Pittsburgh’s unique characteristics in the 20th century exacerbated economic and social inequities for women, but also inspired an unusually strong and vibrant women’s movement. College educated, but underemployed women in Pittsburgh were drawn to the emergent women’s movement in the 1960s to change the opportunity structure for all women. They created pioneering feminist organizations in Pittsburgh and led successful campaigns for systemic change that would help shape the national movement. In Sisterhood: The Women’s Movement in Pittsburgh is an oral history and multimedia project designed to promote a deeper understanding and appreciation of this inspiring aspect of the region’s history and to highlight how progress was achieved through the hard work and determination of a diverse group of local grassroots activists.
We recorded interviews with a diverse group of 85 individuals on digital video to capture participant’s expressions and their gestures. We invited individuals to donate their personal collections of documents, memorabilia, period photos and correspondence to the In Sisterhood project to form a more complete history of the women’s movement. Using these materials, we curated three unique multimedia exhibits that were installed in galleries and museums across the Region. Finally, we are producing a documentary, Changing the Want Ads, to celebrate successful campaigns for systemic change locally that had national impact.
When the project has been completed, we intend to donate our extensive archive of the women’s movement in Pittsburgh to the University of Pittsburgh Library Archive where it will be available to scholars as well as the public interested in regional and national history.
Patricia Ulbrich, Ph.D., is the founder and director of In Sisterhood Project. She is a progressive social scientist whose research has focused on women’s issues, including how individuals’ race, class and gender shape their lives. She co-founded the Women and Girls Foundation of Southwest Pennsylvania and served on the boards of Sociologists for Women in Society and Pittsburgh Action Against Rape. Other team members include Dino DiStefano, sound recordist and documentary photographer; Mia Boccella Hartle and Will Zavala, videographers and editors; Marie Skoczylas, research assistant and interviewer; LaTasha Mayes, interviewer; and Deanna Webb, archivist.