Guide to the Bruce Drisbach-American Steel & Wire Company Photographs, 1915-1917 AIS.2001.02

ULS Archives & Special Collections

Summary Information

Repository
ULS Archives & Special Collections
Title
Bruce Drisbach-American Steel & Wire Company Photographs
Creator
Drisbach, Bruce
Collection Number
AIS.2001.02
Date
1915-1917
Extent
126.0 items (7 boxes)
Abstract
The Bruce Drisbach-American Steel & Wire Company Photographs consists of 126 glass plate negatives documenting the construction of housing in Donora, Pennsylvania, and the construction of the American Steel & Wire Company buildings. Landscape and family photographs are also included. Digital reproductions of the entire collection are available online.

Preferred Citation

Bruce Drisbach-American American Steel & Wire Company Photographs, 1915-1917, AIS.2001.02, Archives & Special Collections, University of Pittsburgh Library System

Return to Table of Contents »


History

The American Steel & Wire Company, founded in 1899, occupied 300 acres in Donora, Pennsylvania, and later became part of the United States Steel Corporation in 1900. Ground was broken for the Zinc Works on June 16, 1915 which would occupy 45 acres of land along the Monongahela River on the opposite side of Donora. The first zinc was produced at the plant on October 29, 1915. The zinc was used to galvanize wire and other steel items as well as being a component of explosives and brass.

Donora and the Zinc Works are probably most famous for the disaster on October 28, 1948 when sulfur dioxide emissions covered the area during a weather inversion leaving 6,000 residents ill and twenty residents dead. This was the first documented case of air pollution deaths. Within twenty years, the American Steel & Wire Company closed.

Bruce Drisbach, or Dreisbach, the oldest of 12 children, was born October 8, 1881 in Nescopeck, Pennsylvania. He was employed by the American Steel & Wire Co. as a photographer and also worked in the offices. He died September 2, 1959.

Return to Table of Contents »


Scope and Content Notes

The Bruce Drisbach-American Steel & Wire Company Photographs documents the construction of the American Steel & Wire Company and the housing for its workers. The images chronicle the varying aspects of a steel mill community, from the equipment used to its employees and their family’s homes and living conditions. Subjects are creatively captured through the use of accented light and varying angles, portraying an artistic image of unpleasant objects and events. This collection represents the conception and realizations of the American steel town, a symbol of the nation’s Industrial Age.

Drisbach family photographs are also included in the collection.

Return to Table of Contents »


Arrangement

The photographs have been organized into four series. All images date between 1915 and 1917.

Series I. Mill Construction

Series II. Mill Views and Equipment

Series III. Housing Construction

Series IV. Miscellaneous

Return to Table of Contents »


Administrative Information

Publication Information

ULS Archives & Special Collections, September 2009

University of Pittsburgh Library System
Archives & Special Collections
Website: library.pitt.edu/archives-special-collections
412-648-3232 (ASC) | 412-648-8190 (Hillman)
Contact Us: www.library.pitt.edu/ask-archivist

Access Restrictions

No restrictions.

Copyright

The University of Pittsburgh holds all the rights to the material in this collection. For information about permission to reproduce or publish, please contact the Archives Service Center.

Acquisition Information

Purchased from Marie Martin Fine Arts Service from the niece of Mr. Drisbach in 2001.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Miriam Meislik in May 2001. The finding aid was created by Renee Ziemann in April 2009 using information provided by the processing guide as well as from the corresponding digital collection.

Existence and Location of Copies

Digital versions of the photographic images are available online: http://historicpittsburgh.org/collection/bruce-drisbach-american-steel--wire-company-photographs.

Return to Table of Contents »


Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • American Steel & Wire Co..
  • Donora Zinc Works.

Family Name(s)

  • Drisbach family

Genre(s)

  • Dry collodion negatives

Geographic Name(s)

  • Donora (Pa.)

Personal Name(s)

  • Drisbach, Bruce

Subject(s)

  • Business and Industry
  • Industrial housing -- Design and construction -- Pennsylvania -- Donora
  • Labor
  • Mills and mill-work -- Design and construction -- Pennsylvania -- Donora
  • Mills and mill-work -- Machinery -- Pennsylvania -- Donora
  • Personal papers
  • Zinc smelting -- Health aspects -- Pennsylvania -- Donora

Return to Table of Contents »


Previous Citation

Bruce Drisbach-American American Steel & Wire Company Photographs, 1915-1917, AIS.2001.02, Archives Service Center, University of Pittsburgh

Return to Table of Contents »


Collection Inventory

Series  I. Mill Construction 

Scope and Content Notes

Construction of the American Steel & Wire Company is depicted from ground breaking to completion. Interior and exterior views of the building under development portray construction tools and methods applied during this period.

  Box
Mill Construction 1

Return to Table of Contents »


Series  II. Mill Views and Equipment 

Scope and Content Notes

This series contains interior and exterior images of the mill, including views of equipment, mill workers and workers using equipment. Four photographs depict a gathering of mill workers.

  Box
General Mill Views- Interior and Equipment 2-3

Return to Table of Contents »


Series  III. Housing Construction 

Scope and Content Notes

The housing photographs detail construction of housing from groundbreaking to near completion. They show the variety in the types of housing constructed and care in craftsmanship. Also portrayed are the conditions of existing housing as well as the downtown Donora area.

  Box
Slum Housing Conditions and General Town Views 4
  Box
New Housing Construction, September 11-25, 1917 5

Return to Table of Contents »