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Zonta International publications

 Collection — Box: 1-7
Identifier: MS-0056-0005

Scope and Contents

This collection contains publications of the both Zonta International and the Buffalo chapter of Zonta International. Early publications of "Zontafax" and "The Zontian" between 1920 and 1970 are bound; the others are unbound and stored separately in boxes.

The most significant documents in the collection, Zonta International Convention Reports, 1921-1964, include early information on the confederations of Zonta and names of representatives. Materials in the collection are in textual format only.


  • 1917-2010


Language of Materials

Collection material in English.

Terms of Access

Zonta International Publications, 1917-2010, are open for research.


Researchers must obtain the written permission of the holder(s) of copyright and the University Archives before publishing quotations from materials in the collection. Most papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures unless otherwise specified.

Historical Note

Playwright Marian de Forest and five other businesswomen founded the Zonta Club in Buffalo, New York, in 1919. Modeled after the men's executive club, Rotary, this women's executive club extended invitations only to the best women in their professions. Its focus was on networking and service.

In 1921, Detroit, Michigan and Erie, Pennsylvania clubs joined the New York clubs, (Binghamton, Rochester, Elmira, Syracuse, Ithaca, Utica), to found the Confederation of Zonta Clubs at the first convention in Syracuse. The first president of the Confederation was Mary Jenkins, a publisher of the Syracuse Herald. In 1930, the organization changed its name to Zonta International and elected Helen W. Cleveland as its first president.

During World War II, Zonta's service activities involved aiding their fellow Zontians through a War Service Fund, as well as cooperation with the Red Cross, sales of war stamps and bonds, and civil defense and first aid programs. In 1938, inspired by the death of Amelia Earhart, a member of the Zonta Club of Boston, Zonta established the Amelia Earhart Fellowship Awards for women pursuing advanced studies in aerospace-related science or engineering.

Zonta International has been engaging in women's development internationally and has taken an active part of assisting United Nations. Since 1959, Zonta has had consultative status with its agencies such as the International Labor Organization (ILO), United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), and the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF). Zonta also maintains representatives at United Nations sites in Geneva, New York, Paris and Vienna.

On the local level, the Zonta Club of Buffalo undertakes projects addressing issues such as women's economic self-sufficiency, legislative equality, aging, access to education, health and nutrition. The Buffalo club cooperates with other groups within the Buffalo community for fundraising activities, promoting career exploration and providing community services for youth. In the past, the Buffalo club had collaborated with Erie County Commission on the Status of Women, Girl Scout Leadership Training Program, State University New York at Buffalo, Woman's Action Coalition, and the YMCA.

Zonta International Convention

The first annual convention of the Confederation of Zonta Clubs was held in Syracuse, New York, on May 20-21, 1921, marking the confederation of the Binghamton, Buffalo, Detroit, Elmira, Erie, Ithaca, Lockport, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica, and Watertown clubs. At the meeting, a constitution was adopted and the first president of the confederation, Mary Jenkins, was elected. Since then, the members have met each summer in a place that is hosted by a local Zonta club.


The first monthly newsletter of the Zonta Club of Buffalo, the "Zonting Zebra," published beginning in October 1920, was a bulletin of the club's social and business activities. Between 1924 and 1928, no bulletins were issued. In 1928, the monthly newsletter came back to the club with new name, "Zontafax Buffalo Bulletin," and started to include not only social and business events but also a brief report from each of the club's committee, as well as messages from the president and vice president. The new name of the publication did last for long; it became the "Zontafax" in 1937. Since then, it has continued to be distributed to the Buffalo Club members monthly.

The Zontian

Zonta's first official publication, "The Zontian," was published under the Confederation of Zonta on June 1920. The confederated Zonta Clubs including New York clubs (Elmira, Utica, Syracuse, Binghamton, Ithaca, Rochester, Buffalo), Erie (Pennsylvania), Creed, and Detroit (Michigan) posted their club news and activities and communicated to members outside their region through the publication. Important information, such as lists of confederation officers, and confederation notes, were also included. Soon the contents of publication changed from specific to general, and organizational reports to narrative style articles, and the "Zontian" started to include messages from the president, articles on events, and stories from members. The publication was released monthly until 1959. From 1960 to 1970, its publication schedule changed into quarterly (Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring). From 1971 to 1996, the "Zontian" was again published monthly. Currently, the publication releases 8 issues on a biennial schedule.


The Zonta Club was founded in Buffalo, New York.
The Confederation of Zonta Clubs was established; Mary Jenkins elected first president.
Zonta became incorporated, and its base of operation moved to Harriet Richards' home in Utica, New York.
Serbia honored Zonta for its service to the education of young Serbian women.
Zonta acquires its business office in the Women's Council Building of the Larkin Company of Buffalo, New York
Zonta became international as clubs on Toronto, Hamilton, and St. Catherines, Ontario joined the confederation.
Zonta headquarters moved to Chicago, Illinois.
The name of the organization changed to Zonta International; Helen W. Cleveland elected first president.
Headquarters moved to the Buckingham Building in Chicago.
Amelia Earhart Scholarships for Women established.
295 Zonta clubs in 13 foreign countries with 10,848 members.
First international service project with United Nations agencies.
427 Zonta clubs in 24 foreign countries with 17,500 members.
Zonta International moved to offices on 35 East Wacker Drive, Chicago.
Received an award from UNICEF for outstanding contribution to the children.
Zonta International purchased a building for its headquarters, 557 West Randolph Street, Chicago.
Buffalo club hosted Diamond Jubilee Celebration at Statler Towers, Buffalo, New York.
1,200 Zonta clubs in 67 countries with 33,000 members.


7 Linear Feet (7 cartons)


Publications of Zonta International and its Buffalo Chapter including the Zontian (1920-2010) and Zontafax (1920-2010).


This collection is arranged in four series:

  1. Zontafax
  2. The Zontian
  3. Zonta International Convention Proceedings
  4. Other Publications

In the collection, publications are arranged by calendar year, even though the Zonta operation year starts in June and ends in May.

Acquisition Information

A memorandum of understanding dated August 7, 1991 was signed by Vivian Cody, Buffalo Club President. Since that time the University Archives has received new accessions to the collection periodically.

Accruals and Additions

Further accruals are transferred from Zonta Club of Buffalo annually.

Related Resources in the University Archives

MS 56, Zonta International Collections

  1. MS 56.1, Zonta International Historical Records, 1919-1930.
  2. MS 56.2, Zonta International, Club of Buffalo Records, 1930-2008
  3. MS 56.3, Zonta International, Scrapbooks
  4. MS 56.4, Zonta International, District IV Records

Related Online Resources

  1. Zonta International Headquarters, 1211 West 22nd Street, Suite 900 Oak Brook, IL 60523

Processing Information

Processed by Kuniko Simon, August 2008.

Additional materials donated after August 2008 were incorporated into the collection by Karen Morse in March 2011.


Finding Aid for the Zonta International publications
Finding aid prepared by Kuniko Simon.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the University Archives Repository

420 Capen Hall
Buffalo New York 14260-1674 US
716-645-3714 (Fax)