Project Overview

Project Overview

Note:  If you choose to access the history via IPad or tablet, you will need to use the wide screen or landscape mode.

This website offers a brief history of the English department at the University of Pittsburgh.

The first two links provide the early history: from 1787-1819, during the period of the Pittsburgh Academy; and from 1819-1860, after the founding of the Western University of Pennsylvania. For these two sections, we relied heavily on Agnes Lynch Starrett, Through One Hundred and Fifty Years: The University of Pittsburgh (U of Pittsburgh Press, 1937).  

From the 1860s on, the links are organized by decade. Here, most of the material was drawn from the University of Pittsburgh archives. We are grateful to the archivists for their generous assistance: Marianne Kasica and Miriam Meislik. For context, we also relied upon Robert C. Alberts, Pitt: The Story of the University of Pittsburgh, 1787-1987 (U of Pittsburgh P, 1986). The current project ends with the 1960s.  

Each historical period is represented by five sections. There is an Overview, which provides a general summary. There is a page on Courses, which notes changes in the curriculum. We provide a roster of Faculty and, where we can, we have prepared brief biographies. We list Students (as possible) and provide brief notes on graduates with distinctive careers. There is also a section titled "Footnotes," where we describe distinctive events or projects, and where we gather documents and images.

Please note:  There are internal links to documents, many held in the University Archives.   These are most often links to publications by students or faculty members.   Due to systems changes, not all of these are now direct links, particularly in the case of links to student writing.   Instead, you will be directed to the magazine or journal that contains the publication.   These will have tables of contents—but it is also a pleasure to browse!

If you have corrections or additions, please direct them to the individuals below. If you have documents or images, please send them as well. We will be careful with their use and, with your permission, place them in the University Archives.

David Bartholomae
Annette Vee

Department of English  526CL
University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA 15260

Acknowledgements:    We are very grateful to Anna Redcay, who first began working in the archives to gather material for this project. Anna helped to create the format for this website and wrote some of its first entries. We owe a huge debt to Jean Grace, who helped with the design of the website and who oversaw its construction. We are grateful to the research assistants who followed Anna Redcay—Tara Lockhart, Kathryn Kidd, Maria Sholtis, and Nina Sabak—and to Jesse-Burton Nicholson, Cristina Correnti, and Dara Liling, who helped to bring the project on-line. Sarah Loser and Bridget Duffy, undergraduate research assistants, helped to gather and select examples of student writing. Bridget Duffy tracked down undergraduate prize winners and helped to prepare their entries. Lauren Hall researched and prepared materials for our entries on Edwin Peterson. 

In 2020 the School of Arts and Sciences redesigned departmental websites.   Given its length and complexity, the History presented unanticipated problems for the designers, and there was some question as to whether the original site could be restored.  Fortunately, Zachary Brodt (the University Archivist) and Amanda Gilman (Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences), preserved copies of the original website.  And Annette Vee (English Department) adapted the History for the new platform.  Without their efforts, the History would have been lost.


March 25, 2021