cover of book

A Gift of Belief: Philanthropy and the Forging of Pittsburgh
edited by Kathleen W. Buechel
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2021
Paper: 978-0-8229-6685-2 | eISBN: 978-0-8229-8832-8 | Cloth: 978-0-8229-4680-9
Library of Congress Classification HV99.P65G54 2021
Dewey Decimal Classification 361.70974886


Philanthropy has long been associated with images of industrial titans and wealthy families. In Pittsburgh, long a center for industry, the shadows of Carnegie, Mellon, Frick, and others loom especially large, while the stories of working-class citizens who uplifted their neighbors remain untold. For the first time, these two portraits of Pittsburgh philanthropy converge in a rich historic tapestry. The Gift of Belief reveals how Pittsburghers from every strata, creed, and circumstance organized their private resources for the public good. The industrialists and their foundations are here but stand alongside lesser known philanthropists equally involved in institution building, civic reform, and community empowerment.

Beginning with sectarian philanthropy in the nineteenth century, moving to scientific philanthropy in the early twentieth century and Pittsburgh Renaissance-era institution-building, and concluding with modern entrepreneurship, twelve authors trace how Pittsburgh aligned with, led, or lagged behind the national philanthropic story and explore how ideals of charity and philanthropy entwined to produce distinctive forms of engagement that has defined Pittsburgh’s civic life.

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