Mary Herbert Roebling
Mary Herbert Roebling (1905-1994) was the first woman to serve as head of a major commercial bank when she became president of the Trenton Trust in 1936.
After her husband’s early death, Roebling found herself stranded as a young widow with two children. Her father and father-in-law insisted that Roebling, as executor of her husband’s estate, step into the role of president of the Trenton Trust (the Roebling family bank). Roebling ran the bank by day and attended evening banking courses at New York University by way of the commuter train. She has been credited with saving the Roebling bank during years of economic upheaval, as well as establishing crucial public relations, merchandising, drive-in banking, and related services.
Roebling attracted a significant amount of attention from Washington, D.C. for her many achievements in Trenton. As a result, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed her to a committee working on the China Relief Bill. President Harry Truman also made Roebling the only female member of the Citizen’s Advisory Committee on Armed Forces Installations. She was also a delegate to the Atlantic Congress for NATO, a delegate for the White House Conference on Refugee Problems, chair of women’s activities for the International Chamber of Commerce’s 17th Congress, and a member of the Citizens Advisory Council to the Committee on the Status of Women.
In 1958, Roebling became the first female governor of the New York Stock Exchange. Several years later, in 1978, she helped found the Women’s Bank of Denver which was the nation’s first chartered bank established by women. She received the President’s Medal from the U.S. Army, the Distinguished Service Award from the US Marine Corps, and an Outstanding Civilian Service Medal.
Trenton Roebling Community Development Corporation. 1900. The Trenton Roebling project: … report. Trenton, N.J.: The Corporation. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/27340415
Questions to Explore
What steps did Roebling take to save the Roebling bank during economic upheaval?
How was Roebling appointed the first female governor of the New York Stock Exchange?
What was different about the nations first chartered bank established by women compared to other banks?
Krismann, Carol. Encyclopedia of American Women in Business: M-Z. United Kingdom: Greenwood Press, 2005.
Hoxie R. Gordon. 1995. “In Memoriam Mary Gindhart Roebling July 29 1905-October 25 1994.” Presidential Studies Quarterly 195–96. https://www.worldcat.org/title/5547108789
Burstyn Joan N. 1990. “Mary Gindhart Herbert Roebling.” Past and Promise Lives of New Jersey Women. https://www.worldcat.org/title/54795077