Summary Information
Title: Nationality Rooms Program Files
Collection Number: UA.40.1
Creator: University of Pittsburgh. Nationality Rooms Program.

Collection Dates: 1926-1966
Extent: 3.75 linear feet (3 boxes)
Location: Thomas - 2nd - UA Stacks Range 6/15/5; Thomas - 2nd - UA Stacks Range 6/15/6

Language: English

These are the records of the general planning of the Nationality Classrooms in the University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning by Ruth Crawford Mitchell.

ULS Archives Service Center
University of Pittsburgh Library System
7500 Thomas Boulevard
Pittsburgh, PA, 15260
Date Published:

May 2011

Finding aid prepared by Archives Service Center Staff; revised by Marianne Kasica.

The Nationality Rooms are a series of rooms within the Cathedral of Learning that represent the various ethnic groups that immigrated to Pittsburgh and built the city and its industries. Ruth Crawford Mitchell was appointed to direct the Nationality Rooms Program by Chancellor Bowman before the first spade of dirt was turned for the construction of the Cathedral. Her background in sociology and her specialization in immigrants and immigration provided her with no small amount of insight as to how to convince the various groups to sponsor and build these rooms. Mrs. Mitchell served in this capacity from 1926 until her retirement in 1956.

Collection Scope and Content Notes

This collection consists of the notes, reports and information files of Ruth Crawford Mitchell as part of her oversight of the planning and building of the Nationality Rooms Program and of the Educational Exchange Program.

Subject Terms

  • Classrooms -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Ethnic groups -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Ethnicity -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Universities and colleges -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh

Corporate Names
  • Cathedral of Learning (Pittsburgh, Pa.).
  • Nationality Rooms (Cathedral of Learning, Pittsburgh, Pa.).
  • University of Pittsburgh. Nationality Rooms Program.
  • University of Pittsburgh. -- Buildings

Personal Names
  • Mitchell, Ruth Crawford, 1890-

  • University of Pittsburgh

Access and Use
Access Restrictions:

No restrictions.

Acquisition Information:

The bulk of this collection was deposited in the University Archives by the Nationality Rooms Program; Folders 70-83 were given to the University Library by Ruth C. Mitchell.

Preferred Citation:

Nationality Rooms Program Files, 1926-1959, UA 40.1, University Archives, Archives Service Center, University of Pittsburgh

Processing Information:

This collection was processed by Archives Service Center Staff and revised by Marianne Kasica in 2011.


All rights reserved. University of Pittsburgh.

Collection Inventory

Series I. Nationality Committees

Scope and Content Notes:

These files are the Nationality Room Committees' running memos compiled by Ruth Mitchell and her staff. They are in chronological order of activities of the committees and document the fundraising, planning and designing of each room. It includes records of conversations with members of each committee. In addition to the Nationality Rooms, there were plans to create rooms honoring other people or events. These include a room showcasing Transportation in Pennsylvania and one to honor the composer Ethelbert Nevin.

Box 1
Folder 1-2 Running Memos, 1927-1931

Chinese Committee, 1929-31; Czechoslovak, 1928-31; English, 1929031; French, 1930-31; German, 1928-31; Greek, 1928-31; Hungarian, 1927-31; Irish, 1931; Italian, 1928-31; Jewish, 1930 (Room under question).

Polish Committee, 1927-31; Romanian, 1927-31; Russian, 1927-31; Scandinavian, 1928-31 (original plans called for Scandinavian Room although there was Norwegian sub-committee & Swedish sub-committee within Scandinavian group); Scottish, 1929-31; Ukrainian, 1929-31 (not enough funds to establish); Welsh, 1930-31; Yugoslavian, 1927-31

Folder 3 Running Memos, 1932-1933

Chinese; Czechoslovakian; English; French; German; Hungarian; Irish; Italian; Polish; Romanian; Russian; Scandinavian; Scottish; Ukrainian; Welsh; Yugoslav

Folder 4-5 Running Memos, 1934

Chinese; Czechoslovakian; English; French; German; Greek; Hungarian; Irish; Italian

Japan; Lithuanian; Polish; Romanian; Russian; Scandinavian; Swedish; Scottish; Spanish; Welsh; Yugoslavian; Pennsylvania Transportation Room (see also FF 70-81)

Folder 6-7 Running Memos, 1935

Chinese; Czechoslovakian; English; French; German; Greek; Hungarian; Irish; Italian; Lithuanian; Norwegian; Pennsylvania Transportation.

