Hello! My name is Jennifer Sopko and I’m a Pittsburgh-based writer with a love of history that permeates both my avocation and personal interests. I believe it’s absolutely vital to document and preserve the past and I am always in search of a new story to tell.
I have worked as a professional writer and historian in western Pennsylvania for more than 14 years. I am experienced in print and online magazine and newspaper writing and I hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA.
My avocation as a writer and historian keeps me busy. Since 2003, I have written about the Ligonier Valley, Westmoreland County and southwestern Pennsylvania for several regional publications. My current writing projects mainly focus on southwestern Pennsylvania history with goals of enlightening readers about forgotten and obscure regional history and reinterpreting connections between familiar topics.
I am the author of Ligonier Valley Vignettes: Tales from the Laurel Highlands, a series of historical vignettes about Pennsylvania’s Ligonier Valley that was published by The History Press. My second book, Idlewild: History and Memories of Pennsylvania’s Oldest Amusement Park, a comprehensive history of what began as a western Pennsylvania railroad park and is now an award winning children’s park, will be published on April 2, 2018.
Since 2003, I have worked as a stringer for the Latrobe Bulletin, a daily newspaper based in Latrobe, PA, primarily covering local government in the Ligonier Valley area, as well as writing features on local history, community events and other news. My stories also appear in the Bulletin‘s sister publication, The Ligonier Echo, a weekly newspaper based in Ligonier, PA.
Since 2004, I have contributed articles for Westmoreland History, a publication of the Westmoreland County Historical Society (WCHS), relating the history of a variety of personages, places, and establishments in Westmoreland County, PA, including: Idlewild Park; the Greensburg, PA Volunteer Fire Department; Civil War general Richard Coulter; Fairview Park; drive-in theaters; and early 20th century opera houses.
In 2011, I became the education correspondent for the Tube City Almanac, a locally-owned and independent online journal featuring news and events in McKeesport, PA and surrounding areas. I now currently serve on Tube City Community Media board of directors.
I have also contributed to Western Pennsylvania History, which is the region’s oldest continually published magazine that’s produced quarterly by the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, PA.
My work with the WCHS branched off into an association with the Pennsylvania Room at the Ligonier Valley Library in Ligonier, PA, which gave me the opportunity to curate a photo and memorabilia exhibit during the summer of 2009 featuring Pennsylvania drive-in theaters. My exhibit was based on an article I wrote for the historical society featuring past and present drive-in theaters in Westmoreland County. Today, I continue to volunteer in the PA Room and assist with the library’s annual exhibits.
My experience working on the multidimensional drive-in exhibit allowed me to expand my words into a large-scale project and cultivate a taste for curating and archiving. I hope to pursue museum studies in the future.
My personal interests include: reading 19th and early 20th century British and American literature; rocking out at concerts with my favorite classic rock bands; spending time with friends and loved ones; playing flute, traveling; collecting vintage baseball cards; and cheering for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Penguins and Pirates.
*If you would like to hire me or license any of the personal photos I have posted on my website, please contact me via my contact form. I am always happy and willing to work with any and all interested parties! Thank you!