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Zonta International Historical records

 Collection — Box: 1, MC 4.12
Identifier: MS-0056-0001

Scope and Contents

This collection is called historical and separated from the other years of the Buffalo Club since Zonta started from Buffalo Club in 1919, and documents organizational records of the Confederation of Zonta, Buffalo Club from 1920 to 1930.

The significant documents in the collection are the Quota Club Charter and lists of signatures, Director's meeting minutes, and manuals and instructions, along with information on District and International conferences. Materials in the collection are only in textual formats.


  • 1919-1944


Language of Materials

Collection material in English.

Terms of Access

Zonta International Historical records, 1919-1944, 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

The Quota Club was founded in January 1919 in Buffalo, New York. Its membership was based on invitations only to the best women in their professions. Even though the classifications of membership were restricted by its categorization, it was hard to draw distinctions between classifications, so the Club started to admit members by cross categorizing. As result, new positions were regularly created for incoming members.

One of the members, Marian de Forest, strongly believed that the club should represent quality, not quantity. De Forest and five other businesswomen withdrew from the Quota Club and founded the Zonta Club. They established the system of only one representative for each class on the new club; there would be no paid organizers who received commission fees for new members. Each member of Zonta had to devote their time and attention to women's advancement in society.

Within a month, the officers of nine clubs, including Detroit, Michigan, and Erie, Pennsylvania, clubs which had joined the New York clubs (Buffalo, Rochester, Binghamton, Elmira, Syracuse, Ithaca, Utica), formed a new confederation at the Hotel Statler, Buffalo, New York, in November 1919. The first president of the Confederation was Mary Jenkins, a publisher of the Syracuse Herald.

In May 20-21, 1921, the first annual convention was held in Syracuse, New York. In 1923, New York City and Los Angeles chapters joined the Confederation of Zonta Clubs, bringing the total to 22 clubs in the United States. Zonta became international after the participation of Toronto, Hamilton, and St. Catherines, Ontario clubs in 1927. In 1930, new clubs in Hamburg, Germany, Vienna, Austria, and Sidney, Australia, joined the Confederation. That same year, the organization changed its name to Zonta International and elected Helen W. Cleveland as its first president.


The Zonta Club was founded in Buffalo, New York.
The Confederation of Zonta Clubs was established; Mary Jenkins elected first president.
Zonta became incorporated.
Zonta's 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 Larking 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.


3.75 Linear Feet (1 manuscript box, 1 map case drawer)


The historical records of Zonta International, a professional women's executive club, document the organization's activities between 1919 and 1944.


This collection is arranged in five series: I. General files, II. Meeting agenda and minutes, III. Manuals and instructions, IV. Conferences, and V. Photographs.

Acquisition Information

A memorandum of understanding dated May 2, 1999 was signed by Barbara Fera, District IV Governor. Since that time the University Archives has received new accessions to the collection periodically.

Accruals and Additions

New additions to this collection are received once per year.

Related Resources

MS 56, Zonta International collections
MS 56.2, Zonta International, Club of Buffalo records, 1930-2008
MS 56.3, Zonta International, scrapbooks
MS 56.4, Zonta International, District IV records
MS 56.5, Zonta International publications, 1917-2007
Zonta International Headquarters, 1211 West 22nd Street, Suite 900 Oak Brook, IL 60523

Processing Information

Processed by Kuniko Simon, July 2008.

Finding Aid for the Zonta International Historical records
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)