Part of the American
History & Genealogy Project
Federation of Women's Clubs
This organization represents 850,000
members. No other organization of women in the world represents
such a powerful and active militant movement for social
betterment. The Sorosis of New York and the Woman's Club of
Boston have long been rivals in their claim of being the oldest
organization in the United States. Each was founded in 1868, but
it has been decided that the Ladies' Library Society, of
Kalamazoo, Michigan, deserves this honor. It was founded in
1852, and the Minerva Club, of New Harmony, Indiana, was
organized in 1859. The Sorosis, however, was the leader of the
federation movement and is responsible for broadening the scope
of women's club work. The first biennial convention of the
General Federation of Women's Clubs was held in Philadelphia, in
1894. Every state in the Union has its state federation, and
there are today organizations in the Canal Zone and our insular
possessions. Almost every one of the five thousand clubs has
taken up some measure of active interest. The subject of home
economics has been one of the principal issues for club work
throughout the United States. Perhaps no other organization in
the country represents a greater force for good than the General
Federation of Women's Clubs.
Women's Clubs in
After the Centennial in Philadelphia, in
1876, a few Cincinnati women, enthused by that exhibition of
artistic beauty,' created a sentiment which resulted in the
foundation of the Art Museum Association of Cincinnati, whose
object was to bring together collections of art and to form
classes in art and handicraft. Ten years later the Art Museum
arose in Eden Park, the fruition of continuous and enthusiastic
endeavor of a few women who were capable of being inspired, and
who possessed the ability and devotion necessary to inspire
After the World's Fair in Chicago,
Cincinnati women who took an active part in furnishing and the
administration of the Woman's Building, came home and were
influential in the organization, almost simultaneously, of the
Cincinnati Women's Club and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestral
Association. To-day, the club with several hundred members, is
the proud possessor of the first Women's Club House in Ohio,
whose every line of architecture and decoration expresses the
refined taste and broad culture of its members. The Symphony
Orchestra is the pride of Ohio as well as Cincinnati
About 1893, Mr. Ralph
Radcliffe-Whitehead, a wealthy Englishman, who had been a friend
of Ruskin, and intimately associated with English arts and
crafts leaders, conceived the idea of founding in America an
arts and crafts village, in hope of doing something toward
making American life less restless, less self-conscious, and
less ugly. With this end in view, he bought about 1,200 acres of
land on the southern slope of the Catskills, in the town of
Woodstock, New York, and christened this tract "Byrdcliffe,''
and invited all those who desired to carry on artistic pursuits,
and at the same time live simply, to come and live in the simple
houses which he had built on this tract. Here was established a
library, an assembly, a metal shop, and nearly a score of other
buildings to be used as studios, shops, boarding houses, and
residences. "Byrdcliffe" has produced a distinct type of
hand-made decorative furniture. They have done some good metal
work and rug weaving. This colony was repeated in the one
established in July, 1901, called the Rose Valley Association,
chartered as a stock company, with a capital of $25,000, for the
purpose of encouraging the manufacture of such articles
involving artistic handicraft, as are used in the finishing,
decorating, and furnishing of houses. A property was purchased
called Rose Valley, located along Ridley Creek, near the city of
Moylan, about a dozen miles southwest of Philadelphia,
consisting of about eighty acres, which when purchased, was
occupied by ruined stone mills and quaint, deserted houses.
The mill was transformed into a shop for
the making of furniture, and this shop was opened in the spring
of 1902. The Rose Valley Association does not manufacture, but
extends an invitation and offers an opportunity to accredited
craftsmen to work in its shops, under the patronage of its
emblem, the emblem to be systematically stamped upon its
products, and would be the association's guarantee that the
workman has conformed in every item to competent, mechanical,
and artistic standards. The Rose Valley furniture is always
honest, and often beautiful. Carving is freely indulged in. The
aim of this association is to prove that useful things need not
be clumsy, and that beautiful things need not be fragile.
Hand-weaving, metal-working, book-binding and pottery-making
have been practiced at Rose Valley.
At old Marblehead, Massachusetts, there
is another community established by Dr. Herbert J. Hall, a nerve
specialist of this old New England town, who holds the theory
that the surest remedy for nerves and invalidism is the practice
of a manual occupation which is both useful and aesthetic. These
convictions led him to the equipping along the water front of a
group of handicraft buildings in which his patients may work.
Here artists in clay and ceramics come and some excellent work
in silver, precious, and semi-precious stones and enamel has
also been done. Artists in oil have gathered about here. Other
associations of a similar character have been established in
East Ravenswood, Illinois; Syracuse, New York, and East Aurora,
New York, and the number of arts and crafts summer schools is
rapidly becoming legion. Among the women who have taken an
active part in this work may be mentioned, Mrs. Albee, of
Pequaket, New Hampshire, and Crawfordville, Indiana; Mr. and
Mrs. Douglass Volk, at Center Lovell, Maine; Susan Chester
Lyman, at the log cabin settlement, near Asheville, North
Carolina; Mrs. Van Briggle, Miss Laughlin (the two latter being
porcelain workers), and Ellen Gates Starr, the noted bookbinder.
