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About - Steel Valley Voices Steel Valley Voices


Steel Valley Voices collects and shares the stories and memories of the Youngstown area’s diverse communities.  This digital archive makes letters, documents, photographs, and other materials available to anyone with an interest in Mahoning Valley history and culture.

From early in the 19th century through recent years, the Mahoning Valley has drawn new migrants and immigrants seeking economic opportunities and new homes. As those families settled in the area, they created the diverse cultural mix of our present day community. They brought new languages, religious traditions, recipes, viewpoints, and artistic talents to the area. Since the mid-19th century, migrants and immigrants have left their mark here in the Mahoning Valley in many ways, from the onion domes of eastern European churches to delicatessen favorites and Brier Hill pizza to the jazz and blues music of African Americans. More recent arrivals from Puerto Rico, the middle east, and various parts of Asia have added to our cultural mix, bringing new foods and new traditions. We can trace the experience of immigration and migration through family stories, preserved in letters, diaries, photographs, documents, and other materials. The memories held in these materials are of interest not only to local families but also to scholars and students who want to understand the history of immigration and migration, work, language, and the community.

Steel Valley Voices is a collaboration among the Center for Applied History, University Archives of Maag Library, the Center for Working Class Studies, the Youngstown Historical Center of Industry and Labor and the History Department at Youngstown State University. Steel Valley Voices was developed by former YSU Professor and Co-Director of the Center for Working Class Studies, Dr. Sherry Linkon.

Project Staff

Dr. Donna DeBlasio is a professor of History at YSU and Director of the Center for Applied History.  Much of her historical research focuses on Youngstown’s working-class communities, including company housing, Idora Park, architecture, and other topics.  She is the co-author of Catching Stories: A Practical Guide to Oral History (Swallow Press, 2009) and administrator of the Steel Valley Voices website.

Ben Lariccia began Steel Valley Voices by collecting, annotating, and translating letters sent to members of his family from their relatives in Italy, between the 1890s and the 1970s.

Dr. Carmen Leone is the author of Rose Street: A Family Story and Rose Street Revisited. He taught English at Edinboro University and at Youngstown State University.  With Robert A. Calcagni, he also wrote a guide for collecting and writing family stories, Remembering Our Rose Streets.

Dr. Martha Pallante is chair of YSU’s History Department.  Along with her research on the Niles Firebrick Company, Martha is also writing a cookbook based on her own family’s history and recipes.

Tom Welsh earned a doctorate in Cultural Foundations of Education, writing about the history of parochial schools in Youngstown.  He has also researched and written about his own family’s history in the Mahoning Valley.


Community Advisory Board

Stacey Adger

Jeremiah Blaylock

Bob Casey

Ellen Douglas

Loretta Ekoniak

Bill Lawson

Frank Nolasco

Natalie Scala

Mary Ellen Wilcox