The greatness of the fabric of Western New York is the result of the men and women who have resided here. Although women have contributed significantly to this fabric, most of their accomplishments are unknown. This list documents the achievements of 100 women of the past who have contributed in a profound way to our community. These women, now deceased, lived for some time in one of the eight counties of Western New York (Erie, Niagara, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany, Wyoming, Orleans and Genesee). They were selected from nominations submitted by the community. The women are honored in the Women’s Walkway with individual commemorative granite stones.
In celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Pan American Exposition, the Women’s Pavilion Pan Am 2001 and Working For Downtown collaboratively created a Women’s Walkway to honor women of the past and present. The Women’s Walkway is a legacy project of the Women’s Pavilion. It is part of Bricks For Buffalo, a project led by Working For Downtown.
Bricks For Buffalo, which includes the Women’s Walkway and a Plaza Walkway, is a personalized cobblestone area located at the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority’s DL&W Terminal site adjacent to HSBC Arena on Downtown Buffalo’s Waterfront.
The brief descriptions that follow summarize the nominations by the community. We apologize for the exclusion of significant women and any errors that may follow.
Cornelia Hopkins Allen, 1896-1978
Executive director of Cradle Beach Camp who integrated handicapped and non-handicapped children in to the same residential program.
Lucille Ball, 1911-1989
Entertainer who starred in over 500 television episodes and 79 movies; powerful figure in the entertainment industry who formed her own production company.
Clara Barton, 1821-1912
Worked as volunteer caring for wounded soldiers during Civil War; opened hospitals in Europe during Franco-Prussian war, in 1881 founded the Red Cross in Dansville.
Jessie Tarbox Beals, 1870-1942
First woman to succeed in daily newspaper photography, first woman to receive permit to take pictures at the St. Louis World Fair.
Louise Blanchard Bethune 1856-1913
First woman to be license as architect in United States, practiced in Buffalo for 33 years, designed Lafayette Hotel and Lockport High School.
Sr. Edwina Bogel, FSSJ, 1907-1990
Franciscan Sister of St, Joseph; began Hilbert College for women interested in joining the order and teaching throughout the United States.
Katherine Eaton Bradley, 1859-1934
Active in women’s suffrage activities, wrote historical books on Olean and Civil War recollections of her husband.
Anne P. Brody, 1927-2000
Established International Committee at the University at Buffalo to assist international students, faculty and their families adjust to American culture, active in Amherst Senior Center.
Ruby Butts, 1905-2000
Successful business woman who operated health and beauty shop; president of Buffalo chapter of National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs; founder of Sojourner Truth Club for local women.
Janet Taylor Caldwell, 1900-1985
Highly popular novelist known for family sagas and historical fiction, which have sold over 30 million copies.
Sr. Angela Canavan, OSF, 1910-1996
Sister of St Francis who as second president of Daeman College for 20 years engineered innovated programs leading to its growth.
Irene Crane, 1863-1956
Immigrant entrepreneur who operated a general store in North Tonawanda while raising a family.
Grace W. Capen, 1874-1951
First honorary President of the University at Buffalo Women’s Club; led World War II war bond and European relief efforts; established Student Loan Fund.
Mabel Carmer-Hill, MD, 1905-1998
Physician who cared for sick and wounded in England during World War II; as country doctor in Newfane, delivered over 3,000 babies; founder and chief of staff for Inter-Community Medical Hospital.
Bridget Gaffney-Carroll, 1880-1946
Proud Irish immigrant who overcame prejudices to foster appreciation of Gaelic culture in Buffalo, founder and president of the Buffalo Irish Foundation.
Evelyn Rumsey Cary, 1855-1924
Artist who designed the “Spirit of Niagara” poster for the Pan American Exposition; president of Buffalo Society of Artists; director of Erie County SPCA.
Mary L. Catalano, MD, 1907-1997
Physician who practiced for 40 years in Buffalo, delivering over 2,000 babies, often in people’s homes.
Ouida Clapp, 1924-2000
Textbook author who integrated black and third world characters into reading books; longtime English teacher and administrator in Buffalo School District.
Lydia Avery Coonley-Ward, 1845-1925
Human rights advocate and avid patron of the arts in Wyoming County; brought artists and abolitionists to rural area, founder of Village Library and Village Hall.
Katherin Cornell, 1893-1974
Actress and Stage producer; “First Lady of Theatre” who traveled internationally with stage shows; first woman to receive University at Buffalo’s Chancellors Medal.
Virginia L. Cummings, Ed.D, 1920-1996
Anthropologist who worked at Buffalo Museum of Science for 51 years becoming its first female director; champion of women’s causes and organizations; first woman to serve on many community boards.
