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November 10, 2016

Library Insider


ULS and the Year of Diversity

With the Jan. 15 deadline for Year of Diversity proposals for funding fast approaching, it’s an ideal time to look at some University Library System collections unique to Pitt that fit under the umbrella of diversity; several prominent ones are highlighted below.

The ULS wants to help you utilize library content, expertise and tools, so if any of the following spark your imagination, contact Ed Galloway ( or Jeanann Haas ( to discuss the possibility of partnering with us around these or any of our other unique collections.

American Service Institute

The American Service Institute was founded in Pittsburgh in 1941 to promote better understanding and appreciation among people of all cultural and national backgrounds. For 20 years the institute created studies and reports on community projects, immigration and naturalization, the aged population, youth immigration and cultural groups’ customs and traditions.

Civil rights pamphlets

Among these resources are several pamphlets published by the Communist Party promoting racial equality, promotional literature for the Urban League of New York and publications of other important civil rights organizations.

Elsie H. Hillman papers

Elsie Hillman was an advocate for the greater involvement of both African Americans and women in the political arena and specifically in the Republican Party at local, state and national levels. She also worked as a philanthropist to better the lives of all Americans, particularly the poor, inner city youth and those affected by HIV/AIDS.

Jean Witter papers

This collection documents the activism of Jean Witter, a Pittsburgh lawyer who was heavily involved with the National Organization for Women and was an advocate for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.

Kuntu Repertory Theatre Collection

The Kuntu Repertory Theatre was the oldest and largest African-American performing arts center in Pittsburgh. Founded in 1974 by Vernell A. Lillie, professor emeritus in Pitt’s Department of Africana Studies, Kuntu produced more than 139 mainstage plays and conducted over 530 master classes and workshops before it closed nearly 40 years later.

National Council of Jewish Women, Pittsburgh chapter

This collection consists of organizational records such as correspondence, memorabilia, reports, minutes, photographs and oral histories, 1894-97.

Nationality Rooms

The University holds the archives of many of the committees that were formed to create, finance and build the Nationality Rooms. These rooms reflect many of the immigrants who flocked to Pittsburgh for work.

Percival L. Prattis papers

This collection contains documents relating to the life and career of journalist Percival L. Prattis, executive editor of the Pittsburgh Courier, the local African-American newspaper that had a national circulation.

Pittsburgh gay periodicals

This collection of periodicals documents the gay experience in Pittsburgh from the 1970s to the 1990s and includes titles such as Pittsburgh Gay News, Gay News Pittsburgh Edition, Gay Life, Planet Queer and Pittsburgh’s Out. These periodicals document national and regional activism, news and history as reported by the gay press.

Ramón Gómez de la Serna papers

Ramón Gómez de la Serna was a prolific Spanish-Argentinian poet, novelist and essayist known for creating a new literary genre he named the “greguería.” His works significantly influenced the avant-garde movement in Europe and Latin America. His personal papers consist of approximately 60,000 handwritten notes and manuscripts, clippings, photographs and annotated first editions from his library, 1906-67.

Rose Rand papers

Rose Rand, one of the earliest celebrated female philosophers, was a student member of the Vienna Circle, a group of philosophers who met on a regular basis for discussions in Vienna, Austria, 1922-38, and who proposed new philosophical ideas about the conception of scientific knowledge. The papers comprise Rand’s personal and professional records, a significant amount of correspondence and working papers, as well as notebooks, research notes, manuscript fragments and transcriptions from Vienna Circle discussions.

United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America

Since 1936, the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) has prided itself on its diverse membership and leadership.
The UE has developed a long tradition of fighting for equality in the workplace, as evidenced by its conference for working women and its fair practices committee. The UE also was the first major union in the country to elect a female international officer.

The archives contain records that detail the work of the union as one of the first to address the diversity of the American workforce.

Jeff Wisniewski is web services and communications librarian for the University Library System.

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