November 27, 2023 • By Brian Hayden
Did you know the first Congressional representative to introduce equal pay legislation was a Buffalonian?
This #GivingTuesday we’re sharing the story of a Buffalo trailblazer – Winfred C. Stanley.
Image from the personal collection of Winifred Stanley’s niece.
In 1944, Miss Winifred Stanley advocated for equal pay for equal work. As a lawyer, she recognized the value of women’s work, and appreciated their unprecedented ability to mobilize to support the United States war effort. Winifred knew women’s roles were changing and saw the need to protect the strides being made. When introducing the legislation, she commented:
“It has often been remarked that this is a ‘man’s world.’ The war and its far-reaching effects have provided the answer. “It’s ‘our world,’ and this battered old universe needs and will need the best brains and ability of both men and women.”
Campaign Poster featuring Winifred Stanley in our History Makers II exhibit.
You can experience a piece of Winifred’s incredible story in our History Makers II exhibit, where you’ll see a 1942 campaign poster featuring “Representative at Large Winifred C. Stanley” on display. Our exhibits and programs are built on stories of Buffalonians experiencing the ordinary and the extraordinary. When you support The Buffalo History Museum, you bring to life the moments that shape our region’s history, and you become woven into our story.
Winifred was a pioneer whose resilience was remarkable. As one of the only female congressional representatives, she constantly faced discrimination due to her sex. Her equal pay legislation was not passed during her tenure in Congress but is widely thought to have inspired the Equal Pay Act of 1963.
Winifred continued to forge ahead after her term in Congress. She returned to her legal profession, working as counsel for the New York State Employees’ Retirement System and eventually became a New York State assistant attorney general. According to her niece Susan, when Winifred saw injustice, “she went out and did something about it.”
Many stories, like Winifred’s, become forgotten over time. Remnants of each story await your discovery in every artifact The Buffalo History Museum collects. Your support ensures our stories are preserved for future generations to discover.