Polish; Romanian; Russian; Scottish; Swedish; Syrian; Welsh; Yugoslav.

Folder 8-9 Running Memos, 1936

Chinese; Czechoslovak; English; French; German; Greek; Hungarian; Irish; Italian; Jewish (same controversy as 1930 over decision to have room); Lithuanian.

Norwegian; Pittsburgh (no Memo); Polish; Romanian; Russian; Scottish; Swedish; Syrian; Yugoslav; Miscellaneous others, (Finnish, Ukrainian, Ethelbert Nevin, request for Negro Room).

Folder 10-11 Running Memos, 1937

Chinese; Czechoslovak; English; French; German; Greek; Hungarian; Italian; Jewish; Lithuanian.

Norwegian; Polish; Romanian; Russian; Scottish; Swedish; Syrian; Yugoslav; Miscellaneous (Negro, Ukrainian, Irish, Nevin, Welsh).

Folder 12-13 Running Memos, 1938

Chinese; Czechoslovak; English; French; German; Greek; Hungarian; Irish; Italian; Lithuanian; Norwegian.

Polish; Romanian; Russian; Scottish; Swedish; Syrian (changed to Syrian-Lebanon); Yugoslav; Miscellaneous (Finnish, Turkish, Welsh, Ethelbert Nevin).

Folder 14-15 Running Memos, 1939

Chinese: Czechoslovak; English; French; German; Greek; Hungarian; Italian.

Lithuanian; Norwegian; Polish; Romanian; Russian; Scottish; Swedish; Syria-Lebanese; Yugoslav; Miscellaneous (Dutch, Turkish, Welsh, Nevin, Irish).

Folder 16-17 Running Memos, 1940

Chinese; Czechoslovak; English; French; German; Greek; Hungarian; Italian.

Lithuanian; Norwegian; Polish; Romanian; Russian; Scottish; Swedish; Syrian-Lebanese; Yugoslav; Miscellaneous (Irish, Nevin).

Folder 18-19 Running Memos, 1941

Chinese; Czechoslovak; English; French; German; Greek; Hungarian; Irish; Italian; Lithuanian.

Norwegian; Polish; Romanian; Russian; Scottish; Swedish; Syrian-Lebanese; Welsh; Yugoslav; Nevin; Miscellaneous (Finnish, Spanish).

Folder 20-21 Running Memos, 1942

Chinese; Czechoslovak; English; French; German; Greek; Hungarian; Irish; Italian.

Lithuanian; Norwegian; Polish; Romanian; Russian; Scottish; Swedish; Syrian-Lebanese; Yugoslav; Nevin; Miscellaneous (Jewish, Latin American).

Folder 22 Running Memos, 1943

Chinese; Czechoslovak; English; French; German; Greek; Hungarian; Irish; Italian; Lithuanian; Norwegian; Polish; Romanian; Russian; Scottish; Syrian-Lebanese; Welsh; Yugoslav; Miscellaneous (Latin American).

Folder 23-24 Running Memos, 1944-1946

Chinese 1944-45; Czechoslovak, 1944-45; English, 1944, 46; French, 1944, 46; German, 1944, 46; Greek, 1944, 46; Hungarian, 1944, 46; Irish, 1944-46; Italian, 1944, 46; Lithuanian, 1944,1946

Norwegian, 1944; Polish, 1944, 46; Romanian, 1944, 46; Russian, 1944, 46; Scottish, 1944, 46; Swedish, 1944, 46; Syrian-Lebanese, 1944, 46; Yugoslav, 1944, 46; Miscellaneous (Physical condition of rooms 1946; Dutch, 1944).

Folder 25-26 Running Memos, 1947-1948

Chinese; Czechoslovak; English; French; German; Greek; Hungarian; Irish.

Italian; Lithuanian; Norwegian; Polish; Romanian; Russian Scottish; Swedish; Syrian-Lebanese; Yugoslav.

Some memos in this group incomplete because recorder’s handwriting could not be deciphered, penciled notes attached.

Folder 27 Running Memos, 1958-1959

Chinese; Czechoslovak; English; French; Greek; Irish; Italian; Romanian; Russian; Scottish; Swedish; Yugoslav.

Box 2
Folder 28 Nationality Groups 1934 Series Campaign

"Complete the Cathedral Campaign" progress reports from 16 Nationality groups. Notes in chronological order by Committee on fund raising ways and means. Bound Volume.

