Marian de Forest (1864-1935) suffered an eye injury during childhood. She was tutored at home and had to memorize her lessons until she was able to overcome her disability. She went on to become a prominent journalist and playwright in Buffalo, New York. She was head of the Woman’s Department and dramatic editor for the “Buffalo Express for 22 years. In 1911 she wrote her first play, an adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women.” It was a smash hit and was performed in NYC, London, and Paris.
She actively developed the performing arts in Buffalo, NY by establishing the Buffalo Musical Foundation. She worked with the local school district to bring professional musicians and orchestras to the children of the area. She helped form the Buffalo Philharmonic and during the depression, she created a Pop Concert to provide work for unemployed musicians. She served on the board of the Buffalo Public Library, the Humane Society, and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).
Her most lasting legacy is Zonta International, a professional women’s club she founded in 1919 in Buffalo, NY, Zonta International is still active in over 63 countries including the United States. Its mission is to empower women worldwide through service and advocacy. Members advocate for women’s issues including shepherding laws through governments to empower and protect women. Areas that they focus on are advocating for gender equality, ending gender-based violence, ending child marriage, and expanding access to education. They have scholarships for female students studying science, business, and public affairs. The club’s symbol is a yellow rose.
Marian de Forest was inducted to the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2001.