Test your knowledge of women’s history on this Pittsburgh scavenger hunt

“It’ll be fun, entertaining, and educational. It’s a great way to know what our history is — or as they call it ‘herstory.'”

George Washington and explorer Christopher Gist visit Queen Aliquippa. Learn more about Queen Aliquippa at 'Find Her.'

George Washington and explorer Christopher Gist visit Queen Aliquippa. Learn more about Queen Aliquippa at 'Find Her.'

Wikimedia Commons
Rossilynne Culgan

Women shaped Pittsburgh — and the world — but their contributions often go unknown.

In its second year, Find Her Women’s History Scavenger Hunt aims to change that by shining a spotlight on the history of pioneering Pittsburgh women through some fun and friendly competition.

Saturday’s scavenger hunt will focus on Pittsburgh women who have contributed to the city through the arts, sciences, and civil rights, most of whom have passed away. Their names will remain a secret until the day-of, so as not to give away clues. As a reference point, last year’s tour featured Mary Lou Williams, a renowned jazz musician who grew up in East Liberty, Mary Caldwell Dawson, a pioneering musician, and Therese Rocco, the city’s first female assistant police chief.

“I talk to women and a lot of times, we don’t know our own history,” said Anna Marie Petrarca Gire, of Brookline, who created the scavenger hunt. “As I delved into research, I realized there was a lot that I didn’t know. The more I looked, the more I found.”

There are lessons to be learned from women in Pittsburgh history, Gire said, noting the city’s strong feminist community in the 1970s. “Unfortunately,” she said, “some of the things they were fighting for, we were fighting for, are being fought again today.”

Find Her is open to anybody, including history novices, and, yes, men. You’ll be looking for hidden objects, historical markers, public art and even current women leaders who will reveal answers to clues.

“It’ll be fun, entertaining, and educational. It’s a great way to know what our history is — or as they call it ‘herstory,'” Gire said.

She recommends assembling a team of four, so one person can drive while the others can decipher clues. Yes, you need a car for the hunt, which will take place across Pittsburgh, though exact locations can’t be specified either, because that might give away clues.

Learn Pittsburgh women’s history on a scavenger hunt

Discover the stories of pioneering Pittsburgh women through the Find Her Women's History Scavenger Hunt. Participants must RSVP online for this free event, so organizers can email you the starting location just hours before the citywide hunt begins.

Where: Various locations in Pittsburgh

When: August 25, 2018 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

How much: Free — register in advance online


The first team to finish gets a $200 prize, and all teams are invited to watch a theatrical performance at the last station, where local actresses will perform monologues depicting the lives of four Pittsburgh women:

  • Queen Aliquippa, a Native American leader who lived in the area before the French and Indian War. Jennifer Schaupp will tell her tale.
  • Vernell Lillie, founder of the Kuntu Repertory Theatre. Genna Styles will share her story.
  • Michelle Madoff, a longtime city council leader. Arlene Weiner wrote the monologue, and Adrienne Wehr will perform it.
  • Labor organizer Fannie Sellins, portrayed by Kathleen Downey.

Gire described the historical figures in the scavenger hunt as “women who are from Pittsburgh or found Pittsburgh, women who’ve gone above and beyond to showcase the true definition of feminism.”

“We started talking about all these women who have made some impact on Pittsburgh, and I only knew a small percentage. As a Pittsburgh native, I was a little embarrassed. It made me realize the number of women in Pittsburgh history that have made an impact that we just don’t know about,” said Jennifer Schaupp, artistic director for the monologues and a teacher at Point Park University. “Many of these stories are still not being told.”