now for $1.50.

Cochran JHS Commencement program cover

==History of the Johnstown Flood by Willis Fletcher Johnson (1889).  459 pages.  This book is our favorite of the two contemporaneous "flood books" on this CD-ROM.  First off, it contains a number of photographs of Johnstown after the flood.  It is considerably more comprehensive in its reporting on the recovery efforts -- and, interestingly, it identifies many of the donors to the relief effort. We were surprised to see the extent to which the Wall Street community opened their wallets in support of this working class disaster.   459 pages, in PDF format, download now for $5.00.


Cover of Johnson book   Map of Johnstown flood area   Title page from Johnson book


=="High Fever Follies II" program of the 1958 benefit production of the Junior Auxiliary of Memorial Hospital, Johnstown.  52 pages.  If you enjoy social history, this program provides a vignette of the social life of an upper or upper-middle class woman in a small industrial city in 1950s America.  If your roots are in Johnstown, there will be many reminders here of "the old days".  The ads alone -- many of which feature Junior Auxiliary members (and in some cases family members) as models in the photos -- are quite remarkable.  There are also two pages of photos of the children and, we suppose, the grandchildren, of the members.  52 pages, in PDF format, download now for $3.00.


Cover of Hi-Fever Follies


==Some FREE pictures of the Johnstown area from our collection in PDF format, including:

--Some news photos of the Johnstown flood of 1936

--A few postcards from our collection of Johnstown views. 

CLICK HERE to download with our compliments.

==The Johnstown High School Spectator for the class of 1921 1/2, Johnstown, PA.  This document is a combination high school yearbook and literary magazine evidently the magazine was a monthly publication during the school year principally dedicated to the January 1922 graduating class of JHS.  Half-year graduating classes have not been common in the United States, and we have seen fewer yearbooks devoted to them, so this is an unusual document.  The cover was missing from the issue we obtained, and a portion of the page with the president and perhaps another officer of the class on one side, and the photos of two graduates whose names appear ahead of Bantly in the alphabet, are likewise missing.  110+ pages, PDF format, download now for $4.75.

Johnstown HS Spectator Class of 1921 1/2

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Between the Lakes Group is located at 372 Between the Lakes Road, in Salisbury, Litchfield County, Connecticut.  More specifically, we're in Taconic -- a hamlet  in the Twin Lakes area of the Town of Salisbury.  Questions about us or about our products?  Go to our Frequently Asked Questions page.  

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