Skip to main content

Kate Gleason silver tea set

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: RITArc-0406

Scope and Contents

Seven silver piece tea set originally owned by Kate Gleason, RIT benefactor.

A typed note accompanies the tea set and provides contextual information.

December 15, 1978

The Kate Gleason Silver Tea Set belonged to the sister of Mr. James Gleason who was a member of the [RIT] Board of Trustees for more than 50 years, long its chairman. Kate Gleason was the first woman engineer in Rochester, a graduate of Cornell University. During World War I she served with the Red Cross in France, later returning there to buy a chateau which she enjoyed on visits. At the time of World WarII the caretakers of Miss Gleason's property buried her silver to keep it out of the hands of the Nazis, restoring it to the chateau after the war.

Miss Eleanor Gleason, a lifetime member of the Women's Council at RIT went to France to settle her sister's property; bring back some treasures to this country. About 1958 Miss Eleanor presented the Kate Gleason Silver to the women's dormitory named for her sister on the old campus, Kate Gleason Hall. At the time of the move to the new campus it was given to the President of the Women's Club, Mrs. Betty Glasenapp, to be used by the RIT Women's Club. [Note is typed on RIT President's stationery which pictures the RIT President's house and the address, 3940 East Avenue, Rochester, New York 14618]


  • Creation: 19??

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to researchers.

Biographical / Historical

Kate Gleason (1865-1933), an engineering and business pioneer, was a member of a Rochester family that has been associated with RIT since the late 1800s. Raised in upstate New York, at a time when women rarely were leaders in industry and commerce, Kate Gleason overcame innumerable obstacles to excel in business and engineering. Among her many notable accomplishments was the invention of mass-produced, low-cost housing built out of concrete. It earned her the nickname "Concrete Kate", as well as a membership in the American concrete Institute, the first woman to be so recognized.

Young Kate was well read, a wonderful conversationalist, loved riding horses, and was a witty raconteur. She never married, and amassed quite a fortune by the time of her death in 1933.

Credited with several noteworthy firsts, she was the first female to enroll in Cornell University's engineering program (1884)and the first woman to qualify as a member in these eminent organizations:

  • Verein Deutscher Ingenieure, the German Engineering Society (1914)
  • Rochester Engineering Society (1917)
  • American Society of mechanical Engineers (1918)
  • American Concrete Institute (1919)
  • Extent

    7 Item(s) (Located on East Wall of CS.South, Shelf 93)




    Collection is a tea set originally owned by RIT benefactor Kate Gleason.


    The seven piece tea set is housed in one box.

    Physical Location

    C.S. South, East Wall, Shelf 93.

    Processing Information

    Finding aid created by Jody Sidlauskas in July 2012.

    Kate Gleason silver tea set
    Description rules
    Describing Archives: A Content Standard
    Language of description
    Script of description
    Code for undetermined script
    Language of description note

    Repository Details

    Part of the RIT Archives Repository

    Rochester NY 14623 USA