National Museum of Industrial History Launches “Forging Community” Initiative

For Immediate Release – November 9, 2017

National Museum of Industrial History Launches “Forging Community” Initiative

On Saturday, November 18th, the National Museum of Industrial History will launch a new “Forging Communities” initiative, aimed at collecting the stories of families and ancestors who immigrated to the Lehigh Valley to work in industry.  Earlier this year NMIH received a $7,500 grant from the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation towards a “Cabinet of Curiosities” which will utilize these stories as well as artifacts to illustrate the travels and travails faced by immigrants that came from 50 different countries to work at Bethlehem Steel.

The event will feature storyteller Betty Ann Polaha who will be performing her own original works (the story of her own immigrant family) as well as pieces taken from local author Carol Dean Henn’s “Oilcloth Stories.”  Following the performance, NMIH Educational Coordinator, Kitsa Behringer, will be collecting videoed oral histories from 3pm to 5pm.

The museum is searching for stories, particularly of individuals who have personal history of immigrating and working at Bethlehem Steel or family members whose ancestors immigrated to South Bethlehem to work there.  If you are interested in partaking in the oral history program, but are unable to attend the November 18th event, please fill out a form at  This project is part of an ongoing effort to capture and preserve not only physical artifacts from the industrial age, but also history of workers and their stories to help inspire and educate future generations.

About the National Museum of Industrial History
A Smithsonian Institution-affiliate, the National Museum of Industrial History is dedicated to preserving America’s rich industrial heritage. Housed in an 18,000-square-foot, 100-year-old former Bethlehem Steel facility on the largest private brownfield in America, the Museum is home to exciting exhibits, engaging programs and amazing history.

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Glenn Koehler

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