Pittsburg, Kansas (Images of America Series) by Randy Roberts, Janette Mauk |, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Pittsburg, Kansas (Images of America Series)

Pittsburg, Kansas (Images of America Series)

by Randy Roberts, Janette Mauk

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Pittsburg was purposely located in the center of the Cherokee-Crawford coal field of southeastern Kansas in 1876. The city's founders intended for the new mining camp to serve as a convenient shipping point for the tons of bituminous coal that would be extracted from the region. Little did the founders anticipate how quickly Pittsburg would become the dominant


Pittsburg was purposely located in the center of the Cherokee-Crawford coal field of southeastern Kansas in 1876. The city's founders intended for the new mining camp to serve as a convenient shipping point for the tons of bituminous coal that would be extracted from the region. Little did the founders anticipate how quickly Pittsburg would become the dominant city in the rapidly industrialized southeastern corner of Kansas and one of the most populous cities in the state. Immigrants from over 50 ethnic groups came to Pittsburg to provide the necessary labor for the deep-shaft coal mines, the railroads, and many other industries. Pittsburg State University, established in 1903 as a manual training school, is one of the most significant features of modern-day Pittsburg and is widely recognized for excellence in academics and athletics.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Title: Historical photos fill new book

Author: Staff Writer

Publisher: The Joplin Globe

Date: 2/15/2009

Like a librarian who is asked to pick a favorite book, archivists Randy Roberts and Janette Mauk have a hard time picking just one favorite historical photograph of Pittsburg.

They had an even harder time picking the 200 photographs they needed to fill their 128-page book, "Images of Pittsburg" (Arcadia Publishing), which comes out today.

The company publishes similar books in communities across the nation using a formulaic approach that allows for a certain number of words and photographs.

"Thank goodness they let me stretch a little; I tend to be wordier," said Roberts, who is the director of special collections at Axe Library at Pittsburg State University.

It was difficult to narrow down the field of 400 to 500 worthy photographs, he said, because each spoke to an important element of the community's growth, development and history.

Pittsburg was founded in 1876, but the earliest images of it date to 10 years later. The book includes a particularly notable series taken by Hans Robyn in 1895 that has not been collected or published since that time.

Mauk, a self-described "eBay queen," said she spent several months finding and purchasing photos one at a time on the online auction site.

Some of the earliest images she found feature the Hotel Stilwell and the local newspaper building.

The authors also borrowed several images from unique local collections, including those of the Crawford County Historical Museum, J.T. and Linda Knoll, Bill Powell, and Bob Mishmash.

One of the chapters in particular will resonate with longtime residents. Titled "A Busy Downtown," it features images of downtown stores such as Penney's, Woolworth's, Ward's and Ramsey's.

Roberts and Mauk, a digital archivist at Axe Library, had six months to put the project together along with a companion piece that is a postcard pictorial of Pittsburg.

There are similarities among the communities already featured in the series, but each has a distinct aspect as well.

Roberts said Pittsburg's distinction is its resiliency throughout the years -- something captured in photographs detailing mining camps, railroad depots and the people who settled the area.

"I was thinking about the nature, the character, of the city of Pittsburg, and I find it pretty fascinating that everyone is concerned about the economic situation right now, and this is nothing new in the history of the community," Roberts said. "Pittsburg has gone through the same kind of transition many times and has survived."

The book's images of zinc smelters, with a labor force of several thousand men and their families living in Pittsburg, illustrate that resiliency. Almost overnight, that industry would shut down and move farther west, as did clay products such as tile and brick, and deep shaft and strip mining.

"And yet, here we are," said Roberts.

Some of the authors' favorite photos include:

n A photo of Little's at Christmas in 1959, featuring a Girl Scout troop in the upstairs window singing Christmas carols to passers-by below.

n A photo of a coal company delivery truck parked on the street, hauling not traditional lumps but coal mined in huge square blocks stacked up in back.

n A photo of the interior of William C. Peck's store, Queenswear Co. at 319 N. Broadway, filled with beautiful pieces of dinnerware and pottery.

The book may be purchased for $21.99 at the University Bookstore and at Hastings, where the authors will have a book signing from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Title: Photos of historic Pittsburg featured in book

Author: Nikki Patrick

Publisher: The Morning Sun

Date: 2/15/2009

Photos of historic Pittsburg, many of them never published before, are featured in a new book and postcard set published in the "Images of America" series by Arcadia Publishing.

Co-authors are Randy Roberts, curator of Special Collections at Axe Library and university archivist at Pittsburg State University, and Janette S. Mauk, who is also employed in Special Collections.

The two will have a book signing from 1 to 3 p.m. Feb. 28 at the Pittsburg Hastings store.

"Arcadia Publishing contacted Laura Carlson, and she referred them to me," Roberts said. "This was in late January or early February in 2008. We signed the contract for the book in late February, and our deadline was Sept. 1."

Roberts said that all the books in the "Images of America" series have a standard format of 128 pages containing 180 to 240 photos, along with 30- to 80-word captions with each.

"We have a little over 200 photos in our book," he said.

He and Mauk didn't have to go very far to find them -- Axe Library Special Collections has a huge number of Pittsburg photos.