Mary Jane McLean Cunningham, 1930-1984
Founder of first female owned and operated telephone answering and business assistance company in WNY; formed utility location system to protect construction workers; active in Varity Club Tent #7 and other organizations.
Annie Damer, 1858-1915
President of Buffalo Nurses’ Association and Associated Alumnae of Nursing Schools; worked for improvement in education and state registration of nurses and women’s right to vote.
Annie Sturgis Daniel, MD, 1858-1944
Medical doctor for almost 60 years, often treating the poor; testified before NY State and Congressional committees to improve working conditions of the poor and treatment of women prisoners.
Daughters of Charity, Established 1848
Founded Sisters Hospital in 1848 the first hospital in Western New York and Providence Lunatic Asylum in 1860, the first institution for the mentally ill.
Marian DeForest, 1864-1935
Founder of Zonta International, first organization dedicated to worldwide improvement in status of women; first woman journalist and editor of department at Buffalo Express; co-founder of Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.
Mary DeMarchi, 1943-1999
Business woman and community volunteer; founder of Western New York Women’s Hall of Fame luncheon.
Carmen M. Delvalle, 1949-1995
Co-founder of family therapy that focuses on culture and experience of trainees and clients; founder and president of Hispanic Women’s League and co-founder of Hispanic Health and Human Services Network.
Dolores Denman, 1930-2000
First female presiding justice in New York State as presiding justice of State Appellate Division, 4thJudicial Department.
Evelyn Didas, 1910-1995
First director of school libraries for Buffalo Public Schools and founder of Buffalo Scholl Librarians Association; guided expansion of school libraries and programs.
Gladys K. Drewelow, 1914-1995
First female director of communications in Erie County; founder and president of several republican women’s and other groups; served on several state and local organizations; received many professional and community service awards.
Marie Stagg Engle, 1898-2000
Professional soprano who entertained hospital patients; volunteered at Erie County Medical Center for 65 years; founder and manager of hospitals coffee shop and instrumental in creation of its chapel.
Felician Sisters, Established 1881
Educated thousands of immigrant children; staffed and administered education programs at Immaculate Heart of Mary Home for Children orphanage from 1895 until 1982, in 1956 began Cantalician Center for Learning, first school for handicapped children.
Abigail Powers Fillmore, 1798-1853
Wife of President Millard Fillmore who established library at the White House, advocate of woman’s and human rights.
Alice Russell Glenny, 1858-1924
Created mural for New York State building at the Pan American Exposition; elected president of Buffalo Society of Artists seven times.
Anna Katherine Green, 1846-1935
One of the first female authors of detective novels, wrote 35 novels.
Cordelia A. Greene, MD, 1831-1905
First female doctor and manager of sanitarium in Castile; author of health books; proponent of free access to information, donating land and resources for town library.
Grey Nuns of the Cross, established 1857
Created Holy Angels Academy in 1861 and D’Youville College in 1908 to “train young women for higher efficiency in intellectual and social work”; provided service to the poor and women in the city jail.
Mother Leonarda Hannappel, OSF, 1851-1922
Sister of St Francis; founder and principal of Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart; superior and treasurer of North American mission; proponent of higher education for sisters; collected food, clothing and money for German war victims.
Martha Matilda Harper, 1857-1950
Started first retail franchise, Harper Hairdressing Parlor in Buffalo in 1891. First of 500 such shops in US, Canada & Europe; operated by former servants, the shops provided hair dressing, facials and scalp massage using natural products.
Catharine Harris, 1809-1907
“Free Woman of Color” of Jamestown, agent of Underground Railroad; helped chronicle history of Negro residents and abolitionist activist in Jamestown.
Sara Hinson, 1841-1926
Teacher, school principal, and school board member who started Flag Day in 1891 to instill proper respect for the flag in school children; Flag Day became an official holiday in 1916.
Katharine Pratt Horton, 1848-1931
Founder and president, for six terms of Buffalo City Federation of Daughters of the American Revolution for fifteen years; established scholarships at University of Buffalo.
Kathleen Howard, 1879-1956
Opera singer and actress, first Buffalo singer to perform with the Metropolitan Opera, starred in 43 films, two as a co-star with W.C. Fields.
Alice Moore Hubbard, 1861-1915
Teacher and business woman who helped manage the Utopian Craft Community known as the Roycroft Campus in East Aurora; woman’s rights author and lecturer.
Alfreda Locke Irwin, 1914-2000
Newspaper reporter and author, historian of Chautauqua Institute, founder of the Chautauqua Network, dedicated to fostering the Chautauqua concept.
Margaret M. Gill Jeffords, 1910-1978
First woman from New York to receive Bronze star for heroic efforts during World War II; nurse at Utah Beach on D-Day, landing and in field hospital during Battle of Bulge; treated victims of Dachau concentration camp.