Folder 29 Nationality Room Committee Reports Vol. I, Memoranda on continuation Program, 1935-1946

Selected memoranda resumes of conversations, minutes of joint meetings of all committees and actual program proposals prepared for the Chancellor taken from files of Ruth Crawford Mitchell, University Advisor to Nationality Room Committees. Includes photographs.

Folder 30 Nationality Room Committee Reports Volume II, Nationality Rooms Council, 1947-1951

Agenda, minutes, programs for 5 year experimental Period of Cooperation in the Educational Exchange Program at the University . Material taken from files of R.C. Mitchell, Advisor to nationality Room Committees. Includes photos. Nationality Rooms Committee reorganized in 1947 and Nationality Rooms Council established.

Folder 31 Nationality Room Committee Reports Vol. III, Nationality Room Council, 1951-1957

Minutes and photographs of the Committees, publicity, publications, programs, speeches. Compiled by R.C. Mitchell.

Series II. Ruth Crawford Mitchell and Charles Elliott trips to Europe 1936-1937, 1956

Scope and Content Notes:

This series contains correspondence and reports from trips abroad by the Nationality Room Program staff.

Folder 32-34 Ruth Crawford Mitchell’s trip abroad September 1936-February 1937

“The Old Country Chapter of the Nationality Classrooms.” Letters from R.C. Mitchell written during the trip abroad to confer with architects and artists. Also includes progress reports to Mrs. Mitchell on the work of the committees, expense accounts of Mrs. Mitchell, photographs, telegrams.

European Trip for Nationality Rooms Diary which is source for information in letters found in FF 31. Includes typed list of contacts in Europe.

Folder 35-36 Charles Elliot's trip abroad

Charles Elliott, Associate Director of Nationality Rooms, spent a semester in Europe, September-December 1956, The files contain letters and running memos to R.C. Mitchell and committees on trip on Nationality rooms and Exchange program.

Weekly office memos sent to Charles Elliott while on trip abroad 1956 from R.C. Mitchell and office staff. These two files are missing as of April 2011.

Series III. Educational Exchange Committee

Scope and Content Notes:

This series comprises letters regarding trips to Germany, Austria, Yugoslavia, and Italy by R.C. Mitchell in 1955. Some letters concern educational exchanges and post war conditions in the respective country; others are from Charles Elliott regarding his 1956 trip, including extracts from letters in FF 35. Other folders contain reports from R.C. Mitchell on her 1959 trip to Ireland, Poland, USSR, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden regarding the Educational Exchange programs in those countries (some cultural and sociological observations) as well as educational exchange conference reports. This is a bound volume.

Folder 37 Educational Exchange Committee Contacts

Series IV. Reports to the Chancellor

Scope and Content Notes:

This series contains reports made to the Chancellor by R.C. Mitchell and others relating to the Nationality Rooms and the international education and exchange activities that emanated from the program.

Folder 38 Reports from the Chancellor's Advisor to Nationality Room Committees. 1936-1943

Includes Deed of gift procedure, an informal contract to be signed by representatives of committees and Board of Trustees prepared by G. Stanley Rupp, 1936; also financial accounts, correspondence; program; photograph and speeches at Nationality Room supper, December 18, 1942.

Folder 39 Annual Reports Vol. I, 1939-1949

Labeled reports of Nationality Room Program Women’s International Club. The whole volume concerns the Luncheon Club which was formed 1939 by representatives of Nationality Room Committees for Social luncheons with speakers. Contains minutes of meetings, programs, letters, photographs. Bound volume.

Folder 40 Annual Reports Vol. II, 1951-1953

Reports to Chancellor regarding the Committee on Educational Exchange, 1951-53; includes minutes of meetings memos to committee members, rosters of foreign students, programs, photos; Appendix is report on Nationality rooms. Bound Volume.

Folder 41 Annual Reports Vol. III, 1953-1956

Reports to Chancellor on Nationality Room Program includes clippings, publicity, photographs, organization charts; reports from scholarship awardees abroad. Bound Volume.

Folder 42 Annual reports Vol. IV, 1956-1957

Report to Chancellor includes programs clippings, photographs, reports from scholarship awardees abroad; Educational Exchange study-travel awards. Reports from Charles Elliott; running memos on Nationality Program. Clippings for Annual Reports 1958/59-1959/60 (no reports) Bound Volume.

Box 3
Folder 43 Annual Report Cultural & Educational Exchange Program, 1957-1958

Includes Financial Programs, Nationality Rooms Programs; Student Hostess Program, educational exchange program, Reports, statistics, programs, photographs, clippings. Bound Volume.

