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 laptop program and established our residential program with host families. In 2009, we unveiled the Bassett Squash Courts and Ladds Fitness Center. We expanded our residential program from two houses in 2009 to now five residential houses for students and faculty. These residences flank the school building on two sides and all are connected by the Magavern-Sutton Courtyard, a beautiful gathering space with a lawn, benches and picnic tables. With our Larkin Field just a 5-minute 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
L(isbeth) Gertrude Angell 1903-1952
Marian W. Smith 1952-1959
Richard W. Davis
James W. Donnelly
Robert A. Foster
Sarah K. Briggs
Marjorie E. Barney
Sandra P. Gilmor
Jo Ann (Jody) Douglass 2007-2016
Helen L. Marlette