Welcome to Pittsburgh: Historical Fiction

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Reading a story set in the place where you live or have lived has a special appeal. If you grew up in the city and its environs, the story can give you a new point of view, possibly from a character whose life is different than yours.

If you are new to the area, this type of reading gives you an insight into the mythologies that have built up around the place. Or, it can provide a source of good-natured nitpicking with friends if you think the author got something wrong in their portrayal.

With the 125th Anniversary of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh upon us, what better time to delve into a story of Pittsburgh’s past? Historical fiction can bring the past to life in a way that nonfiction might not be able to.

Place yourself in a steel mill, discover August Wilson’s Hill District, and immerse yourself in family sagas of the rich and the working-class.

Check out our other Pittsburgh fiction lists for Realistic and Contemporary fiction, Sci-Fi and Fantasy, and Mysteries and Thrillers, too!

You can sign up for a free library card here. If you are new to our eResources, check out these tutorial videos on how to get started.

Looking for a good book, album, movie or TV show? We’re happy to recommend them to you! Use this Personalized Recommendations form to send us some information about what you like and we’ll curate a list just for you.

If you have any additional questions, you can contact a librarian through FacebookInstagram or Twitter. You can also call us at 412.622.3114 or email us at info@carnegielibrary.org.

Blood on the Forge

The Great Migration leads three brothers from the rural South to labor in the steel mills – originally published in 1941. 

Catina’s Haircut: A Novel in Stories

In interlinked stories, a family’s experiences from Calabria, Italy to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania illuminate the strength and hope of the women within them. 

Consecrated Dust: A Novel of the Civil War North

Four young Pittsburghers’ lives lead them to be at either the Allegheny Arsenal on September 17, 1862, when a dangerous explosion rocks the building, or on the battlefield of Antietam that same day. 

East Liberty

A boy grows up without a father in an Italian-American Pittsburgh neighborhood in the ‘50s and ‘60s, even as he begins to learn more things about this absent man. You can also check out this title as eBook on Hoopla.

I Can’t Wait on God

In 1950s Pittsburgh a couple sets out in a car stolen from a murdered pimp and subsequently travels to find a child the woman abandoned years ago.

Iron City

Originally published in 1951, this autobiographical novel is based on the author’s life as a labor organizer and political prisoner. Lonnie James, a young Black man, is falsely accused of the murder of a white man and must find solidarity with his fellow prisoners in order to save his life.

Jitney: A Play

Urban renewal threatens the dingy office of Becker’s gypsy cab company in the Hill District, just as his estranged son returns. You can also check out this title as eBook on Hoopla.

Monongahela Dusk

A businessman and a blacklisted union militant unite to foil the plot of an assassination of a union leader.

Out of This Furnace

Traces three generations of a Slovak family as they arrive in America, end up in Braddock, and become entangled with financial speculation and worker’s rights in the midst of backbreaking labor. You can also check out this title as eBook on OverDrive/Libby.

Sent for You Yesterday

Imagining Homewood from the 1920s to the 1970s through the eyes of a man returning there after years on the run.

The Valley of Decision

A saga about four generations of a family who own and operate a Pittsburgh iron and steel works, from 1873 through the beginning of World War II. Originally published in 1942.