Pittsburgh recognizes remarkable women through video series
Pittsburgh has been home to scores of women who achieved remarkable success during their lifetime, but they remain mostly forgotten in history books, according to Gloria Forouzan.
Forouzan, who serves as Mayor Bill Peduto’s office manager, said she was astounded to learn a woman was one of the city’s first industrialists. Another became the first black woman to earn a doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh. A third was a fierce Shawnee Indian warrior, who went into battle against the British clad only in war paint, but later became a peaceful chief. She wrote what Forouzan believes is the first book translating a Native American language into English.
The city is recognizing some of those women during Women’s History Month in March through a series of videos. The first three cover the lives of Mary Pattison Irwin, an Irish immigrant who established a thriving rope making business in the 1790s; Jean Walls, the first black woman to earn bachelor’s and doctorate degrees from Pitt; and Nonhelema, a Shawnee Indian.
The YouTube videos are four to five minutes long.
“This started in 2014 when I was researching for Pittsburgh’s bicentennial,” Forouzan said. “Resource upon resource talked about white men. Here and there it mentioned a woman did this and a woman did that, one or two sentences. I got a little frustrated.”
She kept notes on the women and has so far found 285 who have done remarkable deeds.
The city will release several videos each week. Forouzan said interns in the mayor’s office helped with research and writing narratives. She expects to run about eight videos before month’s end.
“What I would like to do is when I retire organize these stories into a book,” she said.
Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, [email protected] or via Twitter .