Folder 44 International Educational interests at University of Pittsburgh

Annual Reports 1946-51, original memoranda and annual reports by R.C. Mitchell prepared for the Chancellor covering five experimental years in the development of a University-wide program of International Educational Interests. Per RCM this first report is important because the compiler had sufficient time to make a fairly thorough study of status quo post-war. Numerous aspects of report were not continued due to lack of time and secretarial assistance. Bound Volume.

Series V. Nationality Rooms Maintenance

Folder 45 Nationality Rooms Maintenance Record, 1950-1951
Folder 45a-45b Clippings for Annual Reports 1958/59-1959/60

Series VI. Publications

Scope and Content Notes:

This series contains publications about the Nationality Rooms as well as books and other materials donated to the library as a result of the rooms' programs.

Folder 46 Nationality Rooms Book

Typescript of book and comments on introduction to book; description of each classroom; letters from Edward Tabor about the Czechoslovakian classroom. This book, Nationality Rooms of the University of Pittsburgh, with drawings by Andrey Avinoff was published in 1947 by University of Pittsburgh Press. fLD6015/C36IA21.

Folder 47 Books Donated to the University Library

Books presented by Nationality Rooms Committees to University Libraries. Includes Book of Kells, Czechoslovakian Books 1957, Yugoslav Books 1956; Bound photocopy of list of books from National Slovak Society. (removed copy in RG 32/18, 1/7/1985)

Series VII. General Correspondence

Scope and Content Notes:

This series contains correspondence between R.C. Mitchell and various University Chancellors between 1934-53. Other material details Mitchell’s duties (1926) and title (1934) as well as the proposed Egyptian Room. Some correspondence pertains to various committees, educational exchange letters written in England (1949), the future of the Nationality Room Program (1956), and a letter from Dr. Bowman about a leave of absence for Mitchell (1944). Finally, some personal greetings and Christmas cards are present.

Folder 48 Nationality Rooms, 1934-1953

Series VIII. Publicity

Scope and Content Notes:

This series includes correspondence with the H.J. Heinz Company (1958) regarding publicity in Pittsburgh Symphony programs. Other publicity includes an article by R.C.M. in Higher Education (October 15, 1958); an article in Norwegian Magazine with translation (1947); articles on botanical designs in the rooms (R.W.C. Little, 1939); an article in Near East Service (February 1942) on the Syria Room; an article in Greater Pittsburgh (1936); and a typescript for an article in Mademoiselle (1955).

Folder 49 General Publicity on Nationality Rooms, 1936-1958

Series IX. Proposed Rooms Not Built

Scope and Content Notes:

This series has information and plans for the Pennsylvania Floor rooms and the McGuffy Room, neither of which were executed.

Folder 50 Pennsylvania Floor

Proposed Pennsylvania floor, 1929-36? ( see also FF 70-81); Typescript outline of historical landmarks and events for Washington, Fayette, Cambria counties. Preliminary design scheme for proposed Westmoreland County Room; 2 memos re proposed transportation room; Negatives of snapshots of Pennsylvania Dutch type furniture considered for Pennsylvania floor (removed and placed in photograph file: Buildings Cathedral of Learning Nationality Rooms) Article on Nevin Room.

Folder 51 McGuffy Room

Preliminary design scheme for proposed William McGuffey classroom, much biographical information on him (McGuffey born in Washington County), letters relating to designing room, includes clippings publicizing proposed room (clippings of new education building in Harrisburg, 1934, and clippings on historic landmarks and famous people in Western Pennsylvania as background for proposed Pennsylvania floor deleted; given to Western Pennsylvania Historical Society).

Series X. Ruth C. Mitchell

Scope and Content Notes:

This series contains such items as a typescript of a speech in Marietta, Ohio (1934) on Ethnic Students; a speech on Nationality group life (1936); another regarding modern language teaching (1938). Mitchell wrote about or gave speeches about the Czechoslovak National Council (1939), The Third Czech Republic (1939), the Independent Slovak State (1939); the meaning of the present war to Ethnic Young People (1941); the significance of Nationality Rooms (1940); and American Poles ready for War Congress (1939). The series contains a draft of an article regarding educational directions (1942) of the Nationality Rooms, and their contribution to higher education (1943). A broadcast on the Nationality Rooms is included (Undated but post-1947). Other material documents the progress of national interests; the Committee on Educational Exchange (1951?); the History of Slavonic peoples in Western Pennsylvania; undated assorted notes; an article in The New American by Edward Tabor (1933) about governing principles in developing the rooms. See also R.C. Mitchell faculty papers, Record Group 90/F12.

