Why all these Presbyterians, and where did they come from??

February 10, 2015

Speaker: PETER GILMORE, Historian

Peter Gilmore

Presbyterians have long had a conspicuous place in Pittsburgh, and Squirrel Hill. Nearly 170 years ago a writer proposed, “There is no part of the United States which contains a population, more distinctly and peculiarly marked, than the Presbyterian population, for perhaps, a hundred and fifty miles around Pittsburgh, as a common centre.” The prominent Presbyterian presence continued well into the twentieth century.

But why? Why did our city and region come have so many Presbyterians? And why so many Presbyterian churches, sometimes within blocks of each other?

The answers lie in European migration in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, in old-world controversies and new-world adaptation.

Historian Peter Gilmore will attempt to provide those answers, and in the process explain something about the intersection of religion, ethnicity, class and politics.

Dr. Gilmore is an adjunct lecturer in history at Carlow University, and an instructor for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Pittsburgh. At Carlow he teaches courses including “Irish American History” and “Emergence of the Modern West.” Courses taught for Osher include “History of Religion in Western Pennsylvania” (with Dr. Kathleen Parker), “Western Pennsylvania Politics to the Civil War,” and “British Isles History Through Folk Song.” During Fall 2013 Dr. Gilmore served as a postdoctoral teaching assistant at the Carnegie Mellon University branch campus in Doha, Qatar. He had previously taught at the CMU-Qatar during the 2007-2008 academic year.

Peter Gilmore received a Ph.D. in social and cultural history from Carnegie Mellon University in May 2009.

His most recent publications include “The ‘Moral Duty’ of Public Covenanting in the Antebellum United States: New-World Exigencies, Old-World Response,” which appeared last year in The Journal of Transatlantic Studies (Vol. 11, Issue 2 [2013]). He co-authored with Kerby A. Miller the essay “Southwestern Pennsylvania, 1780-1810: Searching for ‘Irish’ Freedom—Settling for ‘Scotch-Irish’ Respectability,” which appeared in Ulster to America: The Scots-Irish Migration Experience, 1680s-1830s, edited by Warren R. Hofstra and published in 2012 by the University of Tennessee Press.

Academia.edu has a listing of Kindle books, and papers by Peter Gilmore that can be downloaded for free — also contains news of new editions of publications from the 1990’s.

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