DECEMBER 8, 2009
Speaker: Barbara S. Burstin, PhD., University of Pittsburgh, Department of History, Author and Sq.Hill Historical Society Member
BOOK: Steel City Jews: Pittsburgh
Was called by various observers “Hell with the Lid On” and “Hell with the Lid Off.” It was a city rich in contrasts and rich in its history. And amid the swirling currents that made up the vibrant flow of the city’s life, navigated the Jews, an immigrant group that began settling in the region in the 1840s. They might not have rivaled the likes of Carnegie and Frick, but they had their own movers and shakers. Come meet A. Leo Weil who battled municipal corruption and graft, the Kaufmann brothers of department store fame, Barney Dreyfuss who launched the Pittsburgh Pirates, Bertha Rauh, community service volunteer extraordinaire, and a whole host of others who made their contribution to the development of the town.
For Burstin, a transplant to the region, Pittsburgh is a city that fascinates and intrigues. Ten years in the making, she scoured attics and cellars, explored a whole variety of archival collections and books, and drew on personal interviews to weave her account of the city and its Jewish community. She recounts the tale in an entertaining and informative way that all Pittsburghers and those who care about Pittsburgh can relish and enjoy.
Barbara S. Burstin is a graduate of Vassar College, Masters at Columbia Teachers College and PH.D. at the University of Pittsburgh. she has been teaching for over 20 years at the University of Pittsburgh and for many years also at Carnegie Mellon University. The courses she currently teaches are on the American Jewish Experience and the United States and the Holocaust. Selected publications include: After the Holocaust: The Migration of Polish Jews and Polish Christian to Pittsburgh After World War II published by the University of Pittsburgh Press and now Steel City Jews. She has also created and directed a film entitled A Jewish Legacy: Pittsburgh which is now available in DVD.