Historians Want To Preserve LTV Story

CLEVELAND (AP) - Historians are asking former steel mill workers for help in preserving remnants of the defunct LTV Corp.

They're seeking personal items -- photographs, work records, anything LTV-related -- that workers may be willing to donate or have duplicated.

"What we need is the unofficial story that gives it the life," said Ben Blake, the Western Reserve Historical Society's assistant curator of manuscripts.

Cleveland was built on more than a century of steel making and was once one of the world's major steel producers. Steel was a source of pride long before it became a symbol of the region's industrial decline.

The historians already have saved what they could from LTV and union representatives.

The company is still tied up in bankruptcy court. All that remains is a skeleton crew in suburban Cleveland that exists merely to sell off the piece of business that's left -- LTV Copperweld, which makes various steel products in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

Curators hope to request small pieces of machinery from International Steel Group Inc., the company formed by the buyer of LTV's steel-making operations in Cleveland, Indiana and Illinois.

"Frankly, a lot of material was carried off by employees and is in private hands now," ISG spokesman Mark Tomasch said.

The huge canvas and glass LTV sign that once stood atop the Cleveland Works won't be seen in a museum.

"It didn't survive the dismantling," Tomasch said.

Two years ago, LTV gave the historical society a batch of material that was gathering dust, including newsletters, press releases and a production ledger with handwritten entries from 1942 to 1954.

There also were employee magazines from the late 1920s with wedding announcements and box scores from the old industrial baseball leagues.

"This was a major find," said Chris Dawson, the historical society's curator of urban and industrial history, whose grandfather was a steelworker. "Stuff like this is a real treasure."

Curators also hope to interview former mill workers and their family members to record oral histories on tape or transcripts.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)