University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown

Pitt-Johnstown Awarded Historical and Museum Commission Digitization Grant

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) recently approved a Pitt-Johnstown grant application to support the digitization and dissemination of a large collection of archival materials from the Johnstown Area Heritage Association (JAHA).

The material consists of photographs, handwritten documents, and other artifacts related to the Johnstown Flood. Once scanned, the material will be accessible through the University of Pittsburgh Library System’s website, Historic Pittsburgh (

Led by primary investigator Jeremy C. Justus, PhD, the project represents a collaborative effort. “This project represents a significant and meaningful relationship between Pitt-Johnstown and JAHA,” said Justus. “We hope it’ll serve the Pitt system-wide academic community, the local Johnstown community, and broader, global communities of people interested in the historical and cultural significance of the Johnstown Flood.”

Other participants include: Pitt-Johnstown’s Multimedia and Digital Culture program (MMDC), JAHA Director Richard Burkert (along with Shelley Johansson and Andrew Lang), and University Library System staff, including Peter Egler and David Kupas at the ULS Owen Library, Eve Wider, Director of the Millstein Library and Coordinator of Regional ULS Libraries, and Ed Galloway, Associate University Librarian for Archives & Special Collections.

“JAHA holds nationally significant collections of photography documenting the 1889 flood, immigration to this area, and the early steel industry,” said Richard Burkert, president of JAHA. “We’re delighted that this grant will enable us to make these collections available to a much wider audience.”

Students in Pitt-Johnstown’s MMDC program as well as those taking courses in public history with Paul Douglas Newman, PhD, will gain a significant amount of hands-on experience digitizing images, creating metadata for digitized materials, and transcribing archival texts to render them searchable in online venues. Moreover, the project will give upper-level MMDC majors an opportunity to work in internships with JAHA and the University Library System.

The approved budget will support the installation of a small digitization lab on the Pitt-Johnstown campus, a paid internship in the MMDC program, and support for both JAHA and Historic Pittsburgh.

The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown was founded in 1927 and is the first and largest regional campus of the University of Pittsburgh. Pitt-Johnstown is recognized by the Princeton Review as a “Best in the Northeast” college, by G.I. Jobs as a “Military Friendly School,” and by Pennsylvania Business Central as a "Top 100 Organization.” The distinctive combination of Pitt-Johnstown’s people, programs, and place results in exceptional performance in preparing students for career and professional success. Pitt-Johnstown is the regional leader, educating for success in the Real World.