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The Jewish community of Greater Harrisburg became established after 1825, mostly by German immigrants who took up peddling and clothing trades. They were attracted inland from East Coast cities to Harrisburg, the growing upriver hub of trade that became Pennsylvania's state capital in 1812. The community grew to 600 residents by the end of the 19th century and drew attention for a level of civic engagement well beyond that of comparably sized settlements. Immigration from eastern Europe in the early 20th century contributed to a tenfold increase of the Jewish population and a changing ethnic and commercial profile. In the years that followed, the community added an impressive range of institutions and continued to have a reputation for activism. Emerging as the hub of Jewish life in central Pennsylvania, the community produced internationally renowned figures in Jewish affairs, business, and arts.
As suggested by the subtitle, "Legends, Beliefs, Songs, Games, Jokes, Festivals, Slang Ghost Stories and Other Traditions from American Colleges and Universities," Bronner examines every aspect of modern college life. That includes study techniques like mnemonics to help remember complex facts, traditions like waiting times for professors arriving late to class, legendary professors, photocopier art, mooning, streaking, celebrations, pranks, drinking games and songs, fight songs, ghost stories, and competitive college humor (including many Texas Aggie jokes). A section on sororities and fraternities covers rush, pledging, hell week, initiation, and numerous traditions. Even dating, engagement, and slang terms get some coverage. This book will be of greatest interest to those who study folklore and traditions, to new students seeking to learn what to expect in college, and perhaps to those who want to adapt old traditions to their school or its organizations.
For much of the 20th century, the name Steelton represented a great industrial complex that stretched nearly four miles along the Susquehanna River near the state's capital of Harrisburg. Immigrants from all over Europe, particularly Slavs and Italians, worked with African Americans from the South at the Bethlehem Steel Company and gave Steelton its reputation for ethnic diversity, second only to its fame for industrial productivity. Catholics, Protestants, and Jews filled the town's various houses of worship, but the taverns on Front Street, across from the mill, were crowded too. The town's powerful athletes were often state champions, beating schools many times larger. The townsmen were all proud as well of their loyal service in U.S. forces in the two world wars. The vintage images in Steelton chronicle the history of this exceptional and diverse community.