Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Kathryn Helene Starbuck, 1887-1965

By Rusty Tobin, Empire (N.Y.) State College

Kathryn Helene Starbuck was born November 16, 1887 in Saratoga Springs, New York, the oldest child of Edgar D. Starbuck, and Ella Martin Starbuck. Her father owned a department store. She had two younger brothers, one of whom, Edgar, she lived with her entire life. She attended Vassar College between 1907 and 1911 during the period when woman suffrage became a major issue on campus led by Inez Milholland. Starbuck graduated from Albany Law School in 1914 and served as Saratoga County Chair of the New York State Woman Suffrage Party between 1916 and 1918. She compiled a digest of the laws relating to women and children during the first twenty years of the century and information on office holding and occupations for Ida Husted Harper's History of Woman Suffrage but the information was not included in the final draft.

In 1918 Starbuck was among the first women named to the Executive Committee of Democratic State Committee. The same year she ran unsuccessfully for a New York State Assembly seat from Saratoga County on the Democratic ticket and remained active with the state Democratic Party the rest of her life. After 1920, she served on the Committee for the Uniform Laws For Women of the National League of Women Voters and campaigned in New York State to allow women serve on juries.

While conducting a private law practice and functioning as vice president of the family Department Store, Starbuck joined the newly opened Skidmore College in 1921 as Executive Secretary and Professor and served in this capacity for thirty-three years. Her volunteer work included stints as a member of the Board of Trustees of both Vassar and Skidmore Colleges, President of the New York State Business and Professional Women's Club, International Relations Chairman of the National Business and Professional Women's Club and the American Association of University Women, Director, Trustee and Director of the Yaddo Corporation, President of the Saratoga County Health Association, and Program Chairman for the Pan-Pacific and Southeast Asia Women's Association. She was also a member of several educational and law organizations. She died on November 19, 1965 in Saratoga Springs, NY.


Harper, Ida Husted, History of Woman Suffrage, Vol VI, New York: National Woman Suffrage Association, 1922, 459.

Malcolm, James, ed. The New York Red Book. Albany, NY: J. B. Lyon Co., 1919, 488.

Twelfth Census 1900, Census Place: Saratoga Springs Ward 4, Saratoga, New York; Roll: 1159; Page: 16B; Enumeration District: 0131; FHL microfilm: 1241159b.

Thirteenth Census 1910, Census Place: Saratoga Springs Ward 4, Saratoga, New York; Roll: T624_1076; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 0133; FHL microfilm: 1375089.

"Board of Trustees Chairman, 1861-2000" Vassar College Encyclopedia, accessed 1/8/2017 at,_1861-2000.

"The Suffrage Movement at Vassar," Vassar College Encyclopedia, accessed 1/8/2017 at

"Women Albany Law School," accessed 1/11/2017 at

"Urges Women to Work for Suffrage." The Saratogian (Saratoga Springs, NY), 6/10/1916, 2.

"Democrats Pick Seven Candidates," New York Times (NYT), 7/10/1918, 11.

"Miss Starbuck, Educator, Dead," The Saratogian (Saratoga Springs, NY), 11/19/1965, 1.

"Prominent Educator, Lawyer Dies," The Troy Record (Troy, NY), 11/20/1965, 7.

A collection of Kathryn Starbuck's papers, 1921-1965 are located at the Skidmore College Archives.

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