Former Curators: Dorothy E. Pearth


Biographical information from Patty Scott and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette obituary, March 24, 1996

PearthDorothy Evelyn Long Pearth grew up on a 100-acre farm in Coles Summit, PA, where her father was the stationmaster for the railroad. One of seven siblings, Dorothy contracted rheumatic fever as a teenager, and most probably because of that illness and recovery, Dorothy's family always considered her frail. Apparently Dorothy never agreed with that assessment, as she was often seen hauling several large tools at the same time into one garden or another. Nonetheless, Dorothy's family maintained the perception of Dorothy as in need of special protection; and not only was she protected, Dorothy was adored.

There are diaries from the time of her rheumatic fever. There is never a complaint; just an entry that "the doctor came today" or some such note, and then Dorothy would go on to describe the knitting she was doing or some other handwork project. She was artistic and musical, and to every project or work she turned, she brought painstaking detail.

As a young girl Dorothy was graduated from the Felix Mahoney School of Fine and Applied Arts in Washington, DC. After 3 years at Juniata College, she transferred to the University of Pittsburgh where she majored and did graduate work in botany. At the same time she studied art at night at Carnegie Mellon University. Mrs. Pearth obtained a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Pittsburgh. She started at Carnegie Museum of Natural History as a secretary in the 1940s under Dr. M. Graham Netting. A few years later she transferred to the Botany Section from which she retired in 1978 as Associate Curator of Botany Emeritus. She also served as an adjunct research scientist at the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation at Carnegie Mellon University.

Among her hobbies, in addition to art, was music. She played violin in the orchestra at Pitt and at Juniata College.

Among her publications are "Additions to the Flowering Plants of Western Pennsylvania" (those not included in the Jennings' Flora of 1953) and "The Flora of Westmoreland County Pennsylvania". Honors include, among others, appointment as an Adjunct Research Scientist at the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation at Carnegie Mellon University. Some of the organizations in which she held membership were the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, The Hillcrest Garden Club, the Botanical Society of Western Pennsylvania, and the Herb Society of America, Western Pennsylvania unit, which she served as president. Dorothy Pearth died of a stroke on March 22, 1996.