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Allegany County Women's History

Five photos of women from Allegany County Women's Collection

PLEASE NOTE, March 12, 2019:   
Some of these writings are over ten years old. Time marches on and new history is made as it pertains to many of the people and places referenced here. Revising and updating in this regard has proven difficult. Please keep that in mind as you read through these histories.   
Thank you, Albert Feldstein   

Albert L. Feldstein, a Western Maryland historian and author, was asked by the Cumberland Business and Professional Women's Club to make a presentation on local history for their March 20, 2007 meeting. After agreeing, he was told since March is Women's History Month they would like the topic to be "historic" Cumberland women. Figuring, incorrectly as he soon learned, there already had to be a list somewhere, "no problem", he said. Two weeks later he finally developed a list of over 40 women for the program, along with over a dozen of what he called "vignettes." Al has since added additional women, plus photographic depictions if readily available, and agreed to allow Western Maryland Regional Library to host his research online.   

Al explained:

Rather than having this be a one-time effort and forgotten about, I felt it might be of some future use or interest to various organizations. Perhaps it could be added to by the "locals", enhanced upon, updated, or even corrected; but at least maintained by someone with an interest in this information. Since my presentation originally took the form of a quiz the attached information on each woman is for the most part very brief so as to frame a short question. You will also note that we geographically expanded the boundary from Cumberland to Allegany County in general, Garrett County to the west a little, as well as directly across the river into adjacent Mineral County, West Virginia. There were specific women I wanted to include from these areas. I also, perhaps, stretched some linkages (Hanks, Shriver, Post, Garrett, and Dent) when they related to items or people of national significance or interest. Finally, some of this might be classified more as trivia than history, but we tried to incorporate "firsts", diversity to the extent possible, and interesting stuff. It should be kept in mind that this was originally, and still remains, a cursory overview of these women, or other subject matter portrayed. It is a starting point for others to build upon.

Photo of Lillian Clevland Compton
Lillian Cleveland Compton,
President, Frostburg State Teachers College


Sports, education, medicine, the military, black history, government and politics, women's rights, frontier life, society, coal mining, art, religion, aviation, railroading, and business are among the many sectors in which were identified over 200 representative women.   

A comment also needs to be made on the "Button Chapter". This was added to the site much later. The six pages included at the end and the associated narratives are meant to be a very, very brief overview simply highlighting a few of the organizations, issues, events, and people involved in the women's movement. Obviously, these are very superficial descriptions and characterizations of some very complex and often controversial subjects. Detailed research and information exists on each of these topics. Although my collection of "women's" buttons number in the hundreds, we were limited by space. Painful editing resulted in the omission of several items pertaining to numerous public and national policy issues, as well as benchmark events in the women's movement. It has always been my belief that these buttons are a most colorful and graphic depiction of our First Amendment freedoms of speech and assembly, visually characterize almost 100 years of public policy and debate vis-à-vis various issues pertaining to women and in this instance provide a nice complement to the local women's history and eras portrayed in the earlier chapters.

It is also important to note the support and collaboration of WHILBR, the Western Maryland Historical Library website, part of the Western Maryland Regional Library, in the development, enhancement, and maintenance of this project.



Resources consulted

Jill (Harper) Victor
Jill (Harper) Victor,
US Air Force
  • Allegany County Board of County Commissioners - Carol Gaffney
  • Bryn Mawr College, Canaday Library - Barbara Ward Grubb
  • City of Cumberland - Kathy McKenney
  • Frostburg State University Library, Special Collections Department – MaryJo Price
  • Maryland Public Secondary School Athletic Association (MPSSAA)
  • Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame, Maryland State Archives.
  • Feldstein, Albert. Feldstein’s Gone But Not Forgotten, A Biographical Graveside Tribute to Historic Allegany County Figures and Notable Personages from the Past, Volume I and II. Cumberland, Md.: Commercial Press Printing Company, 1988, 1989
  • Stegmaier, Harry I., David M. Dean, Gordon E. Kershaw, and John B. Wiseman, Allegany County; a history. Parsons, WV: McClain Printing Company, 1976

With suggestions and additional information provided by: Angela Feldstein, Beverly Budd, Linda Golden, Dan Whetzel, Marjorie (Hobrock) Gagliano, JoAnn Harper, Linda Brant, Sharon Leasure, Jim Goldsworthy, Amy Workman, Gerald Altizer, Colleen Peterson, Julie A. Davis, Bob Bantz, C. Eugene Mason, Diane Johnson, Jim and Myra Ott and Vicki Day.

Updated February 2016


Western Maryland Regional Library is grateful to Al Feldstein for allowing us to post his research on Whilbr.   

We are most appreciative of the women who shared their stories and pictures, and all of those individuals, organizations and newspapers who helped us find and tell the stories of Allegany County’s Historic Women.