June 2006 Newsletter
Status of Women Information
Dates to Remember
Marian de Forest Biography
Marian de Forest was born on 27 February 1864, in Buffalo, New York. She
was the daughter of Cyrus M. and Sarah Germain de Forest. Her father was a
prominent businessman and furniture manufacturer in Buffalo.
Ms. de Forest's schooling began with private tutoring because of an eye injury. With her extraordinary determination and persistence, she overcame this handicap, and developed a remarkable memory, since she spent three years in a darkened room, and was forced to memorize her lessons. She graduated from the Buffalo Seminary in the class of 1884, as the youngest graduate up to that date. Newspaper Career Ms. de Forest began her newspaper career as a reporter, one of the first women in this profession in western New York. She began with the Buffalo Evening News, and then went to the Buffalo Commercial. Shortly after, she became executive secretary of the Board of Women Managers - Women's Pavilion of the Pan-American Exposition, held in Buffalo in 1901.
Following the exposition, Ms. de Forest joined the staff of the Buffalo Express, and served as editor of the Women's Department and dramatic editor for the next 22 years. It was through her work as a drama critic that Ms. de Forest became well acquainted with theatrical celebrities who visited Buffalo. It was also during this time that Ms. de Forest earned national and international fame as a writer and, encouraged by Minnie Maddem Fiske, as a playwright.
Marian de Forest, Playwright
In 1911, Ms. de Forest wrote her first serious play, "Little Women," a dramatization of Louisa M. Alcott's famous novel, "Little Women." It was performed for the first time in the Teck Theater in January 1912 - an immediate success - and opened in New York at the Playhouse in October 1912. On 10 November 1919, the play opened at the New Theater in London, with Katherine Cornell starring. Ms. de Forest traveled with the company to New York, London, and Paris, not only as author, but also as publisher, and director. "Little Women" opened again in New York in 1931, and in Buffalo by at least four professional companies, and continues playing today.
Other Cultural Contributions
As the first significant playwright in Buffalo, Ms. de Forest encouraged women to take a prominent role in the theater. She provided western New York with some of the best dramatic and musical offerings of her time. This included not only the opening nights and long runs of her own popular plays, but the performances of her colleagues and friends: Victor Herbert, Serge Koussivitsky, Ossip Gabrilowitsch, Sarah Bernhardt, and Katherine Cornell, to name a few.
In 1924, Ms. de Forest left the Buffalo Express to establish and become manager and executive secretary of the Buffalo Musical Foundation, Inc., where she played a major role in bringing great symphony orchestras and other musical talent to Buffalo. In this role, she worked closely with the School Department of Buffalo to arrange and promote a symphony concert series that provided over 3,000 children annually with the opportunity to hear the great orchestras of Boston, Cleveland, Detroit, and other cities. She once described one of her greatest ambitions "the development among children of an appreciation of good music and plays."
In 1932, she promoted the first Pop Concert that gave work to unemployed musicians. and during the early 1930s she played a major role in the formation of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, introducing to Buffalo some of the most prominent artists of the day.
As the world views this extraordinary woman through the lens of history, her accomplishments are even more significant today. Despite her driving commitment as a journalist, playwright, and cultural leader, Ms. de Forest was always the personification of civic dedication and volunteerism, and was recognized as such in the news media. She served as a member of the board of directors of the Buffalo Public Library, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), and the Humane Society.
Ms. de Forest was also a member of the Buffalo Seminary Graduates Association, and belonged to the Lyceum Club of London (an exclusive writers' society), the Authors League of America, the Scribblers (a Buffalo women writers' organization), the Dramatists' Club, the Buffalo Athletic Club, and the Town Club, and she was an honorary member of the Twentieth Century Club of Buffalo. She was listed in the Notable Women in American Theater and Who's Who in America.
Founder of Zonta International
While working in a prominent role at the Buffalo Express, during a time when women were rarely in leadership positions, Ms. de Forest conceived the idea of an organization that would bring together women in executive positions. She envisioned a strong network that would help women reach their rightful place in the professions. She understood how important it was to break through the "glass ceiling" long before the term was ever used.
