This week, local historian Tammy Hepps will give an online talk about her original research into the Jewish history of Homestead entitled “Steeltown Jews: History & Legacy at Work in Homestead, PA.”
Hepps’s research begins in 1881 with the arrival of Homestead’s first Jewish family. She is a descendant of some of Homestead’s earliest Jewish residents, a fact that inspired her research into the community’s Jewish past.
She is the creator of the Homestead Hebrews project, a wide-ranging history of Jewish Homestead. The project website includes genealogical information on many of the community’s prominent families, indexes of the existing synagogue records, as well as documents of important community events such as the 1911 arson that destroyed Homestead’s first synagogue, the rebuilding of the community’s second synagogue and Homestead’s experience of World War I.
Hepps says that her research strives to uncover local individual and communal stories otherwise overlooked in the history of Western Pa.
“You can use genealogical methods to restore people’s sense of place in their local history,” she says. “Who were these people; what did they do in their social lives? Business lives? Religion, culture, sports, every facet of their community lives provides the bigger picture that explains why people came to have a special feeling about this place.”
A press release from the Battle of Homestead Foundation describes Hepps as “a Pittsburgh genealogist who takes a creative and rigorous approach to rediscovering the most compelling and authentic narratives of the past and how they shape our present and future.”The talk, hosted by the Battle of Homestead Foundation, will take place on Thu., March 23 from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Zoom. The program is free, but attendees must register in advance to get the link. For those unable to attend the event, a recording will be available on the Battle of Homestead Foundation’s Youtube channel shortly thereafter.