Oral Histories

The Pittsburgh Philanthropy Project includes a series of oral history interviews that will inform the Project’s narrative book of commissioned essays, Reflections on Philanthropy in Pittsburgh. These interviews will result in a one-of-a-kind historical resource of the perspectives of local philanthropists and foundation and civic leaders.

To date, more than 44 interviews capture these individuals’ largely unheralded stories. The interviews offer an opportunity to explore the shared values, characteristics and formative experiences of these key observers. They should help contemporary seekers to discern whether there are particular attributes that undergird and describe what motivates and differentiates philanthropy in Pittsburgh over time. By moving from their personal stories and views to civic and regional topics, the interviews should inform the work of the book authors’ and give rise to the themes of the book of essays.

The oral history project creates and transcribes video and audio historical materials of the highest quality. Video is recorded on high-definition cameras at WQED. A 12-minute video on the distinctive spirit of Philanthropy in Pittsburgh will be created from the interviews in 2012. The video will serve as a standalone educational piece and an entrée to the archived oral histories. Additional excerpts from key interviews will be featured on this website and in GSPIA Perspectives periodically to encourage further exploration. A separate digitized audio track and transcriptions of each interview will further enhance the educational and historical value of these oral histories. In time these will be professionally curated to increase their use by future generations.