Alice Mae Lee Jemison, 1901-1964
“White Woman of the Genesee”, captured as a child, later refused to return to white culture since she had more rights as a Native American; first while woman to own property in New York State.
Wanda Frey Joiner, 1882-1968
Founder of Quota International Club in 1918; dedicated to deaf and disadvantaged women and children; business leader and women’s advocate.
Jane Keeler, 1880-1974
Director of Studio Theatre from 1927 until 1959; taught make-up art to polio patients at Children’s Hospital.
Lucille M. Kinne, 1906-1987
Advocate for elderly and women; initiated senior citizen’s program in Amherst and senior centers in Buffalo; president of NYS Business and Professional Women.
Catherine “Kit” Klein, 1910-1985
Self-taught speed skating champion who’s performance made Women’s Speed Skating an Olympic sport; won first women’s overall world championship in speed skating in 1936 and 1500 meter even at 1936 Olympics.
Charlotte Louise Kreinheder, 1879-1969
During World War I worked as YMCA Canteen Girl in France and Germany, assisting the American Expeditionary force.
Maggie Kuhn, 1905-1995
Founder and national convener of Gray Panthers, organization opposed to age discrimination; author or Get Out There and Do Something.
Elizabeth J. Letson, 1874-1919
Established research library at Buffalo Museum of Science; named director of museum in 1900; procured Pan American Exposition materials for museum’s collections.
Belva Bennett Lockwood, 1830-1917
First woman to practice law before United States Supreme Court; nominated by the National Equal Rights party for US President in 1884 and 1888.
Mary R. Lombardo, 1926-2000
Educator, school principal, trustee to Buffalo Council of Supervisory and Administrators; preservationist and supporter of the arts.
Maria Maltby Love, 1840-1931
Founder if Fitch Creche one of the first nurseries for children of working mothers; humanitarianism interested in urban problems, especially poverty.
Sarah Lovejoy, 1771-1813
Only woman killed in defense of Buffalo in the War of 1812.
Mabel Dodge Luhan, 1879-1962
Author and one of the most important patrons of the arts in the 20th century; supported Leo and Gertrude Stein, Georgia O’Keeffe, D.H. Lawrence.
Cora P. Maloney, 1911-1961
Pharmacist; director of E.J. Meyer Memorial Blood Bank; first woman of color elected to Buffalo Common Council in 1957 and second person of color to occupy legislative seat; active in politics, business and nonprofit organizations.
Nancy Marchand, 1928-2000
Stage, film and four-time, Emmy winning television star; inducted into the Western New York Entertainment Hall of Fame.
Julia W. Marks, 1936-1999
Founding member of Homespace Corporation, transitional living environment for young, single parent families.
Elizabeth Coe Marshall, 1847-1892
Sunday school teacher and humanitarian; her efforts to provide free nursing care for poor sick people led to development of Buffalo Visiting Nursing Association in 1920.
Bea Massman, 1912-1992
Early leader in developing high school sports for girls in the 1950’s national badminton champion; inducted into Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame.
Margaret E. Mead, 1932-1999
Accomplished artist, honored by New York State Assembly and Erie County Legislature and Allentown Art Festival Foundation for accomplishments and service; author of two popcorn recipe publications.
Ellen Yates Miller, 1882-1940
In 1919, was first woman in New York to be elected County Clerk; elected for eight consecutive terms until her death.
Carrie VanNess Moot, 1857-1946
Organized first Buffalo kindergarten in 1891; co-founder of the Elmwood School, president of Women’s Education and Industrial Union and 20th Century Club; director of the Buffalo Centennial 1932 and other national and local organizations.
Charlotte Mulligan, 1844-1900
Teacher and music editor of Buffalo Courier, founder of Twentieth Century Club in 1894, the oldest women’s club in the country still in existence.
Ernestine Nardin, DHM, 1822-1896
Founded Nardin Academy in 1851, private school for girls; offered evening classes for working girls and started a health care dispensary for the poor.
Marion de Mauriac North, 1912-1985
Leader, teacher and mentor to League of Women Voters, over 90 Leagues established during her state tenure, established financial foundation for Hobart-William Smith Colleges.
Callista M. O’Hare, 1906-1983
First woman engineer in New York State Department of Transportation; helped design New York State Thruway and Kensington Expressway while raising a family of nine.
Jeanette Pellman, 1892-1970
Founder of Republican Women’s Clubs of Eric County, for over 40 years worked locally and nationally for influence of women’s vote in all political parties; head of Larkin Soap Company test kitchens.
Sr. Hubert Pollard, SSJ, 1906-1988
Sister of St Joseph; spent over 40 years at St Mary’s School for the Deaf; promoted professional education and development for sisters.
Marion Otis Porter, 1876-1941
Founder of Erie County League of Women Voters; charter member of Buffalo Branch American Associate of University Women; donated property for parks, playgrounds and camp for Camp Fire Girls in 1941.
