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Zonta International, Club of Buffalo records

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MS-0056-0002

Scope and Contents

This collection documents the activities of the Buffalo chapter of Zonta International, a professional women's executive club. The records consist mainly of minutes, committee reports, financial and membership records, correspondence, photographs, and memorabilia.
The significant documents in the collection are the Buffalo club's board meeting and general meeting minutes start from 1931-2005 along with information on District and International conferences, and as well as information on Marian de Forest that the Buffalo club collected for her induction into the National Women's Hall of Fame and Western New York Women's Hall of Fame.
The collection contains information on the Buffalo club's activities, local service projects and scholarship funds as well as their international involvement with United Nations agencies.
Materials in the collection are mainly textual, including correspondence, newspaper and magazine clippings. Photographs, trophies, and audio materials are included in the collection.


  • 1930-2023


Language of Materials

Collection material in English.

Terms of Access

Zonta International, Club of Buffalo records, 1930-2023 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, the Detroit, Michigan and Erie, Pennsylvania clubs joined the New York clubs, (Binghamton, Rochester, Elmira, Syracuse, Ithaca, Utica), 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.


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.


25.50 Linear Feet (46 manuscript boxes; 3 half manuscript boxes; 1 record carton; 1 flat box; 1 single roll storage box; 1 map case drawer)


The records of Zonta International, Club of Buffalo, a professional women's executive club, consist primarily of records documenting organizational activities.


This collection is arranged in five series: I. Administrative files; II. Committees' reports; III. Conferences; IV. Events and programs; V. President notebooks; VI. Administrative files, 2015-2016; VII. Administrative files, 2017-2023.
Most of the records are arranged by Zonta operation year, which begins in June and ends the following May.
Born-digital materials are integrated into their corresponding series based on content. The original order of the files is retained.

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.

Additional administrative materials (2019-2021) received in the University Archives from Dorothy Wiswall, August 31, 2021 as accession #2021-015.

Additional administrative materials (2021-2022) received in the University Archives from Dorothy Wiswall, October 11, 2022 as accession #2022-052.

Additional administrative materials (2022-2023) received in the University Archives from Dorothy Wiswall, August 16, 2023 as accession #2023-031.

Accruals and Additions

Further accruals are expected to the collection annually.

Related Resources

MS 56, Zonta International collections
MS 56.1, Zonta International Historical records, 1919-1930
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, August 2008.
Finding aid encoded by Danielle White, February 2015.

Additional material added and finding aid updated by Sarah Pinard, August 2018.

Additional material added and finding aid updated by Jessica Hollister, September 2022.

Additional material added and finding aid updated by Jessica Hollister, October 2022.

Additional material added and finding aid updated by Jessica Hollister and Grace Trimper, August 2023.

Digital files created by Zonta Club Buffalo were transferred to the University Archives on compact disks. Where possible, digital content saved on storage media was migrated from the storage media, normalized to standard preservation and access formats, and transferred to a stable preservation environment following the University Libraries' Digital Preservation guidelines. Some folder titles were altered and file arrangement reorganized to assist researchers in locating and identifying digital content. File names were altered to include the collection name at the beginning of the original file name. For a list of original file names, refer to the file manifests of each folder.


Finding Aid for the Zonta International, Club of Buffalo 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

Revision Statements

  • March 2011; February 2015: A small amount of new materials (donated after the collection was originally processed) were incorporated into the collection and the finding aid was updated; finding aid migrated to ArchivesSpace by Danielle White (respectively).
  • October 2016: Additional material added (accession 2016-017) and finding aid updated by Sarah Pinard, October 2016.
  • August 2018: Additional material added (accession 2018-012) and finding aid updated by Sarah Pinard, August 2018.
  • September 2021: Additional material added (accession 2021-015) and finding aid updated by Jessica Hollister, September 2021.
  • October 2022: Additional material added (accession 2022-052) and finding aid updated by Jessica Hollister, October 2022.

Repository Details

Part of the University Archives Repository

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