My name is Catherine Bartoo. Growing up in Pennsylvania in the late 1800’s I took a strong interest in art, and was fortunate to have my paintings exhibited in some of the major galleries in New York City. Music was another great interest, and I often sang and played harp at social events.
In 1899 I met and married Elfred Bartoo, an architect and artist living in Binghamton. We lived in New York City for a few years and returned to Binghamton in 1913, when, together with my husband, we founded the Binghamton Museum of Fine Arts.
It was at that time that I became interested in the Women’s Suffrage movement. After the state suffrage amendment was defeated in 1915, my good friend Margaret Topliff and I were elected Broome County District Directors of the Woman Suffrage Party. Our headquarters was located just a block up the street at 112 Court Street, and for the next two years we actively promoted women’s suffrage in preparation for the next election.
Finally, in November, 1917, all our hard work paid off – the women’s suffrage amendment passed!
After that I continued to be active in women’s politics. Two years later I was the first woman elected to the Broome County Republican Committee and that same year I was elected chairman of the Republican Women of Broome County.
Throughout the years my work in the arts continued. After founding the Museum of Fine Arts at the Binghamton Public Library, I served as President and Museum Director, and my husband was the curator for many years. Shortly after my death in 1949, the Museum of Fine Arts was relocated from the library to the Roberson Mansion, where today, many of my paintings can be seen.
Roger Luther - 2017