Elizabeth F. Leonard
Papers, 1875-1906


Quantity: 2 boxes (0.25 cubic ft.)
Access: Open to research
Acquisition: Gift, Edgar C. Leonard, May 1923
Processed By: Bryana Wachowicz, Student Assistant, University at Albany,Manuscript and Special Collections, December 2014; revised August 2015

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Biographical/Historical Note:

Elizabeth F. Leonard, commonly known as Bessie Woolworth Leonard, was born in Missouri on February 10, 1862, to Calvin Colton Woolworth and his wife, Sarah Parker Woolworth.

Her father owned Woolworth & Graham (later the Fort Orange Paper Company) in Castleton, Rensselaer County, New York, Bessie's great-great-grandfather was Rev. Samuel Buell, who was known to have passed information to the American forces during the occupation of Long Island by the British Army.

Bessie Woolworth married Edgar Cotrell Leonard on October 15, 1890. Edgar's family were hatters and furriers with a large department store named Cotrell & Leonard, located at 472-478 Broadway in Albany, New York. Cotrell & Leonard became well-known as the first store to sell traditional academic dress in America after Edgar C. Leonard's younger brother, Gardner Cotrell Leonard, designed a cap and gown for his graduating class at Williams College in Williamstown, Berkshire County, Massachusetts, in 1887, and had the robes manufactured through Cotrell & Leonard. In 1895, the Intercollegiate Commission at Columbia University (of which Gardner Cotrell Leonard was a member) adopted