Veteran Feminists of America


The National Women's Hall of Fame at Seneca Falls, New York, to which outstanding women of achievement are added every year, originated at the 1965 World's Fair in New York. It was created by feminist Charlotte Klein, to solve a problem for a public relations client and to make a major statement about equality for women.

Left: Margaret Bourke White and Helen Hayes, exchanging autographs

The Purex Corporation had sponsored a Women's Hospitality Center at the Fair that failed to draw traffic.The PR agency at which Charlotte was Executive Vice President was asked to develop a plan that would create national attention and be a dynamic draw for women to that Center. A Hall of Fame had opened in 1901 at an NYU site and had never had a woman nominated to it. Charlotte thought "why not establish a Hall of Fame just for women?" Purex agreed. She arranged for a Nominating Committee, with the cooperation of the Fair's Women's Advisory Council, which included Margaret Truman Daniel. A list of 100 names of outstanding women of the 20th Century (to 1965) was developed. Women's Page Editors of news papers nationwide,women broadcasters, and editors of women's magazines were the electorate and the 10 living and 10 deceased who had the most votes would comprise the women's Hall of Fame. All living nominees were sent a consent form and asked for a copy of their preferred photograph.

More than 50% of the electorate returned ballots, electing: (deceased) Eleanor Roosevelt, Jane Addams, Amelia Earhart, Edna St.Vincent Millay, Babe Didrikson Zaharias, Grandma Moses, Rachel Carson, Ethel Barrymore, Dr.Florence Sabin and Evangeline Booth (living) Helen Keller, Pearl Buck, Marian Anderson, Helen Hayes, Margaret Bourke White, Senator Margaret Chase Smith, Margaret Mead, Margaret Sanger, Dr.Frances O.Kelsey and Edna Ferber (all now are deceased, except for Kelsey who had achieved fame as the government public health official who banned the thalidamide drug that had caused infant deformities.)

The Hall of Fame portrait gallery was mounted in the Center. World's Fair President Robert Moses dedicated the Hall. The reception that followed was under the direction of the Purex President who presented each living Hall of Famer with a gold vermeil bud vase with a Royal Porcelain flower from Tiffany designed by Charlotte. More than 200 influential guests, the press and six of the ten living electees attended.Helen Keller, was ill and had actress Katherine Cornell represent her.

Left to Right:
Margaret Truman Daniel,
Helen Hayes,
Frances O. Kelsey,
William Tincher (Sr. V.P Purex Corp),
Margaret Bourke-White,
Katherine Cornell and
Margaret Mead

All TV and radio networks and local New York stations covered the event, as well as AP and UPI.37 major newspapers carried the story on their front page,with photos (many in color). Several ran editorials. All newspapers in the top ten primary markets and 85% of the next 30 primary trade areas printed the story. Traffic to the Center increased by 400%. Charlotte supervised the entire promotion and press campaign. In 1969, she gave the women's Hall of Fame to the Seneca Falls Historic Preserve, where they added key suffragettes of the 19th Century. The Women's Hall of Fame of 1965 was a forerunner of and a catalyst for the new Feminist Revolution.

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