Eliza Smith Brown has savored history for most of her life. At times, she’s even managed to eke out a living writing about it.
Her Pittsburgh Legends and Visions: An Illustrated History was published in 2002, and she’s coauthored several other books, among them A Legacy in Bricks and Mortar: African American Landmarks in Allegheny County; A Century of Heroes (a history of the Carnegie Hero Fund); and The Duquesne Club Cookbook: Four Seasons of Fine Dining. Her work has earned her a place among the names of local authors on the bookstore marquee at the Pittsburgh International Airport.
An enthusiastic storyteller, Eliza has given lectures and tours for organizations such as the Smithsonian, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Frick Art & Historical Center, the Chicago Architecture Foundation, Carnegie Mellon University, and The Colonial Dames. In 2019-2021, she chaired a city-wide initiative on behalf of the mayor’s office to celebrate the Suffrage Centennial.
After three decades working in historic preservation and architecture, Eliza worked for eleven years as director of communications and external relations for The Association of Theological Schools. She came to that world as an outsider but was quickly embraced as a trusted resource—as a writer, an editor, and a strategist—because of her ability to capture the essence of a narrative and articulate it in a concise and compelling way. “It is this role as a translator or interpreter that has stood me in good stead in sharing some of history’s great stories,” she has said. “I look critically at each narrative with a ‘so what?’ perspective—why should this interest anyone? What will make this story come alive for readers?” She is now back to the world of history, with her new book, She Devils at the Door, released by Carnegie Mellon University Press in Fall 2023.
Eliza is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College and studied historic preservation at Cornell University. Actively engaged with her community, she has served on numerous boards, among them the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Museum of Art, Neighborhood Academy, St. Edmund’s Academy, and Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Eliza has three adult children and lives in Pittsburgh with her muse, a rescue beagle named Knox.