[3 Panels]
The lives of this years' honorees' added to the State Senate's Women of Distinction exhibit -- Katharine Bement Davis, Lucille Ball, and Barbara McClintock -- are summarized in text and photos, shown above as mounted in Albany's Empire State Plaza Concourse.

[NYCHS Shield]
[NYS Senate]
Women of Distinction
Exhibit Honors
Correction's Suffragist: Katharine Bement Davis
[NYS seal]

[KBD panel]
The exhibit's Katharine Bement Davis panel of text and photos.

The following is the text on the Katharine Bement Davis panel in the New York State Women of Distinction traveling exhibit:

Katharine Bement Davis

(1860 – 1935)

Prison Reformer

In the midst of the women's suffrage movement, Katharine Bement Davis was appointed as the New York City Correction Commissioner. The year was 1914, and a woman had been named to run a major municipal agency that involved over 5,000 inmates and nine prisons and jails operated by 650 employees. Although unprecedented, Ms. Davis' selection was not without warrant.
[Senator Padavan]
At the Albany Empire Plaza Concourse unveiling of the NYS Senate exhibit, State Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno and Senator Mary Lou Rath of Erie County listen as eastern Queens Senator Frank Padavan describes Katharine Bement Davis whom he sponsored for inclusion among the Women of Distinction.
[KBD Bio cover]
The Women of Distinction display write-up on Katharine Bement Davis was based, to a significant extent, on the mini-history of her life and times authored by New York Correction History Society general secretary Thomas McCarthy. He also provided photos for the Davis display board.

The book, New York City's Suffragist Commissioner: Correction's Katharine Bement Davis, is posted on this web site in the Chronicles section with a choice of formats:

During her 13 years as superintendent of the New York State Bedford Hills Reformatory for Women, she was recognized for her progressive approaches in the treatment of prisoners, believing that education was the key to reform.

Born in Buffalo and raised in Dunkirk, it may have been Ms. Davis' father who laid the groundwork for her emphasis on education. He stressed its importance for his three daughters no less than for his two sons. Her father also found Katharine a teaching job where she earned the money needed to attend Vassar College.

As the City Correction Commissioner, she continued to implement prison reform measures. One of her first changes was the transfer of adolescent male inmates from Blackwell Island to a farm in Orange County. She halted public sightseeing tours, calling them degrading for inmates, and is perhaps best remembered for the abolition of striped prison clothing.

In addition to her responsibilities as Commissioner, Ms. Davis took an active role in the Woman Suffrage Party, and she was chosen as the Progressive candidate as a delegate-at-large to a State Constitutional Convention -- the first woman to run for statewide office in New York and before women had the right to vote.

Planning ahead to when the vote would be won, Ms. Davis and other suffrage leaders established the Women's City Club of New York, and she was among those who helped form the League of Women Voters. Ms. Davis' life and career were dedicated to serving society. Her contributions to prison reform, women's rights, and social causes are deserving of great tribute and recognition.

Text Source: Correction’s Katharine Bement Davis: New York City’s Suffragist Commissioner by Thomas C. McCarthy.

Go to: NYS Senate Honors Correction Suffragist

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