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Notable Camden County Women
Website Manager
By Website Manager
Published on March 22, 2012
March is Women’s History Month.  We're featuring nine exceptional women of Camden County in our Spring 2012 issue.

Margaret Bancroft
Educator and founder of the Bancroft School in Haddonfield, NJ

Bancroft was founded in 1883 as one of the nation’s first private schools for children with developmental disabilities. Today, this leading nonprofit organization helps people of all ages reach their full potential for fulfilling and productive lives. In fact, Bancroft is now the third largest nonprofit in the state, serving 1,300 people annually through a wide range of programs in NJ, PA and DE.

It all began with a young Philadelphia teacher named Margaret Bancroft. At the time, children with developmental disabilities weren’t usually given the benefits of an education. But Margaret realized that such children have the ability to learn and succeed if given individualized attention, patience and love. She decided to devote her life to this purpose.

Margaret started her school with one pupil in a rented house just a few blocks from the current Haddonfield campus. As word of her success spread, her school grew and acquired another Haddonfield property, as well as a summer site in Maine.

Margaret Bancroft died in 1912. Her will included provisions for the perpetuation of her school.

Cindy Birdsong
American singer-songwriter; member of Patti LaBelle & the Bluebelles; member of the legendary Motown group, the Supremes

Born December 15, 1939 in Mount Holly, New Jersey, Cindy Birdsong moved to Camden in 1945.
When she finished school she became a sales girl, worked as a dental receptionist and decided to take singing lessons.

At 17, Birdsong joined the Bluebelles – Patti LaBelle’s group. In 1967 she was invited to Motown founder Berry Gordy’s house. She was asked to join the Supremes and sang with them until they broke up in the late 1970s.

Maria Barnaby Greenwald
Mayor, Freeholder, Surrogate

A one-time nursery school teacher, Maria Barnaby Greenwald began her political career as a member of the Cherry Hill Township Council and served as that community’s first female mayor from 1977 to 1979.
In 1981 she became Cherry Hill’s first directly-elected mayor, holding that position until 1987.

In 1990 she was elected to the Camden County Board of Chosen Freeholders, rising to become the first female director of that seven-member body.

Ms. Greenwald became a Camden County Surrogate in 1993, handling probate and related cases. Two years later, she died in a motor vehicle accident at age 54.

Elizabeth Haddon
Quaker founder of Haddonfield, NJ

Elizabeth Haddon came to America at age 21 when her father decided not to leave London to settle his 1,000 acres in New Jersey.

In early 1700 preparations were made for her voyage; an older female companion was secured along with two men to work the New Jersey land. Along with the usual household necessities, Elizabeth brought with her some English box shrubs, an ear of Indian corn and four or more English yew trees.

Two yews were planted at the southeast corner of Second & Sycamore Streets. When she arrived at her new home, two more were planted.

Young Elizabeth built a house on Cooper’s Creek called Haddon’s Field, later known as Haddonfield.
A skilled herbal practitioner who tended both Indians and colonists, Elizabeth Haddon and her husband, John Estaugh, a Quaker preacher she married in 1702, founded the first Friends Meeting in Haddonfield, where Elizabeth served as clerk of the Women’s Meeting for 50 years.

Miriam Lee Early Lippincott
Educator and outspoken champion and defender of women’s rights

New Jersey native Miriam Lee Early Lippincott’s life was shaped by her love of oratory and dramatics.
Lippincott worked with the New Jersey Woman’s Suffrage Association and its successor, the League of Women Voters.  An avowed suffragist by 1914, she was the League’s first at-large member from Camden and served on their executive committee, dedicating 20 years to educating women as voters.

When a League survey showed that some New Jersey counties banned women from serving on juries, Lippincott met with judges to persuade them to appoint female jurors. In 1936, when women were finally chosen for jury service on the U.S. District Court for New Jersey, she was among the first group of female jurors to serve.

Always committed to women’s education, she was affiliated with the New Jersey College for Women – later known as Douglass College – for 25 years; the first woman appointed to Camden’s Board of Education
and its Vice President from 1924-1927; and a member of the American Association of University Women from 1936 until her death. In 1937 the Soroptimist Club named her Camden County’s most outstanding woman.
At age 60, she began working for early cancer detection as New Jersey’s first field commander of the American Society for the Control of Cancer – today’s American Cancer Society. Her gift for oratory and public speaking spurred residents of all 21 New Jersey counties to form their own chapters of the Society by the time she died in 1947.

Willa Mae Brown
The first African American woman to serve in the United States Army from New Jersey (serving in the Women’s Army Corps)

Returning home after WWII, she owned and operated Ebony Beauty Shop in the Centerville section of Camden from the 1950s through the late 1970s.

She was a member of the Women’s Auxiliary of Cooper Hospital, the Charles Henderson Auxiliary, and attended the First Nazarene Baptist Church for more than 50 years. Ms. Brown was also active in the Camden Association for Economic Advancement ―a group of African-American business owners in the 1960s.

Willa Mae Brown passed away in 2003 and is buried in Harleigh Cemetery.

Lola Falana 
Singer, dancer, actress, model and nightclub headliner

Born in Camden, NJ, on September 11, 1942, Loletha Elaine Falana’s early years were spent in the Clement T. Branch Village public housing project in the Centerville section of Camden.

After moving to New York, she was spotted by Sammy Davis, Jr. and cast as lead dancer in his Broadway musical, “Golden Boy.”

Lola spent much of her career performing in Las Vegas and, in 1984, joined the cast of the CBS soap opera, Capitol.

Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1987, she most recently toured the country giving inspirational lectures.

Ann S. Salsberg
Camden County’s first female lawyer and the first woman in Camden County to register to vote

Ann Schmerling Salsberg began her legal career in 1917 as secretary to T. Harry Rowland, prominent Camden lawyer and former State Assemblyman.  She was the only woman in the Temple University Law School class of 1928. For most of her career she maintained her own practice in Pennsauken and was a long-time solicitor for the Pennsauken Township Zoning Board. She retired as a lawyer in the early 1990s.

She passed away in 2003.

Mary H. Thomas
Camden’s first licensed African-American mortician

Mary H. Thomas was the first licensed black female mortician to practice in the city of Camden.
The Thomas Day Care Nursing Home for Children, which still operates on South 8th Street in Camden as the Mary H. Thomas Day Care Center, was named in her honor.

Biographical information provided by the Camden County Historical Society, 1900 Park Blvd., Camden, NJ, 856-964-3333, Margaret Bancroft’s biography provided by Bancroft, 425 Kings Highway East, Haddonfield, NJ, (856) 429-0010,

As seen in: Camden County Woman (Spring 2012)