Discover the Stories of 7 Buffalo Women Who Made History

March 22, 2023 • By Rebecca Justinger

This year for Women’s History Month, we wanted to highlight some important Buffalonians that are prominently featured throughout our collections. Explore the stories of seven women who made history here, and find out more about them on your next visit to our Museum.

Mary Burnett Talbert (1866-1923) was a civil rights activist, educator, and WWI Red Cross nurse and was among the most prominent African American figures of her time. She was a tireless worker for human rights in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Mary is perhaps best remembered as a board member and Vice President of the NAACP, and for laying the foundations for the passage of the Dyer Anti-Lynch Bills while she was President of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs from 1916 to 1920. Mary Talbert’s portrait is on display on the second floor in Continuum, along with the Springarn Medal that the NAACP awarded her in 1922.


Elizabeth Dickinson (1837-1931) was a Buffalo businesswoman and the driving force behind the T&E Dickinson jewelry store. Along with her husband Thomas, a watch and clock repairer, they established their business in 1849. Originally located at 472 Main Street, this was the leading jewelry store in Buffalo, NY, and, at its height, one of the largest in the country. Dickinson’s portrait is in our collection.



Eva Bateman Noles (1919-2015) was the first African American nurse trained in Buffalo, NY. In 1936, she was accepted into the Buffalo City Hospital nursing program and graduated at the top of her class. She worked at E.J. Meyer Memorial, Sisters of Charity, and Columbus Hospitals. In 1945, she became the first African American nurse hired at today’s Rowell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and would retire as the Director of Nursing from Roswell Park. Eva Noles’ nursing uniform is currently on display in History Makers II, downstairs, off the Penfold Portico.


Evelyn Rumsey Cary (1855-1924) was the daughter of Bronson C. Rumsey, a founder of the Buffalo Arts Academy. She was an active member of the Buffalo artistic community and exhibited work with the Buffalo Society of Artists and the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy. Evelyn was a member of the Board of Women Managers for the Pan-American Exhibition, and, in 1898, she painted the “Spirit of Niagara”, which became the basis for the poster used to advertise the exhibition. In 1907, she created “Give her the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates”, one of the most prominent visuals used in the American suffrage movement. Evelyn’s suffrage poster is currently on display upstairs in Continuum.

Mary Elizabeth Lord (1811-1885) founded the Buffalo Organization for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in 1867—the second such institution in the nation. This would later become the Erie County SPCA. She was the daughter of Dr. Ebenezer Johnson, the first mayor of Buffalo and married Dr. John C. Lord, a lawyer turned minister. Inside the Museum’s library there is a stained-glass window with a rendering of Mary and her beloved dog, Grandfather Smallweed.

Hauenstein’s painting of the Old Chippewa Market.

Eugenie Hauenstein (1858-1940) was a local artist who studied at the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy and was a member of several art organizations throughout Buffalo. She was featured in the first Buffalo Society of Artists exhibit in 1891 and she was part of the American Watercolor Society of New York City. Eugenie donated her oil painting of the Old Chippewa Market to the Museum in the 1930s.

Julia Boyer Reinstein (1906-1988), historian and architectural preservationist, donated over 80 quilts and bed coverings to the Museum in 1987. Early in her life, Julia became fascinated with quilts and believed in the importance of documenting their histories. She received a bachelor’s degree in history from Elmira College for Women in 1928, writing her senior thesis on early American quilts. Julia and her husband were responsible for donating land and properties to create several libraries, including the Julia Boyer Reinstein library in Cheektowaga, and the Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve.



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