Fifteen years ago the university
extension movement aroused institutions everywhere to send their
teachers out among the people to direct their reading and help
them in every way toward mental advancement. Three years before
the university extension movement, there was organized in
Philadelphia an experiment which had its beginning in western
Massachusetts. This is what is known as The Home Culture Club,
Northampton offered an unusual setting for this enterprise,
being a long established New England town, dignified, and always
ready for anything in the line of education. Its location
especially offered this, being within a radius of a few miles of
the best educational institutions of the country, Smith College,
said to be the largest woman's college in the world; Mount
Holyoke with a long and honorable history; Amherst, one of the
best of the smaller colleges; Williston Seminary; the Byrnham
School; the Clark Institute for Deaf Mutes, and the New
Agricultural College of Northampton. Here Mr. George W. Cable
found a most favorable environment when he came from the South
to make his home in the North in 1885. With his well-known
reputation in literature and intense interest in social and
industrial problems, he began to look about for what was most
needed in his new neighbor-hood. He concluded that what had been
most detrimental to the rapid progress of democracy was class
distinction. In any private effort to elevate the masses of this
country, at least, class treatment is out of the question. In
breaking down these class distinctions, Mr. Cable proposed to
call the home into immediate requisition, and he repeatedly
said, "The private home is the public hope,'' and it was his
idea to make the home the beginning and the end of his
philosophy of popular education.
In the autumn of 1887 he brought a few
of his friends together and submitted for discussion a scheme
for the organization of a Home Culture Club in every home that
would consent, the club to consist of the members of the family
and of such neighbors as would come to a weekly meeting in one
home or another to read and talk together. From discussion, he
went to action, and during the first year there were twenty of
these clubs in successful operation in Northampton. A public
reading room was opened at a central point to give men and boys
habitually on the street a glimpse, at least, of a rudimentary
home. Casual reading began to turn into serious study, and
classes were formed under direction of the Smith College
students, who have always been Mr. Cable's constant helpers.
These clubs multiplied throughout the state, and in 1898 they
numbered throughout the land ninety-one, and the membership was
six hundred and fifty, with a total attendance of nearly fifteen
thousand. Since then they have been rapidly increased. Some of
them are self-supporting, and some have been the recipients of
generous donations from philanthropic people.
Both in the business and educational
conduct of the Northampton clubs, Mr. Cable has had almost from
the first the valuable help of Mrs. Adelaide Moffatt, the
general secretary. At least once a year she visits all the club
members in their homes, takes a personal interest in their
attendance and keeping up their interest in the work. She has
been assisted by a great number of women from Smith College and
a council of one hundred and twenty-five women residents of
Northampton. Mr. Carnegie generously donated fifty thousand
dollars toward the erection of the club house for this work. But
while these substantial gifts have come from men, the actual
carrying on of this splendid work has been entirely done by
women, largely college women, throughout the country, and is
only another of the many different avenues of work along
educational lines being conducted in this country by our women.
The Washington Travel Club was organized
in the Strathmore Arms, the home of Mary S. Lockwood, in
January, 1880. Judge Lysander Hill, Frank Eastman, Mrs. Sara
Dean, Miss Emily Brigham and Mary S. Lockwood, arranged for the
first meeting. The officers were to be a "guide," to preside at
the meetings; a "courier," whose duty it was to secure speakers
and readers; a "journalist," to keep a record of their travels,
and an "executive committee" to form the itinerary and choose
the subjects for papers, and a music committee. One notable
feature of the club in its organization was the determination to
have no exercises of a miscellaneous character, no recitations,
reading, declarations, or literary fireworks of any kind.
Every Monday night during the winter
months, for sixteen years, this club was sustained with
unflagging interest Different countries were selected from year
to year, papers read and the addresses given upon all subjects
connected with the chosen country.
The home of this club was historic
inasmuch as it had been the home of many distinguished people:
General and Mrs. John A. Logan, Senator Edmunds, Judge Harlan,
Senator Ingalls, Senator Farwell, Governor Boutwell, Thomas B.
Reed, Governor Carpenter, of Iowa, Judge Ezra B. Taylor, Senator
Fry, of Maine, and hosts of others, including members and
Among the noted people who entertained
the club with instructive papers through these years were:
General Logan, George Kennan, Olive Logan, Senor Romero, Dr.
Chickering, Hon. A. R. Spofford, Hon. and Mrs. John W. Foster,
Mrs. J. C. Burrows, Dr. Charles Knight, Dr. Gregory, Dr.
