SEM's Story

Founded as The Buffalo Female Academy in 1851, Buffalo Seminary has long been unique in the history of education both in Buffalo and Western New York. Imbued with the tradition of the New England academy, the school was founded by parents who wanted their daughters to have as rigorous an education as their sons were receiving in boys' schools.

Buffalo Seminary was the first independent school in Buffalo. In 1889, under the leadership of Lucy Hartt, the trustees voted to change the school's name to Buffalo Seminary, reinforcing their commitment to providing a school of higher education for girls.

Under the direction of L. Gertrude Angell, the expanding school moved to its present location on Bidwell Parkway in 1909. The dynamic Miss Angell served as Headmistress from 1903 until 1952. Through her leadership, the values of scholarship, service, and loyalty became part of Buffalo Seminary.

SEM has continued to grow and evolve and the program has been modified to meet the challenges of the increasingly complex world.

Our college preparatory curriculum provides graduates with the skills for academic success in the realm of higher education. Our sense of community and spirit provide a sound basis for an informed, active life well beyond the classroom.

Remaining true and committed to single-sex education for women, we resisted independent education's trend toward coeducation in the early 1970s. In fact, SEM has grown as we continued to develop our academic and extracurricular programs without sacrificing time-honored traditions.

In 2008, we began our one-to-one tablet computer program and established our residential program with host families. In 2009, we also unveiled the Bassett Squash Courts and Ladds Fitness Center, featuring regulation-size squash courts and fitness center. We expanded our residential program from two houses in 2009 to five residential houses for students and faculty. These residences flank the school building on two sides and all are connected by a beautiful courtyard gathering space. With our Larkin Field just a short walk down a leafy parkway, our unique urban campus is complete.



Buffalo Seminary Heads of School

Dr. Charles E. West 1851-1860
(Buffalo Female Academy)

Dr. Albert T. Chester 1860-1887
(Buffalo Female Academy)

Lucy Lynde Hartt '63 1887-1899
(Buffalo Female Academy; presided over the name change to Buffalo Seminary)

Jessica E. Beers 1899-1903

L(isbeth) Gertrude Angell 1903-1952

Marian W. Smith 1952-1959

Richard W. Davis 1959-1966

James W. Donnelly 1966-1967

Robert A. Foster 1967-1992

Sarah K. Briggs 1992-1995

Marjorie E. Barney 1995-2001

Sandra P. Gilmor 2001-2007

Jo Ann (Jody) Douglass 2007-2016

Helen L. Marlette 2016-

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