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Born: 12/17/1907, Died: 8/7/1976

Historian and genealogist Hannah Roach, née Benner, holds the distinction as one of the first women to be awarded an architecture degree (B.S. Arch.) by the University of Pennsylvania, and was among the early female architecture students there. Her degree was awarded retrospectively in 1937, but she had earned a B.S. in Fine Arts in 1929, when women were not permitted to receive the architecture degree at Penn.

Roach was born in Akron, Ohio, the daughter of Joseph Sieber Benner and Nillie Stuver Benner, and attended West Side High School, graduating in 1925. After completing her architecture degree, she worked in several Philadelphia architectural offices: Charles Z. Klauder (1928), R. Brognard Okie (1929-1930), the Philadelphia City Planning Commission (1934), Robert Rodes McGoodwin (1936-1938), the Manufacturers' Appraisal Company (1939-1955) and Harbeson, Hough, Livingston & Larson. From the 1950s, her principal professional activity became genealogical research, although she continued to investigate and publish on Philadelphia architectural history. She was the wife of architect and fellow Penn alumnus F. Spencer Roach, whom she married in 1931.

Written by Emily T. Cooperman.

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  • Athenaeum of Philadelphia

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  • University of Pennsylvania

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