- The Museum in the Streets -
— Danbury, Connecticut —
Throughout its history, countless women have contributed to Danbury and the lives of its citizens. Here are just a few that have left their mark on our community.
Mary Bull (1812-1882) dedicated her life to attending the poor and needy of Danbury. In 1857, she founded The Danbury Children's Home. Upon her death, the newspaper described her as a woman ?whose worth none of us can fully measure' and whose death was a ?public misfortune.'
Dr. Sophia Penfield graduated from the Homeopathic Medical College for Women in New York City in 1869 and was the first licensed female physician in the State. Dr. Penfield opened her practice on Main Street in 1872. She served the citizens of Danbury for nearly 50 years. In 1911 she helped establish the Danbury Visiting Nurse Association.
At one time, women made up 20 percent of the work force in the hat shops of Danbury. As members of the Hat Trimmers Union, women had the largest membership of the four hatters' union local. Among their duties, they were required to act as a cheering section for their company baseball team. The Hat Trimmers Assiciation was involved in several strikes and lockouts in the late 19th century.
In 1975, Betty Corso, Alice Chapman and Bonnie Law founded The Women's Center of Greater Danbury as a place where women could gather and explore ways to improve their lives. Since then it has grown into a professional social service agency serving women, men and children from 13 Southwestern Connecticut towns.
Noted author Rose Wilder Lane, daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder, made her home in the King Street area for 30 years. Danbury native, genealogist, historian and author Susan Benedict Hill, cpmpleted the unfinished History of Danbury 1684-1896
left incomplete by the death of James Montgomery Bailey.
Local women played a key role during World War II.many signed up for military service in the WACS, WAVES and WASPs. Eleanor Feeley Lowery was one of the first 100 women invited to Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas. In 1943, she completed her training and became a Women's Air Force Service Pilot.