As the Steel Making Capital of the World, this region forged the steel that built America from New York's Brooklyn Bridge to San Francisco's Oakland Bay Bridge.  Rivers of Steel has developed classroom programs, curriculum, field trips, hands-on activities and tours led by trained interpretive guides and educational professionals to tell students and visitors about the region's rich heritage in a way that provides a dynamic connection to its industrial past and contemporary life.

Folklife Education

Folklife education focuses on learning about contemporary living traditions authentically transmitted within a cultural group, such as: the ways steelworkers decorate their hardhats, the playground games that children play, the stories of coal miners, the blessing of Easter baskets in a Polish Catholic church, or the lullabies a parent sings to her children. Folklife study connects student learning in and out of school and examines the relationship of students to their cultural groups. By understanding how culture works to determine their own identity, students are better equipped to understand "others."

Folklife education involves students in investigating their own cultural traditions, interviewing and doing research to learn about the stories and customs of their families and communities, and visiting local traditional artists and tradition bearers. Schools and communities coordinate folklife education learning with other projects and curricular areas to provide youngsters with the conceptual framework for multi-cultural understanding.

Folklife education strengthens school and community projects in: oral history, intergenerational programs, community service learning, multicultural education, regional history, heritage, arts and culture.

Activities and Services

Through its Regional Folklife Center, Rivers of Steel educational programs assist schools and communities in exploring the concepts of cultural processes and the diversity of cultural traditions in our region.

Referral services, based on ethnographic surveys of the region, connect schools and communities to folk artists and other cultural tradition-bearers for oral history interviews, demonstrations, performances, workshops, multi-day residencies, or apprenticeships.

Traditional artists can receive one-on-one instruction on how to involve students and present their traditions to others

Traveling Trunks expose elementary and middle school youth to a multi-faceted look at our region's industrial and cultural heritage.  Through observation-based discussions, creative personalized projects, and hands-on contact, students are invited to explore steel-making, life on a river-barge, and other exciting subjects.  The use of recorded sound, tactile experiences, and visual imagery offers something for every type of learner.

Rivers of Steel offers training in how to do oral histories: documenting community heritage by interviewing the people who live it.

The Regional Folklife Center library includes a reference collection of folklife education resources such as classroom activities and curricular materials, profiles of model programs and publications on various groups' traditions.



Our Rivers: Yesterday and Today

Our Rivers
The story of the Monongahela River is one of our nation’s history, our industrial revolutions and one of the men and women whose labors, previously and presently, earned the Monongahela River the title of “Ruhr” – The River of Sweat.

The Monogahela: River of Dreams, River of Sweat

The history of the hardest working river in America.