Margaret Evans Price, 1888-1973
Author of children’s books; contributed greatly to start up of Fisher-Price Toys; historical preservationist who saved Millar Fillmore’s honeymoon cottage in East Aurora which is now a national historic site.
Lillian Craig Randall, 1856-1936
Established Riverside Hospital in 1892 which later became Lafayette Hospital.
Mary Jane Rathbun, 1860-1943
Prominent marine zoologist; organized and catalogued marine collections of National Museum in Washington, D.C>; spent 53 years at Smithsonian Institute’s division of marine invertebrates.
Julia Boyer Reinstein, 1907-1998
Historian and philanthropist; first and only historian for Cheektowaga from 1953-1992; advocated regional and local history, co-founder of Erie County Historical Federation.
Janet W. Rich, 1914-1998
Co-founder of Wilber Farms Dairy, predecessor to Rich Products; served as its vice president and board member for 51 years, founder of company’s day care center and International Prayer Group.
Cornelia Bentley Sage, 1880-1936
Appointed director of Albright Art Gallery in 1910 at age 26, president of Buffalo Art Society, director of the California Place of Legion of Honor.
Mary Alice Saville, 1926-1996
Volunteer for Beaver Meadow Nature Center for 29 years, developed nature trails for Orchard Park schools; taught visually impaired students to ski.
Clara Schlegel, 1870-1931
Roycroft artisan, author and avid supporter of women’s suffrage; used the “yellow rose” as a symbol of the movement n her paintings on china.
Edna T. Seay, 1919-1992
Charter member and first president of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Gamma Phi Omega Chapter, national president of Jack and Jill of America; devoted to positive development of African Woman and youth.
Sisters of Mercy, established 1858
Founded and staffed Mercy Hospital, Kenmore Mercy Hospital, and St. Jerome Hospital in Batavia; instituted training for health care technicians operated elementary schools, founded Trocaire College in 1958.
Sisters of St Mary of Namur, established 1863
In 1927, established Mount Saint Mary Convent and Academy in Kenmore for education of women; devoted to social work and teaching primary and secondary students.
St. Margaret Slachta, SSS, 1884-1974
Founder of Sisters of Social Service in Hungary, first women member of Hungarian Parliament, protested anti-Semitic laws; rescued over one thousand Jews by hiding them in convents; superior of Sisters in Buffalo in 1949.
Ida Smither, 1900-1994
Founder and first skipper of Women Associates of Buffalo Power Squadron in 1950; opened first Girl Scout office in Niagara Falls; set up Nautical knowledge program for Girl Scout Mariners; state senior judge for garden shows.
Leontina Weissbrem Stern, 1909-2000
Co-founder of Clarence Counseling Center, Clarence Women’s Club, Clarence Co-operative Nursery School and Clarence Concert Association; honored for civic activities by New York State Senate in 1998.
Pauline Stitt, 1909-1996
Pioneer in field of pediatrics and public health despite being a victim of polio which left her paralyzed; medical school teacher and chief of Child Health Studies of Research Division of US Children’s branch of Health Bureau.
Kate Stoneman, 1841-1925
Self educated in field of law; instrumental in admittance of women to Bar Association; first woman admitted in 1886; Normal School teacher for 40 years.
Louise Stanton Swindells, 1903-2000
Teacher and community volunteer; water color artist and author of sewing book.
Mary Burnett Talbert, 1866-1923
Known internationally for supporting African-American advancement and civil rights; 20 year president of Christian Culture Congress; president of National Association of Colored Women and Vice President of NAACP.
Annie Edson Taylor, 1838-1921
First person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel and survive.
Mildred Ellis Tidwell, 1927-1993
As volunteer with Community Action Organization, started first “free bread”
project that grew into national program to help low income families.
Harriet Austin Townsend, 1839-1916
Leading force for women’s rights, organizer and president of Buffalo Women’s Education and Industrial Union, that worked to better lives of poor women.
Margaret L. Wendt, 1885-1972
Outstanding Western New York philanthropist started Foundation in 1956 promoting major support for regions cultural, educational and charitable institutions.
Iren Taylor Wettlaufer, 1875-1966
Girl Scout Commissioner and Honorary Commissioner in 1932; donated land for Camp Severn Hills and Peace House; heritage society created in her honor.
Alice Williams, 1880-1968
First executive director for 31 years, of former Community Chest of Buffalo and Erie County, forerunner of the Buffalo and Erie County United Way.
Elizabeth Sprague Williams, 1869-1922
Active in social settlement movement; established library and children’s classes in Buffalo; strong advocate for expanding educational facilities for immigrants.
Martha Tenny Williams, 1848-1919
Founder of Children’s Hospital in 1890’s, bequest society created as her legacy.