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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

Steubenville's Centennial Celebrations

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Centennial Celebrations of Steubenville have produced a rich history to be left for future generations.

 

Like many areas, the 100th anniversary of a "founding" is a time for celebration and documentation of history.

 

In 1897, the Centennial was documented with the publication of "Centennial souvenir of Steubenville and Jefferson County, Ohio, 1797-1897, compiled by J.H. Andrews."

 

When combined with Caldwell's history, and Doyle's history of the city and county, the trio of books provides a comprehensive history of the area during the 19th century.

 

The newly formed Wells Historical Society orchestrated the events that spanned from May through August of 1897.

 

Speeches, parades, fireworks, and the construction of commemorative arches downtown, all marked the celebration.

 

August 25 was deemed "Pioneer Day" and was highlighted by a "Pioneer and Industrial Parade," which is well documented by photos of the day.

 

Many of those photos have been reproduced in our "Steubenville, Images of America" book.

 

Photos from the late 19th Century always seem to demonstrate excellence in photography.

 

At least, I thought that to be true until a historian explained to me "they just threw away the bad ones."

 

50 years later, the founding of Steubenville was celebrated with the Sesquicentennial Veterans Homecoming, held July 2-6, 1947.

 

This event combined history with the end of World War II and the return of the veterans.

 

A Souvenir book was again published, under the organization of Malcolm J. Brady of the Herald-Star.

 

This book provides valuable information about area history, written in a more conversational tone that its 1897 predecessor, containing more human-interest stories.

 

This book also preserves many photos for the first 150 years of the city that would have likely been lost otherwise.

 

The 1947 celebration also yielded a weeklong drama held at Harding Stadium, and a huge parade that was documented on color motion picture film, available today on DVD.

 

The book also lists sources for the information, some from private collections that have disappeared in the years since.

 

Steubenville's Bicentennial in 1997 was also celebrated with the publication of a book that drew upon the resources of the two previous books.

 

Written and developed by the Bicentennial Book Committee, including yours truly, each chapter was written by a different person on the committee.

 

As librarians, Sandy Day and I insisted on the addition of an index during the book's development, something that we have used countless times since.

 

The Bicentennial was celebrated by various events throughout 1997, highlighted with a parade on August 23, nearly 100 years to the day of the 1897 parade.

 

Unfortunately, photo documentation of the 1997 events was not as comprehensive as earlier celebrations, and anyone with photos should share them for the sake of history.

 

I will pass the responsibility of documenting the 250th celebration in 2047 to someone else, unless I am fortunate enough to reach the age of 93.