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As part of my internship at the Ramsayer Research Library here at the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum, I was tasked with creating an exhibit for the display case in the library. The assignment was, “Share a story that needs to be told.” At first, researching possible ideas was overwhelming because there were simply too many stories to tell. After much thought and consideration about what kind of story should be told, the topic presented itself. The women who shaped Canton, Ohio have been largely forgotten in history and their stories need to be shared. Library volunteer Judy Cloud Pocock gave some guidance for this project. She suggested that Elizabeth Aultman Harter be included in the display case exhibit. Once Elizabeth’s life story started to be uncovered, it was clear that she was the woman who the exhibit should focus on.
Elizabeth Aultman Harter was an incredibly accomplished woman— and not just in her time. Her legacy still impresses to this day. Daughter of Canton, Ohio’s first millionaire entrepreneur Cornelius Aultman, Elizabeth left a lasting mark on Stark County. She and her stepmother Katherine Barron Reybold Aultman founded Aultman Hospital here in Canton, Ohio. Elizabeth served on the board of directors at the Aultman Taylor Company in Mansfield, Ohio. She also presided as one of the first presidents of Canton’s YWCA. Another thing that made Mrs. Harter so outstanding is that she, like her father Cornelius Aultman, was one of Canton’s greatest ‘silent’ benefactors, putting many young men through college who otherwise would not have had the opportunity. While she exceled in her professional career, she was also a strong woman in her personal life. When she was just eighteen, Elizabeth lost her birth mother Eliza Wise Aultman after a long-term illness. In her adult life, Mrs. Harter lost her first daughter Eliza when she was just six months old. Later, Elizabeth lost her only son Cornelius A. Harter when he was four. The passing of her husband George DeWalt Harter made Elizabeth a widow and single mother to four daughters by the age of forty-three. However, despite her successes and the hardships she overcame, her memory has faded from history. To bring her back to life, Ramsayer Research Library intern Alyia Marasco has uncovered her legacy to share her story. “Elizabeth Harter’s Lasting Legacy” will be displayed in the Ramsayer Research Library display case. The Library is open Tuesday through Friday from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm for anyone who would like to view this new exhibit.