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Arts, Sports & Culture

Heinz History Center Provides Glimpse into Civil War

The Senator John Heinz History Center is giving people a glimpse into Pennsylvanians’ lives during the Civil War by looking at our lineage.

Visitors this month will have special opportunities to track their ancestors and view tintype photos taken 150 years ago.  They will also see how the entire Civil War exhibit currently on display was created.

Andy Masich, History Center President and CEO, said the center receives thousands of calls every year from people interested in tracking their ancestors - but none are as interesting as Civil War ancestors.

Craig Scott, a certified genealogist, will help people track down information about their ancestors using the Internet, traditional libraries, and archives November 2nd.

“People are interested to find out if an ancestor fought for the north or the south,” Masich said. “They’re also interested in what was going on on the home front, in the cities and on the farms in Pennsylvania.”

On November 9th, visitors will have the opportunity to see how the Civil War exhibit was created.

Masich said a group of curators, designers and builders will explain the history behind artifacts such as the 1861 Rodman Cannon.

According to Masich, the original cannon was the largest ever made in America at 90 tons and was cast at the Fort Pitt Foundry.

He said reconstructing the cannon in the History Center was challenging, but the exhibit designer found a way using a 3-D printer.

Masich said the lower portion of the cannon is made from 1870 iron beams with big rivets.

“The upper portion of the gun, the preponderance, the fat part of this bottle shaped cannon, is actually made in sections on a 3-D printer and then stuck together and fiber-glassed over and it looks identical to the real McCoy,” Masich said.

According to Masich, the Civil War was the first war that was photo-documented on a large scale.

On November 16th, Jason Snyder, the owner Pittsburgh Tintype Studio, will explain the science and history behind tintype photography - which was used during the war.

“Those early photographers used everything from glass plate photography techniques to tintypes and ambrotypes and even to garotypes,” Masich said. “These are all different techniques using different materials all making a lasting impression.”

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