On 8 November 1919, Ms. de Forest gathered a group of like-minded women who held prominent roles in the professional world at the Hotel Statler in Buffalo to form the Zonta Club of Buffalo. Zonta was founded as, and continues to be, a service organization of executive women working to improve the legal, political, economic and professional status of women worldwide.
The group chose the name, Zonta, which comes from a Lakota Sioux Indian word that means "honest and trustworthy." In one of her early speeches Ms. de Forest explained, "Zonta stands for the highest standards in the business and professional world ... seeks cooperation rather than competition and considers the Golden Rule not only good ethics but good business." She envisioned Zonta stretching across the country and beyond. In her own words, "This is the woman's age and in distant lands and foreign climes women of all nations are rallying to the call...Zonta is given the opportunity of uniting them into one great, glorious whole."
Ms. de Forest became president of the Zonta Club of Buffalo, and shortly after, formed and became second president of the Confederation of Zonta Clubs, comprised of nine founding clubs - Buffalo, Rochester, Binghamton, Elmira, Syracuse, Erie, Utica, Ithaca, and Detroit. The Confederation later became Zonta International with the incorporation of Toronto in 1927. During the first 15 years of Zontas existence, Ms. de Forest, as founder and leader with her remarkable vitality and power of persuasion, saw Zonta grow from nine to 124 clubs that were established in the United States, Canada, and Europe. Since then, Zonta International has grown to 1,200 clubs in 69 countries, with 33,000 members worldwide.
Woman of Peace
An excerpt from a radio address by Ms. de Forest on the occasion of Zonta's 15th Anniversary exemplifies her spirit and charisma, "Far reaching is our plan to assemble in Zonta International the women executives of the world, an army of experts who through friendship, understanding, cooperation and goodwill, will become an irresistible force of peace." Her contributions through Zonta International have made an impact in women's lives worldwide:
Achieving for Zonta the distinction of being the first woman's service
organization to work in partnership with the United Nations since its
inception in 1945. Obtaining status in the United Nations as a
Non-Governmental Organization with representatives in New York, Paris,
Geneva and Vienna. Securing consultative status with the United Nations
Economic and Social Council, the United Nations Children's Fund, the United
Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the
International Labour Organization, and the Council of Europe. Contributing
millions of US dollars to projects focused on women's health, leadership
training, and educational and economic development projects in more than 20
countries, often in partnership with United Nations agencies.
Providing more than US$5.2 million for over 1,000 Amelia Earhart Fellowships to outstanding women representing 56 countries. Amelia Earhart, a member of the National Women's Hall of Fame, was an active Zontian when her plane disappeared. Addressing issues of violence against women and children through the Zonta International Summit On Violence Against Women in 1995, and later the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995, and the development of grass root action plans directed at the local and regional level.
Recognizing leadership potential and commitment to volunteerism through the Young Women in Public Affairs Awards, established in 1990, to encourage women's leadership and careers in public policy, government, and volunteer organizations.
Establishing advocacy-support networking and volunteerism among young women through Golden Z Clubs on college campuses and Z Clubs in high schools.
At age 70, Ms. de Forest died on 17 February 1935, following a long, cancer-related illness. In 1998, Ms. de Forest was inducted into the Western New York Women's Hall of Fame. Her nomination was the result of extensive research by members of the Zonta Club of Buffalo. Much of this information was documented in the Zonta archives located at the State University of New York at Buffalo.
Throughout her life, Marian de Forest served as a role model for working
women. Her impact is still apparent today. She was, indeed, a remarkable
woman, a woman among women who inspired, led and made the impossible
"If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it."
- Margaret Fuller
January 20, 2007
Support your club projects!
PEP stands for Personal
This month's question is:
|June 6th 5:30pm||Board Meeting||Tuesday - Caspian Cafe, 4375 Sinton Road|
|June 20th 5:30pm||General Meeting||Tuesday - Margarita's Restaurant|
|June 24-29, 2006||ZI Convention||Melbourne, Australia|
|July 18th 5:30pm||General Meeting||Tuesday - Location TBA|
|January 20, 2007||First Annual Glass Slipper Ball!||Sheraton|
Please send comments and suggested information for the newsletter to firstname.lastname@example.org.