“Down the Susquehanna to the Chesapeake is doubly welcome, for its own considerable virtues and for filling in so many of the blanks in our knowledge of a river that plays a far larger role in this part of the country than most of us realize. . . . Brubaker’s meticulous and loving description of the river should do much to heighten our appreciation of this secret treasure in the heart of our part of the world. It has been handsomely published by Penn State Press as a ‘Keystone Book,’ a series ‘intended to serve the citizens of Pennsylvania by educating them and others, in an entertaining way, about aspects of the history, culture, society, and environment of the state as part of the Middle Atlantic region.’ That, for my money, is university-press publishing at its absolute best.”
—Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post Book World
Sparked by the pioneering efforts of the University of North Carolina Press back in the 1930s, regional publishing has become a mainstay of university-press lists over the years—and it is especially important for presses located at public institutions with a strong mandate to serve the citizens of their states. Indeed, regional titles (both scholarly and nonscholarly) play a major role in the publishing program of Penn State Press. The Press’s regional books run the gamut from folklore to poetry, from natural history and politics to sports. In 2000, for example, the Press published both a regional cookbook, Seasons of Central Pennsylvania by Anne Quinn Corr, and Renate Wilson’s Pious Traders in Medicine, an award-winning study of German pharmaceutical networks in the mid-Atlantic colonies. The regional list highlights Pennsylvania German history, too. Books such as the beautifully illustrated To the Latest Posterity: Pennsylvania-German Family Registers in the Fraktur Tradition (2003), by Corinne and Russell Earnest, and Don Yoder’s spectacular The Pennsylvania German Broadside (2005) attest to the Press’s productive relationship with the Pennsylvania German Society.
To many outside the world of scholarly publishing, the Press is perhaps best known for its line of popular regional titles known as Keystone Books. According to the official series description, Keystone Books are “intended to serve the citizens of Pennsylvania by educating them and others, in an entertaining way, about aspects of the history, culture, society, and environment of the state as part of the Middle Atlantic region.” In a very real sense, the series offers the Press an outlet for some out-of-the-ordinary books that it might not otherwise be able to publish.
The first Keystone Book was Donald S. Heintzelman’s Guide to Eastern Hawk Watching (1976). The series made an early name for itself with several books by Jeannette Lasansky that were co-published with the Oral Traditions Project of the Union County Historical Society. They included Willow, Oak, and Rye: Basket Traditions in Pennsylvania (1979) and To Cut, Piece, and Solder: The Work of the Rural Pennsylvania Tinsmith, 1778–1908 (1982). More recently, Simon J. Bronner’s Popularizing Pennsylvania (1996) recounted the work of Pennsylvania’s first state folklorist, Henry W. Shoemaker.
Many Penn State Press guidebooks have followed the original Keystone Guide to Eastern Hawk Watching, including the best-selling title in the series, Marcia Bonta’s Outbound Journeys in Pennsylvania (1987), and Therese Boyd’s kitschy The Best Places You’ve Never Seen: Pennsylvania’s Small Museums (2003). Pennsylvania’s waterways are well represented, beginning with Tim Palmer’s Rivers of Pennsylvania (1980) and followed by noteworthy books about the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers (by Mike Sajna and Arthur Parker in 1992 and 1999, respectively). Jack Brubaker added to the list with his Down the Susquehanna to the Chesapeake from 2002. And in 2005 the Press issued a new edition of Richard Albert’s Damming the Delaware, which recounts the fraught history of the Tocks Island Dam Project.
The rough-and-tumble of Pennsylvania politics has always fascinated readers. Keystone titles have tackled the subject through biography, memoir, and survey, as George Wolf’s William Warren Scranton: Pennsylvania Statesman (1981), Vincent Carocci’s A Capitol Journey: Reflections on the Press, Politics, and the Making of Public Policy in Pennsylvania (2005), Paul Beers’s classic Pennsylvania Politics Today and Yesterday (1980), and Jack Treadway’s Elections in Pennsylvania (2005) demonstrate.
For those whose interests lie with sports, several Keystone Books have featured Little League, minor league, and professional baseball: 2001 saw the publication of Lance and Robin Van Auken’s Play Ball! The Story of Little League Baseball as well as James Quigel Jr. and Louis Hunsinger Jr.’s Gateway to the Majors: Williamsport and Minor League Baseball. William Kashatus’s September Swoon: Richie Allen, the ’64 Phillies, and Racial Integration (2004) and his Money Pitcher: Chief Bender and the Tragedy of Indian Assimilation (2006) appeared just a few years later. But baseball isn’t the only sports theme. John Fair’s 1999 book about Bob Hoffman and York Barbell, Muscletown USA, garnered national attention and is one of the better-selling titles in the Keystone series. The Press is also noted for its pioneering books on sports in which the University has excelled in national competition, written or edited by longtime Penn State coaches: Gymnastics Safety Manual (1977; 2nd ed. 1979), edited by Eugene Wettstone, and Foil Fencing (1984), co-authored by Maxwell Garret, who was joined by current coach Emmanuil Kaidanov and another co-author in writing Foil, Saber, and Épée Fencing (1994), which has been through multiple printings with nearly 10,000 copies sold.
