Albany Female Proprietors

The decorated woman’s hat shown here was made and sold by Hendrie & Campbell, an Albany millinery partnership formed by Scottish immigrants Isabelle B. Hendrie and Mary J. Campbell. Located first on N. Pearl Street and then at 11 Leonard Place, the firm of Hendrie & Campbell competed with roughly three dozen other milliners and lasted for over thirty years. A major competitor was the McQuade Millinery Shop at 234 State Street, which was also a female-owned business.

The McQuade sisters, Maude C. and Mary E., and the Scottish immigrants Hendrie and Campbell were four of the thousands of female entrepreneurs who ran small businesses in the Capital Region between about 1830 and 1930. Most female entrepreneurs were found in the millinery and dressmaking trades, but women in the Capital Region also made and sold men’s collars, shirts, boots, furnishings, and cigars. They ran boarding houses, restaurants, commercial laundries, hotels, saloons, tobacco shops, and liquor stores. A few women were undertakers, blacksmiths, coopers, and plumbers. Small businesses like the McQuade Millinery Shop and Hendrie & Campbell began to vanish from downtown neighborhoods in the twentieth century, finding it difficult to compete with department stores.

Was Albany uniquely friendly to businesswomen? It is difficult to say. Thanks to recent scholarship, we know more about female entrepreneurs in the Capital Region than other regions of the United States.

 

Magnifying Glass
Woman’s Hat
Made by Misses Hendrie and Campbell, Albany, New York
1915-1922
Buckram covered with silk satin and pyroxaline, trimmed with cotton lace and fabric violets
Albany Institute of History & Art, gift of Mrs. Lawrence O’Donnell, 1990.29.14
McQuade Millinery Shop
1920s
Gelatin silver photographic print
Albany Institute of History & Art Library, gift of Norman S. Rice