"We started a massive search and found way more photos than we could use," Roberts said.

"What was hard was deciding which ones to exclude," Mauk said. "We could have easily doubled the size of the book, but the size of the format was 128 pages."

They also obtained about 15 photos from other sources.

"I obtained about 10 images from the Crawford County Historical Museum, as well as some from J.T. and Linda Knoll, Bill Powell and Bob Mishmash," Roberts said.

The images all had to be digitally scanned, which was Mauk's task. It was sometimes challenging.

"The quality of 1895 technology really lacked what we have today," she said.

Roberts said the earliest images in the book date to 1887.

"We have no photos from 1876 through 1886, the first 10 years of Pittsburg," Roberts said.

"Most communities would have had a photographer, or at least an itinerant who came through and took photos. If anyone out there does have some photos of Pittsburg from those years, I'd like for them to contact me."

There are also a few more recent images in the book.

"History hasn't stopped," Roberts pointed out.

"I really think this book has something for everybody -- history of Pittsburg, genealogy, costumes of the day, etc.," Mauk said.

Sold separately is a set of 15 postcards. Arcadia Publishing chose the images used for the postcards.

"As far as we're aware of, it's been 30 years or longer that any new postcards have been produced of Pittsburg," Mauk said.

"Pittsburg" the book costs $21.99, and the postcard set costs $7.99. They will be available at Hastings and the University Bookstore, as well as through Arcadia Publishing at 888-313-2665 or www.arcadiapublishing.com.

Title: True stories: Falling in love again

Author: J.T. KNOLL

Publisher: The Morning Sun

Date: 7/12/09

I've fallen in love all over again.

Specifically, with reading crime novels set in Italy. Haven't loved reading this much since I was ten or eleven and spent endless hours in my tree house reading adventure comic books, or solving mysteries on our front porch swing with Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys.

It started just before our trip to Venice a couple of years ago when I discovered Commisario Guido Brunetti of the Venice police, the urbane protagonist in a series of crime novels by Donna Leon. Along with intriguing characters and twists of plot, Leon's Brunetti provides an intimate unraveling of the mysteries of the city and its inhabitants.

After reading everything Leon wrote, I found Adrea Camilleri, who provides, although with different voice, the same type of plot and location pleasures, only in Sicily with Salvatore Montalbano, the crusty but wise police inspector in the fictional city of Vigata.

Then came the brooding detective Aurelio Zen, protagonist of Michael Dibdin's crime novels, whom, although he was born in Venice, traveled to Rome, Milan, Naples, Perugia, Tuscany, Sicily, Sardinia -- and points in between -- to solve crimes while making acute social and psychological observations about people and places.

Another thing the novels have in common is their protagonist's love of good food, especially the noon meal -- from the antipasti, to the seafood, to the pasta, to the vino, to the espresso -- most times eaten over a period of one to two hours.

What it boils down to is that I've become an Italian crime novel junkie. When I see that I've only got one unread book on hand, I get jumpy and order several more from Amazon for my 'stash.' I'm hooked.

I especially love the quaint streets, captivating rooms, and fascinating faces in all the novels, illustrated, of course, not in photographs but words. Oh the wonder of words!

Not that it doesn't work the other way around. Another work I've been perusing almost daily the past couple of months is a pictorial history of Pittsburg which was published in the "Images of America" series by Arcadia Publishing.

The book, co-authored by Janette Mauk and Randy Roberts, contains over 200 images of Pittsburg, some of them never before published. Roberts is curator of Special Collections at Axe Library, Pittsburg State University, and Mauk also works in Special Collections.

Beginning with the earliest known photograph of Pittsburg, taken in 1887, the book chronicles the growth and development of our city with vintage photographs of mines, businesses, homes, fraternal groups, churches, schools and more, the most recent photo being of the new Miners' Memorial taken last July.

Although still pictures, to me they convey sound and movement -- the mix of languages in conversations and catcalls in the comings and goings of the miners, the rumbling of horse drawn carts, the whirring of street cars, the tinny engines of Model-As at the turn of the century.

In photos of the mid 1960s, I see myself driving our '55 Chevy in to the Pla-Mor to play pool, eat chili, and observe the characters carrying on. Or drag Broadway, goofing with my friends, on warm summer nights.

Gut connecting images of the late 1950s carry me back to all-is-well, joyful times riding the bus from Frontenac to swim at the big pool in Lincoln Park, attend movies at the Midland, shop at Montgomery Wards, and sip a limeade with grandma at Crowell's.

Not to mention jaywalk across Broadway, after watching an afternoon double feature at the Fox, to use the phone to call for a ride at Fogarty News -- the place I met Superman, Robinson Crusoe, and Gulliver in the D.C. Comics and Treasure Island Classics I carried home to lovingly read high in our catalpa tree on long, lazy summer afternoons.

Product Details

Arcadia Publishing SC
Publication date:
Images of America Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.50(d)

Meet the Author

Most of the images in this book were selected from the collections held by the Leonard Axe Library at Pittsburg State University. Additional images were obtained from the Crawford County Historical Museum and from friends of the university. Randy Roberts is an associate professor and the curator of special collections at Pittsburg State University. Janette Mauk is a senior administrative specialist at Pittsburg State University.

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