The BIAAS blog series features posts by junior and senior scholars in the field of Austrian-American studies. The views and opinions expressed in these blogs are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of BIAAS.

American Red Cross aids Italian civilians caught in the WWI Austrian German advance on the Swiss-Austrian frontier, ca. 1918.

BIAAS Austro-Americana Blogs

Steel City Haydnsaal: The Austrian Nationality Room in Pitt’s Cathedral of Learning

By Kristina E. Poznan

Jutting skyward on the University of Pittsburgh campus is one of the tallest educational buildings in the world, the Cathedral of Learning. The 2,000-room Cathedral was commissioned in 1921 and began hosting classes in 1931. In addition to the academic and administrative departments housed in this building, it contains over two dozen instructional spaces each designed to celebrate a different culture that had an influence on Pittsburgh's growth, reflecting the significance of the city’s immigrant population. European states, through local organizing committees, were granted the opportunity to decorate “nationality rooms” in the post-war era. The Cathedral as a whole was a unifying project, but the distribution of classrooms based on new political borders in Europe formally divided Pittsburgh’s immigrants. “Each group had to form a Room Committee, which would be responsible for all fundraising, designing, and acquisition.” Pittsburgh residents hailing from Austria-Hungary could be represented by the Czechoslovak Nationality Room (1939), German Nationality Room (1938), Hungarian Nationality Room (1939), Polish Nationality Room (1940), Romanian Nationality Room (1943), and Yugoslav Nationality Room (1939). (An Israel Heritage Room was added in 1987 and a Ukrainian Room in 1990). This method of division stands in contrast to that employed by the Cleveland Cultural Gardens, which apportioned spaces by ethno-linguistic cultures, rather than by country.


Transatlantic Academic Cooperation in the Interwar: James T. Shotwell and the Austrian and Hungarian Series of the Carnegie Endowment's "Social and Economic Consequences of the Great War"

By Tamara Scheer

Columbia University historian James T. Shotwell began his project of publishing an international series on the social and economic consequences of the Great War when he became the director of research for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in 1917. He proposed an alternative historiography. Shotwell’s publication plans were not the Carnegie Endowment’s first such undertaking. The Balkan Report of 1914 examined the causes of the two Balkan wars (1912/1913) by ‘concentrating on destruction and suffering of warfare, rather than martial glory,’ as historian William Mulligan has noted, and to ‘shame the belligerents and reinforce the rules of war.’ For the Great War undertaking, Shotwell sought to focus on the consequences rather than to publish a history of the war. While reports on the Balkan Wars tended to present readers with the perspectives of the non-belligerent states, Shotwell planned to engage authors from all major belligerents. Authors from victorious and defeated powers were to address the same topics, including economy, labour, governance, and public health.