Devoted Penn Staters have enjoyed Keystone Books about the University itself, including The Nittany Lion: An Illustrated Tale (1997), by Jackie Esposito and Steven Herb, and The Penn State Blue Band: A Century of Pride and Precision (1999), by Thomas Range II and Sean Patrick Smith (1999). The year 2006 will mark the publication of This Is Penn State: An Insider’s Guide to the University Park Campus, written and designed by Press staff and featuring a Foreword by “honorary alumnus” Old Coaly.
In short, some of the most colorful and entertaining Penn State Press publications have found a perfect home in the Keystone series. Recent Keystone titles include a full-color guide to Pennsylvania mushrooms and an account of the battle over managing whitetail deer in the state.
“I have the highest regard for the work of Penn State Press in promoting state and local history and in setting high standards with publications that are both scholarly and accessible to a general audience.”
—Brent D. Glass, Director, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
Choice Outstanding Academic Books
Craig D. Atwood, Community of the Cross: Moravian Piety in Colonial Bethlehem (2004)
Wayne C. Bodle, The Valley Forge Winter: Civilians and Soldiers in War (2002)
Richard N. Juliana, Building Little Italy: Philadelphia’s Italians Before Mass Migration (1998)
Gerald G. Eggert, Harrisburg Industrializes: The Coming of Factories to an American Community (1993)
Richard C. Albert, Damming the Delaware: The Rise and Fall of Tocks Island Dam (1988)
Craig D. Atwood, Community of the Cross: Moravian Piety in Colonial Bethlehem (2005 Dale W. Brown Book Award in Anabaptist and Pietist Studies, Young Center at Elizabethtown College)
Jeff Bach, Voices of the Turtledoves: The Sacred World of Ephrata (2005 Outstanding Publication Award, Communal Studies Association; 2004 Dale W. Brown Book Award in Anabaptist and Pietist Studies and 2003 First Annual Book Award in Anabaptist and Pietist Studies, Young Center at Elizabethtown College)
William C. Kashatus, September Swoon: Richie Allen, the ’64 Phillies, and Racial Integration (2005 Dave Moore Award, Elysian Fields Quarterly)
Wayne C. Bodle, The Valley Forge Winter: Civilians and Soldiers in War (2003 Distinguished Writing Award Finalist, Army Historical Foundation)
William A. Blair and William Pencak, eds., Making and Remaking Pennsylvania’s Civil War (2002 Philip S. Klein Book Award, Pennsylvania Historical Association)
James P. Quigel Jr. and Louis E. Hunsinger Jr., Gateway to the Majors: Williamsport and Minor League Baseball (2001 Casey Award Finalist, Spitball: The Literary Baseball Magazine)
Kenneth J. Heineman, A Catholic New Deal: Religion and Reform in Depression Pittsburgh (2000 Philip S. Klein Book Award, Pennsylvania Historical Association)
Jody Blake and Jeannette Lasansky, Rural Delivery: Real Photo Postcards from Central Pennsylvania (1997 Award of Merit, American Association for State and Local History)
Mildred Allen Beik, The Miners of Windber: The Struggles of New Immigrants for Unionization, 1890s to 1930s (1996 Book of the Year, International Labor History Association)
Marcia Bonta, Outbound Journeys in Pennsylvania (1987): 10,000+
Jackie R. Esposito and Steven L. Herb, The Nittany Lion (1997): 9,500+
Maxwell R. Garret, Emmanuil G. Kaidanov, and Gil A. Pezza, Foil, Saber, and Épée Fencing (1994): 9,500+
Randall M. Miller and William Pencak, eds., Pennsylvania (2002): 7,000+
Jim Schafer and Mike Sajna, The Allegheny River (1992): 7,000+
Philip S. Klein and Ari Hoogenboom, A History of Pennsylvania, 2nd ed. (1980): 7,000+
Jack Brubaker, Down the Susquehanna to the Chesapeake (2002): 5,000+
Lance and Robin Van Auken, Play Ball! (2001): 4,500+
Richard J. Medve and Mary Lee Medve, Edible Wild Plants of Pennsylvania and Neighboring States (1990): 4,500+
John D. Fair, Muscletown USA (1999): 4,000+
John W. Orr, Set Up Running (2001): 4,000+
Anne Quinn Corr, Seasons of Central Pennsylvania (2000): 3,500+
William C. Kashatus, September Swoon (2004): 3,000+
Marcia Bonta, More Outbound Journeys in Pennsylvania (1995): 3,000+
Lorett Treese, Valley Forge (1995): 3,000+
Thomas E. Range II and Sean Patrick Smith, The Penn State Blue Band (1999): 2,500+
E. Willard Miller, ed., A Geography of Pennsylvania (1995): 2,500+
Therese Boyd, The Best Places You’ve Never Seen (2003): 2,500+
Arthur Parker, The Monongahela (1999): 2,500+
Lorett Treese, The Storm Gathering (1992): 2,000+
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