John (Chummy) Lignelli History Center

A special collection of local and Pennsylvania history

The Donora Public Library maintains a vertical file 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.

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.


Calling in advance will help us prepare for your use of digital microfilm reader and printer.
*In-person microfilm research:
*Printing image from microfilm : 25 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 our microfilm for you, we must charge whether the desired information is found or not.  Please send your written request accompanied by your check or money order made out to the Donora Public Library, 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.

Microfilm reels
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 
Donora Herald-American 1924 through 11/27/1970 
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 

Our local history center also houses photocopies of the original World War II Webster-Fellsburg Sentinel newspaper that can 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.

Also, as the pages of The Sentinel are 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 is asked to call the Donora Public Library at 724-379-7940, or to send an e-mail to

  • 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.