The Twentieth Century Club of Buffalo, one of the first private clubs for women in the United States, was founded in 1894 “to advance the interests of education, literature and art.” Charlotte Mulligan, a teacher, writer, and musician from a well-to-do family was the driving force behind its creation. She envisioned a club rich in tradition, education, and culture, and the elegant Green & Wicks-designed Clubhouse, with characteristic symmetry and balance, is a testament to that vision. It is the oldest women’s clubhouse in the country and on the National Register of Historic Places.

20th Century Club

The Twentieth Century Club became noted for the many lavish social events held there, but education was, and still is, the primary focus of activity. Starting with an 1894 lecture on Abraham Lincoln, and continuing through the present, the Club has a long tradition of presenting prominent speakers and programs by recognized experts on a wide variety of subjects. From the 19th century, when women couldn’t vote and had limited opportunity, to today in the 21st century when possibilities seem limitless, the Twentieth Century Club has truly spanned its namesake century and connected those prior and succeeding. Its history parallels and chronicles not only the history of events in Buffalo, but also that of the enormous societal changes which have occurred in its lifespan.

Here are some neat items from the collection:

Mrs. William Phelps Northrup dressed as Queen Elizabeth I at the Twentieth Century Club of Buffalo’s Shakespearean revels. TCC members, spouses and guests came dressed as famous people in history and Shakespearean literary characters during the Elizabethan period in England at the club’s Shakespearean revel
Announcement for TCC members to familiarize themselves with a voting machine prior to its use in the New York State election of November 5, 1918. Women gained the right to vote in New York State elections in 1917. It was not until the Nineteenth Ammendment was ratified in August 1920 that women gained the right to vote in national elections.

Drawing of a portion of the elaborate architectural detail on the Twentieth Century Club of Buffalo’s clubhouse, designed by Green & Wicks

Check out the rest of the Twentieth Century Club Collection here


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About This Site is a research portal for students, educators, historians, genealogists, and others who are interested in learning more about the people, places and institutions of historical New York State. The site provides immediate free access to more than 160 distinct digital collections that reflect New York State's long history.