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Work - Architecture


Shaping Public Opinion

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Service to Country

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Where are the Women:
Examples from the LVA Collections



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Government Employment | Women in Business | Architecture 
Women at Work: Selected Photographs from the Library of Virginia Collections

Throughout the twentieth century, women ventured into occupations previously dominated by men. Ethel Bailey Furman was the first African American woman in Virginia to practice architecture. The daughter of a Richmond contractor, Furman attended Armstrong High School and received architectural training in New York and later at the Chicago Technical College. Because local administrators refused to accept Furman as an architect, contractors working with her submitted her drawings to local agencies for approval. Furman became more active in her father’s business and in 1927 was the only female contractor to attend the contractors’ conference at Hampton Institute. As an architect, she designed an estimated two hundred residences and churches, including two churches in Liberia. Furman was active in the Richmond community and received the Walter Manning Citizenship Award and was named to the Richmond Afro–American’s Community Honor Roll in 1954 and 1959.

Ethel Madison Bailey Furman (1893–1976). Photograph. Courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. J. Livingston Furman

Dwelling for Mr. and Mrs. Junius A. Snead, Glen Allen. Ethel Bailey Furman (1893–1976). Ca. 1973. Blueprint. Ethel Bailey Furman, Architectural drawings and plans, Dwelling for Mr. and Mrs. Edward Snead, Goochland County, Virginia, ca. 1973. Acc. 40736, Drawings and plans collection. The Library of Virginia

“Negro Contractors’ Conference” at Hampton Institute. 1928. Cheyne’s Studio, Hampton, photographer. Courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. J. Livingston Furman