Friedberg, Joan Brest
Interview Date
Respondent Co-director, "Beginning with Books"; born 7/7/27.
[T1S1] Respondent provides family background, born near Boston, MA; notes maternal grandparents from Vilna, Lithuania; arrived 1880, married with two children; owned drug stores, then poultry farm near Boston, only one other Jewish family in area. Respondent gives name of sister, both attended 2 room schoolhouse; Respondent graduated Bryn Mawr College, 1948, English Literature; M.A., University of Pittsburgh, 1964, English Literature; Ph D, University of Pittsburgh, 1972, English Literature. Respondent comments on paternal grandparents, also from Boston area, maternal grandparents, liberal Jews; paternal grandparents, more traditional, kosher home. Respondent discusses work in NY after graduation from Bryn Mawr: Publishers Weekly; married, 1950; provides names of 3 children: careers, spouses, and grandchildren. Respondent lists several residences in Pittsburgh.; religious education of children. Respondent recounts receiving Ph D from University of Pittsburgh: 1972; remained there, taught composition literature, then children's literature, mentions collaborating with 2 colleagues on 2 books; guides to non-fiction for people with disabilities, wrote book for home care day care providers: how to have rich literacy environment for children. Respondent discusses religious education and observances in children's homes. comments on difficult times for Respondent's parents during depression years; notes parents primary influence in her life; discusses early years in school, no experiences with anti-Semitism. Respondent describes farm life, secure home, great amount of freedom, exposure to music and culture and being read to by mother. Respondent notes father lawyer, practice not lucrative, Respondent left farm, 1947, after father's death. Respondent compares urban life to farm life, schooling different; prefers farm life to city life but too difficult to earn living; misses farm but enjoys convenience of urban life; comments on family vacations. Respondent adds additional comments about children, gives names of maternal grandparents: William and Bertha Macal, paternal grandparents, Abraham and Ada Brest; father, Aaron Brest, mother Lillian Macal. Continues discussing children. Respondent comments on remarks made by president of Bryn Mawr College, Catherine McBride: stressed integrity, scholarship and full opportunities for women. Respondent comments on meeting husband, Simeon Friedberg, physicist, their courtship and marriage. Provides additional information on husband. Respondent comments on returning to graduate school to earn Ph D; lists various boards on which she serves and memberships held in other organizations; feels greatest accomplishment: "Beginning with Books" co-founded with Dr. Elizabeth (Betty) Segel: purpose to influence parents to read to their children, provided guidance to parents and made books more accessible. Respondent notes program reached 1000 families, now 4 programs, affiliated with Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh; program encourages families to use library. Respondent comments on things she would have done differently; fathers satisfaction with farming and her arrival in Pittsburgh. before the Renaissance: found city dirty, poor economic conditions and poor environmental conditions, city different now, socially, economically and physically. Respondent expresses feelings about Jews in Pittsburgh.: contributed much to city, honored and accepted, active in many causes; notes mother-in-law, Lillian Friedberg, active in many causes, went to Harrisburg to lobby for fair employment practices so all minorities would be treated equally in work world.
[T2S3] Respondent notes she did no publishing while at University of Pittsburgh; later published children's story, wrote many articles in professional journals with Betty Segel; commends National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) for oral history program, an important and invaluable endeavor, notes Respondent should have recorded history of life of parents and ancestors: how they laid down roots and raised their families.
[T2S4] (Entire tape-recorded from lecture presented at Rodef Shalom Temple) Respondent discusses "Beginning with Books": founded by Respondent and Betty Segel, both teaching children's literature at U. of Pittsburgh., asked to do workshop on reading to children; did research project, found children become enthusiastic readers when read to, people sometimes intimidated by public libraries due to bad experiences in childhood, convinced most parents want what's best for their children. Respondent describes writing proposal with Betty Segel, including budget, received funding from several Pittsburgh foundations, started "Beginning with Books", 1984; Respondent and Betty, Co-directors. Respondent explains project: prepared packets containing 4 paper back books, chose compelling books but not intimidating and books reflecting ethnicity; contacted Allegheny County Health Department for families who brought children to clinic, program started there. Respondent continues discussion: hired social worker to explain purpose of program to parents, then asked parents to evaluate program, well received. Respondent discusses 3 additional programs under umbrella of Health Department, comments on involvement with Carnegie Library, discusses "Reading Together": volunteers matched with children who have no one to read to them at home, now have parents support group to bring parents together, share family experiences with children. Respondent explains programs for parents from Head Start, pregnant teenagers and addictive children; explains development of program, 1991, for child care centers, now 2 bookmobiles driven by outreach workers, very rewarding to Respondent. Respondent reflects on growing up in Boston; takes questions from audience.
Beginning with Books Center for Early Literacy; Boston (Mass.); Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh; Children's literature; English literature; Publishers and publishing; Reading Together Program (Pittsburgh, Pa.); Segel, Elizabeth; University of Pittsburgh
Length (hours)
Herzog, Bernice
Herzog, Marvin
Berger, Betty
Collateral Materials
Box 101 FF 47
All rights reserved. University of Pittsburgh