Changing the Way Things Are Done 

Thanks to the unflinching, indefatigable, courageous, often bold and creative efforts of women from the past and present, there is no such thing as “A Man’s World!” 

Below are just some of the fascinating women and their accomplishments from the past and present which have and which continue to shape the world around us both locally and across the globe.

  • Blanche Stuart Scott was the first female pilot in the U.S. and the only female trained personally by Glenn H. Curtiss. While she wasn't from here, she did spend some time in Hammondsport training with Curtiss. Self-proclaimed "Tomboy of the Air," she was very popular for her act which was called "nerve-tingling, spine-chilling, and thrill-producing." In the photo above she's on a Curtiss pusher in a field in Hammondsport in the early 1900s. Learn about Blanche Stuart Scott and other early female aviators in the book Flying High Pioneer Women in American Aviation penned by local historian, Kirk W. House, and Charles R. Mitchell. There's also a display of that name at the Curtiss Museum paying tribute to these early aviatrixes. 
  • Ruth Viola Tice Davis of Corning was the first female to achieve a parachute jump from an open cockpit airplane.
  • Another Ruth, Ruth Law did the first looping-the-loop ever by a male or female pilot back in 1915 at the age of 27. The following year, she was the first female pilot to set an American distance record and the World’s Women’s Distance Record flying 590 miles from Chicago, IL to Hornell, NY. Admiral Robert Peary said of her long-distance flight, “Miss Law’s splendid accomplishment has shone so that the whole world may read what a woman can do.” 

“On Nov. 19, 1916, Ruth Law fearlessly glided her Curtiss Airplane into the Hornell Fair Grounds, breaking the longest distance aerial record in America and the longest distance flight for any woman in the world — from Chicago, Ill. to Hornell, N.Y. - Chris Potter, Evening Tribune

Ruth Law in Curtiss Pusher on Froxzen Keuka Lake
Ruth Law in Curtiss Pusher on Frozen Keuka Lake courtesy Glenn H. Curtiss Museum
  • Katharine Houghton Hepburn (heiress to the Corning Glass fortune and mother to actress Katharine Hepburn) was born in Corning and was friends with Margaret Sanger, founder and leader of the American Birth Control League (which later became Planned Parenthood). Sanger was also from Corning. Houghton Hepburn was a pioneer feminist and is now enshrined in the Connecticut Women's Hall of Fame.
  • Narcissa Prentiss Whitman was born in the small town of Prattsburgh in 1808. At age sixteen, Narcissa decided she wanted to become a missionary and years later became one of the first two white women to journey across the continent and cross the Rocky Mountains on foot, opening the way for future emigrants who journeyed on the Oregon Trail. Today, you can visit her childhood home in Prattsburgh. By some accounts, she was the “best-known and most loved characters in the history of the Pacific Northwest.” According to other interpretations, she is perhaps "Old Oregon’s most famous and tragic woman. Her reputation ranges from heroic to intolerant." 
  • Meaghan Frank, a 4th generation winemaker and Dr. Konstantin Frank’s great-granddaughter, inherited a legacy for making a change. You can see Meaghan’s influence at the winery already inspiring other wineries throughout the region as she started the first exclusive sit-down pairings in the region and established a series of wines named after the women in her family as an homage to their often unnoticed, yet important roles.
Meaghan Frank Leading Tour at Dr. Frank's
Meaghan Frank Leads Vineyard Tour courtesy Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery

“Nearby, Hands-On Glass, the original glassmaking experience in town . . . offers a similar but more personalized and family friendly experience.” - Maria Carter, Country Living

Rodi Rovner at Hands-on Glass Studio
Rodi Rovner Shapes Glass at Hands-on Glass courtesy Stu Gallagher
  • Rodi Rovner founded the first public access studio to offer hands-on glassblowing classes in Corning three decades ago. The goal was to create a place to provide access to this amazing material for everyone from novice to professional, including experiences for participants as young as two years-of-age. Offering a range of glassmaking techniques and rental access for artists, these humble beginnings paved the way for The Corning Museum of Glass to expand and grow the studio concept. “It is with gratitude to so many in our community who helped to make this happen,” says Rodi. “We celebrate and stand on the shoulders of those who worked to make Corning the Crystal City.” Rodi and the artists at Hands-on Glass Studio continue to offer what Country Living Magazine called a "personalized and family friendly experience."
  • Helen Tegeler, Catherine Ayers and other glass artists at The Corning Museum of Glass continue to push the boundaries of glassmaking developing their own styles and expressing themselves through their chosen medium. Visitors to the museum can often see Helen and Catherine, as well as visiting guest artists taking part in the daily live glassblowing demonstrations and special events. Glass artist Cat Burns has had a long relationship with The Corning Museum of Glass. When she couldn't afford art school, Cat came to the museum to learn. While she does not work for the museum, she has done an Artist-in-Residence experience at The Studio. You might know Cat from Netflix Blown Away. She sells a lot of her work in The Shops.
  • Visit the Glenn H Curtiss Museum to learn a little more about Blanche Stuart Scott, Ruth Law, Ruth Nichols, and other female aviation pioneers.
Guest Artist Helen Tegeler
Glass Artist Helen Tegeler courtesy The Corning Museum of Glass