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The 2011 Heritage Preservation Awards honored David McCullough, Outstanding Achievement Award; Richard Mayer, Distinguished Service Award; Dr. James Alexander, Heritage Preservation Award; and Dr. Barbara Zaborowski, Heritage Preservation Award. Information on each of the honorees is available on this website; choose from the navigation bar to the left.

Dr. James Alexander, Heritage Preservation Award

Dr. James Alexander is a scholar whose research and writings have produced a body of work that enriches our understanding of Johnstown's industrial heritage and preserves historical records and perspectives that might otherwise be lost with the passage of time. He is professor of political science at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, where he also served as social science division chair from 1991-2010.

A video about Dr. Alexander's accomplishments that was shown at the awards event can be seen here.

Most notably, Alexander researched and wrote the 1991 book Jaybird: A.J. Moxham and the Manufacture of the Johnson Rail, which was published by the Johnstown Area Heritage Association. The book details how Johnstown became a world leader in an important metalworking niche: the production of street rails and electrified railway systems used in over 90 percent of American cities by the 1890s. The text also discusses the layout and development of the Moxham community, and its connection to the City of Johnstown by the newly electrified Johnstown Passenger Railway system. Today, the Moxham mill remains a significant industrial site and the Moxham community is still one of Johnstown's most notable historic neighborhoods. Click here for an online version of the "Jaybird" research.

Alexander's efforts in heritage preservation include:
  • Author, several technical reports and publications growing out of his "Jaybird" research, including an historical site analysis of the Moxham mill and its extant buildings for the Historic American Building Survey (HABS), and a profile of A.J. Moxham in American National Biography.

  • Director, History Training and Research Institute through America's Industrial Heritage Project (AIHP), supervising teams of students in mapping the evolution of selected neighborhoods in the Cambria City National Historic District (1994) and the Minersville Historic District (1995).

  • Author, Historic Cambria City Walking Tour Guide published originally in 1998 and revised in 2008. This walking tour provides historical information and photographs of the churches, houses, and other buildings in the Cambria City National Historic District and is available on-line on the JAHA site.

  • Member, Foresight 2000 Task Force on Community Goals for the Johnstown Area (1990); principal author of final report).

  • Member and presenter, Flood Centennial Committee (1987-1989).

  • Member, Richland Township Sesquientennial Committee (1983).

  • Member, Allegheny Ridge Industrial Heritage Corridor Task Force (1990-1992)

  • Archival research for the Cambria County Transit Authority, the Johnstown Flood Museum, and the Johnstown Corporation, and construction and cataloging of a 350-image photographic archival collection on the history of Johnstown street railways (1987-1993).


More about Dr. Alexander's research can be found on his website, here.


About the Heritage Preservation Award event on April 30, 2011
The Heritage Preservation Awards will be presented at a dinner event on April 30, which will be held at the Frank J. Pasquerilla Conference Center.

The event's major sponsor is Peoples Natural Gas Co., which was founded in 1885 in Pittsburgh as the first natural gas company recorded in Pennsylvania. Today, Peoples serves more than 359,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in 16 counties in southwestern Pennsylvania.

A volunteer event committee is organizing the event. For ticket information, click here.

2011 Heritage Preservation Awards Committee
  • Chair: Linda Thomson, President, Johnstown Area Regional Industries
  • Dr. Walter Asonevich, President, Penn Highlands Community College
  • Jeffrey Lavine
  • Claudia Jones, 2010 Heritage Preservation Award honoree
  • Dr. Paul Douglas Newman, Professor of Early American History, Assistant to the Vice-President of Academic Affairs & Director of Student Academic Services at Pitt-Johnstown