Did you know that Kate Gleason was the first woman to enter Cornell’s Sibley College of Engineering? Learn more on Friday, Nov. 20 from 11:30-1:30 at the Kate Gleason College of Engineering. Stop by the 2nd floor atrium for cupcakes, trivia, and stickers! View a portable version of the exhibition to learn about Kate Gleason, visionary!
On Friday, Nov. 20 from 11:30-1:30 join the exhibition team and WE@RIT for Kate Gleason Trivia. Test your knowledge of Kate’s life and legacy. Free pizza & cupcakes!
The purse and the $20 bank note, also reproduced in the exhibition, belonged to Anna Howard Shaw. The pouch contained the note when it was given to Kate’s sister, Eleanor Gleason. It is not known if Kate owned such a pouch, but as a suffragist, it is likely that she did own similar items.
Courtesy: Special Collections, Lavery Library, St. John Fisher College, Rochester, NY
In 1915, Kate’s professional pursuits shifted from machine tooling to trailer manufacturing. As an associate of Rochester Trailer Car Company (later, Northway Trailer), Kate worked with George Hiller to accumulate patents for draft-bars and draft-gears that would enable the cars to carry 1200 pounds and to travel at speeds up to 30 mph. Technically advanced, the trailer became, for Kate, a canvas for enhancement in other areas, too, as noted by her design of a “Hi-Speed Trailercar” — a camper that was “a practical and luxurious movable hotel on wheels” giving the comforts of home. By 1921, interest in the Hi-Speed Trailer car corporation had waned; Gleason sold the property to Crosman Brothers Seed Company.
Courtesy: East Rochester Department of Local History
This tea set was used by Kate Gleason while she lived abroad at Septmonts (France) and was brought back to the US when Kate’s sister, Eleanor, settled her estate. In 1958, the set was given to the women’s residence hall at RIT when the dorm was located in the old Frontenac apartments in downtown Rochester. (The dorm came to be known as Kate Gleason Hall.) At the time of the move to the Henrietta campus, the tea set was given to the Women’s Club of RIT. It is now held in the RIT Archive Collections.
Kate Gleason grew up around her father’s machine shop, first located at Brown’s Race, and began working onsite from age eleven both out of familial duty and service to her father’s and mother’s aspirations. After learning of her elder half-brother’s death, Kate “walked down to the shop, mounted a stool and demanded work.” Her father gave her bookkeeping tasks and, from that time forward, Kate worked in the shop regularly. Over these years, she developed an interest in gearing and mechanical endeavors so much so that in 1884, she became the first woman to enroll in Cornell University’s Sibley College of Engineering and Mechanic Arts. There, she attended class in overalls and packed a worker’s lunch pail for her walk to Sibley Hall. Her tenure at Cornell was short lived as she was forced to drop out and return to Rochester, during the 1880s financial crisis, to work in the family business, where she had the opportunity to learn the machine tool business inside and out.
In 1910, the National Machine Tool Builders’ Association presented Kate and her father with a certificate of recognition for the hospitality extended by the Gleasons to members of the association when the convention was held in Rochester on May 24 and 25 of that year.
Courtesy: Gleason Corporation
Produced in six volumes from 1881-1922, History of Woman Suffrage documents the movement’s presence in the United States. Written by Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Ida Husted Harper, and others associated with the National Woman Suffrage Association, the volumes are both personal and public in their chronicling of the experiences of women. Gleason owned at least the first four volumes, two of which are inscribed to recall the affection and admiration among those involved in the movement. For instance, Harper recollects times spent together in sisterhood, “To Miss Kate Gleason, in memory of a beautiful Sunday at the Country Club in the autumn of 1903. Ida Husted Harper. Christmas, 1903.”
Produced in six volumes from 1881-1922, History of Woman Suffrage documents the movement’s presence in the United States. Written by Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Ida Husted Harper, and others associated with the National Woman Suffrage Association, the volumes are both personal and public in their chronicling of the experiences of women. Close to the suffrage movement, Gleason was a friend of Anthony who inscribed this volume by noting that Gleason, in 1903, was “the ideal business woman of whom I dreamed fifty years ago.”