Folder 52 Speeches and Writings on Ethnic Heritage, 1934-1951
Folder 52a Principals and Procedures Relating to the Rooms, 1966

Principles and Procedures prepared by Maxine Bruhns in consultation with Ruth C. Mitchell. Nationality Rooms Summary Statement.

Series XI. The Classrooms

Scope and Content Notes:

File folders 53-69 pertain to the earliest classrooms that were built. They have been likely relocated to each rooms' files. Currently not in either RG 13/3 nor RG 40.

Folder 53 Chinese Classroom
Folder 54 Czechoslovakian Classroom
Folder 55 French Classroom
Folder 56 German Classroom
Folder 57 Greek Classroom
Folder 58 Hungarian Classroom
Folder 59 Italian Classroom
Folder 60 Lithuanian Classroom
Folder 61 Pennsylvania German Classroom
Folder 62 Polish Classroom
Folder 63 Romanian Classroom
Folder 64 Russian Classroom
Folder 65 Scandinavian Classroom
Folder 66 Scottish Classroom
File-cabinet 67 Yugoslavian Classroom
Folder 68 History Department Memorial Recitation Room
Folder 69 Proposed Rooms

Unidentified artist’s renderings

Series XII. Pennsylvania Floor

Scope and Content Notes:

These files describe proposed rooms that would represent the achievements made in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. One plan called for the 2nd floor of the Cathedral to feature the Commonwealth's achievements in various endeavors and included an art room, music room, science room, transportation room and several others. An alternate plan was to dedicate a room to each of the counties in western Pennsylvania. Neither plan was ever executed.

Folder 70-71 General Themes

Suggestions for the 17th Century American Classroom: notes, bibliographic notes; Mrs. Mitchell’s notebook of visits to various sites in the state, furnishings, rough sketches; suggestions for rooms.

Maps of Pennsylvania counties; notes on the purpose of rooms; lists of counties and personalities; correspondence of Mrs. Mitchell and George Donehoo; extracts from the “Early History of Western Pennsylvania” Daniel W. Kauffman 1846; list of signs for second floor rooms; suggested themes for pioneer Pennsylvania floor, including numbers of students from Western Pennsylvania counties; Pennsylvania population trends

Folder 72 Economy Room

Clippings from Bulletin Index; Gazette Times; Post Gazette; etc. on Old Economy (Village); Duss’ Band Primer (2), and correspondence with John Duss, last of the Economites

Folder 73 French Room

Notes on the early French fort and settlements

Folder 74 Pennsylvania German (Pennsylvania Dutch)

Pennsylvania-German pioneers; history of the spinning wheel given by Mrs. Tracy Guthrie; copy of pioneer letter; clippings and notes; “Notes on the German element in the population of early Pennsylvania”; Pennsylvania Museum Bulletin, December 1926 – description of a Pennsylvania-German house in Lebanon County; correspondence; American-German Review April 1941 on Landis Valley Museum

Folder 75 Hungarian Historical Committee of Western Pennsylvania

Extract of editorial by George Szecskay in American Hungarian Voice; Plans of Hungarian Historical Committee; committee members.

Folder 76 Indian (Native American) Room

Notes; “American Indian Portraits” by Winold Reiss

Folder 77 Moravian Room and Philadelphia Room

Correspondence concerning Moravian music collection; booklet on “The Moravians and their faith”, “Picture book of Philadelphia Chippendale furniture"

Folder 78 Scotch Irish

Excerpts from Thomas Mellon and his times; excerpts from published accounts of Scotch-Irish and German settlers; notes of conversations; “Sources of information about Scotch-Irish in Blair County.”

Folder 79-83 General Furnishings and Plans

Antiques; maps; correspondence with George Donahoo.

Correspondence; furniture sketches. Philadelphia Museum Bulletin, February 1928, on Cedar Grove; William Savery, chairmaker and joiner.

List of women in Western Pennsylvania history; statistics on foreign born in Pennsylvania; industries in Pennsylvania; representative flowers of Western Pennsylvania; Western Pennsylvania animals; birds of Pennsylvania; Mother tongues of foreign white stock in Pittsburgh; representative trees of Western Pennsylvania; activities in the evolution of Western Pennsylvania; racial elements in the population; subjects for mural.

Photographs of chairs, tables, desk, etc. from museums and owned by individuals in various parts of Pennsylvania.

Presentation of Theatrical Stage from the Chinese Pavilion of the New York World’s Fair to the University of Pittsburgh (3/2/1966).