John Lignelli History Room

The Donora Public Library maintains a Local History Vertical File in its John Lignelli History Room. The vertical file is arranged by geographical location, and within each location, alphabetically by topic. The vertical file collection includes information about towns, cities, events, individuals, organizations, houses, families, landmarks, and other topics relating to Donora Borough, Carroll Township, other Monongahela Valley municipalities, and state or national events having local impact.

Photocopied newspaper clippings predominate in the files, although there are also brochures, pamphlets, images, and ephemeral materials. (A few items having greater artifactual than informational value are included, as they reveal changing social mores through their format and subject treatment).

The File has been maintained by library staff over a period of years, with most of the contents added since 2001. The Vertical File Collection does not aspire to be a comprehensive source of information on any topic. Items in this collection are protected by applicable copyright laws.

The vertical files are available for public use in the Lignelli Local History Room during regular library hours. We ask that you complete a user survey form when you do so.

  • Numbering system and how to cite: Each item or folder bears a number preceded by the initials “DPL,” for example, DPL2015-52-5. In the example, the initials stand for “Donora Public Library,” “2015” is the year of the accession (when item was filed, labeled, and recorded), “52” means it was the fifty-second accession made that year, and “5” indicates that there are five items in the accession.
  • Please cite as The Local History Vertical File Special Collection, item or folder accession number(s), Donora Public Library, 510 Meldon Ave., Donora, PA 15033.

Click here for the spreadsheet of the contents of the Donora and Carroll Township Vertical Files

Please note: The vertical files are added to frequently, and it is not possible to maintain a completely up-to-date-list of our holdings. We invite you to call or visit the library to see if we have specific Donora or Carroll Township information not listed here, or to see what vertical file information we have on other localities.



In-person microfilm research:

Printing image from microfilm : 30 cents per sheet

Pages saved to your travel (aka “thumb” or “jump”) drive: No charge

Reading the microfilm : No charge

     If you are unable to visit the library and would like to have a member of the Donora library staff research in the microfilm for you, we regret that we must charge whether the desired information is found or not.*  (You may wish to look through the linked pages below showing  issues known to be missing).  Please send your written request accompanied by your check or money order made out to the Donora Public Library.  The library address is 510 Meldon Ave., Donora, PA 15033.  Fees are as follows:

            Specific name or topic and complete date (month, day, year) it appeared: $5.00

            Specific name or topic and incomplete date (month and year) of appearance: $10.00

We will begin the search when we receive your written request and payment; if our search is successful, we will send you a printout of the article.

*Please be advised that the early Donora newspapers seem not to have printed obituaries or birth announcements of ordinary individuals.

1880 Federal Census, Washington County, PA (part)

1900 Census—Washington County, PA

1910 Census—Washington County, PA

1920 Federal Census—Washington County, PA

1930 Census, Donora, PA

1913 Donora Illustrated (prospectus with photographs)

 Donora Evening Herald 1/1/1916 through 12/31/1924  Please click here to see a list of available Evening Herald issues: Donora Evening Herald 1916-1924

Donora American 4/19/1901through 1924.

Donora Herald-American 1924 through 11/27/1970  Please click here for a list of available American and Herald-American issues: Donora American and Herald-American

Monongahela, Pa, Daily Republican 1/3/61 through 6/30/72

 Donora news subsequent to 11/27/1970 may be found in the Monessen, Pa.  Valley Independent or in the Washington, Pa. Observer-Reporter.  The Monessen Public Library has the Valley Independent microfilm  from 1901 to the  present.

World War II Webster-Fellsburg Sentinel Newspaper now available! 

Hurry, Hurry, read all about it! The Donora Public Library is pleased to announce that photocopies of the original World War II Webster-Fellsburg Sentinel newspaper are available to be read here in our Local History room! Thanks to retired Library circulation clerk Alberta Alonzo’s loan of her issues of this historic publication, readers can now glimpse life on the Mid-Mon Valley home front and read notes sent home by the men and women serving in every theater of the war.

Led by Donora Wire Mill Superintendent George D. Johnston, the all-volunteer, seven-member Webster-Fellsburg District Military, Naval, and Home Service Committee and a supporting cast of reporters and typists maintained the morale of their former neighbors with anecdotes of daily life here and news of their buddies in other branches of the service. Each four-page paper (and one six-page exception), printed twice monthly in Monongahela, was sent to servicemen and -women free of charge, but sold for five cents (later ten cents) at home. In addition, each person known to be in the Armed Forces from the Webster-Fells Church vicinity (pre-war population approximately 3,000) received a Christmas box of candy from the Committee.

The library’s 52 copies of The Sentinel range from the second issue, dated March 1, 1943 (Vol. 1, #2) through October 5, 1945 (Vol. 3 #10). We are missing six issues: Volume 1, #1 (2/15/43), Vol. 1, #7 (5/15/43), #12 (8/1), and #15 (9/15). Vol. 2 #18, (11/1/1944) is missing, as is Vol. 2 #23 (1/15/1945). If anyone owns one or more of these missing issues, the Library would appreciate the opportunity to photocopy and/or scan the pages to preserve in our collection and make available for others to see.

We are delighted to offer an opportunity those interested in the Second World War or local history, and to genealogists seeking knowledge of their Webster-Fells Church area relatives, to read The Sentinel  during regular library hours,11-7 Monday-Thursday, 11-5 Friday, or 10-5 Friday.

Also, as the pages of The Sentinel are chock-full of names of people, places, and events, we recognize that an index to it would be helpful, but that is a project we at the Library have not been able to do. Therefore, anyone wishing to volunteer to improve access to The Sentinel by indexing it (or to correct ocr scans of its pages) is asked to call the Donora Public Library at 724-379-7940, or to send an e-mail to <>.  We look forward to hearing from you!