Presbery, Judge Hayden, Professor Burgess, Mr. Fox, Minister to
Russia and scores of the literary lights belonging to the club
The club's first journeys were through
Egypt, where they traveled from near and from far without
carriage or car. They went up the Nile, through the plains of
Palestine, over the hills of Judea, among the Pyramids of Egypt
and into the buried cites of Persia. They were given a fair
understanding of the geography, biography, government, military,
art, religion, literature, ornamental and practical art, common
people and history of the country through which they traveled.
One of the first papers presented while
the club was in Egypt was by the late General John A. Logan,
upon military art in that country. It was wonderful in research,
beautiful in expression and abounded in interesting data. When
asked where he got all his information he replied. "I have had
no book in my hand but the Bible."
Such experiences only whetted the
appetites of the travelers, and the executive committee, guide,
and courier then planned the trip for "around the world," which
was carried out.
The Woman's National
The Woman's National Press Association
is the oldest organization of its kind in the world and one of
the earliest of women's clubs. The Association is national
having members in nearly every state in the Union; also in
England and the Philippine Islands.
The first president was Mrs. Emily
Briggs, "Olivia." At the close of her term Mrs. M. D. Lincoln
was made president, followed by Mary S. Lockwood, Mrs. Hannah B.
Sperry, Mrs. E. S. Cromwell, Mrs. Belva A. Lockwood and Mrs.
Peeler. The club has a membership of over one hundred. It has
had such names among its members as Mrs. Lippincott, "Grace
Greenwood"; Miss Mary F. Foster; Mrs. E. M. S. Marble; Mrs.
Clara B. Colby; Mrs. E. D. N. Southworth; Mrs. Olive Logan; Miss
Prominent speakers have addressed the
association including such names as Hon. Theodore Roosevelt; Dr.
William T. Powell, Geologist; Charles M. Pepper; Dr. Sheldon
Jackson; C. K. Berryman, Cartoonist; Lillian Whiting; the late
Professor Wm. Harkness; Professor Robert T. Hill; Dr. B. L.
Whitman; Hon. Frank Mondell; Frank G. Carpenter; Ainsworth R.
Spofford; Mrs. May Wright Sewall; Mrs. Ellen M. Henrotin;
members of the United States Congress and many prominent
journalists. In December, 1894, the Woman's National Press
Association issued the call for the formation of a federated
organization of Women's Clubs in the District of Columbia.
The Woman's National
and Harbors Congress
By Mary M. North
The Woman's National Rivers and Harbors
Congress is as truly a patriotic organization as any that
exists, for it is built upon the never-dying principle of love
of country. The organization came into existence through the
efforts of a few women in Shreveport, Louisiana, June 29, 1908.
Three women of that city were made officers, Mrs. Hoyle Tomkies,
president; Mrs. Frances Shuttleworth, recording secretary, and
Mrs. A. B. Avery, corresponding secretary. The object of the
organization, which works hand in hand with that of The National
Rivers and Harbors Congress, fostered by the leading men of the
nation, is to secure for our posterity the conservation of all
our natural resources, and in particular to preserve and develop
two of the greatest, waterways and forests, for it has been said
by an eminent scientist, "no forests, no rivers."
The number of members at the time of
organization was seven, and in about a year there was enrolled
through individual and club membership, more than twenty-two
thousand, and this because the object of the association is so
vital. At the first convention held in Washington, D. C, which
had a fine representation. The National Rivers and Harbors
Congress' Bill was endorsed, which called for an annual
appropriation from Congress of fifty million dollars for ten
years for waterway improvement, instead of a wasteful policy of
appropriating small sums biennially for this purpose. The
Woman's National Rivers and Harbors Congress is having
conservation taught in the public schools.
At the meeting held last December, in
Washington, D. C, the following officers were elected to serve
two years: President, Mrs. A. Barton Miller, Charleston, S. C.;
First Vice-President, Mrs. Herbert Knox Smith, Washington, D.
C.; Second Vice-President, Mrs. F. H. Newell, Washington, D. C.;
Corresponding Secretary, Mrs. Elmer G. Laurence, Cincinnati,
Ohio; Recording Secretary, Mrs. Mary M. North, Snow Hill,
Maryland; Treasurer, Mrs. William Brison, Muscogee, Oklahoma;
Auditor, Mrs. H. R. Whiteside, Louisville, Kentucky;
Vice-Presidents-at-large, Mrs. Hoyle Tomkies, Shreveport,
Louisiana; Mrs. E. A. Housman, Brookfield Center, Connecticut;
Mrs. de B. Randolph Keim, Reading, Pennsylvania.
Alabama: Mrs. J. W.
Hunter, 619 Lauderdale St, Selma,
Arkansas: Mrs. Marshall H. Patterson, Augusta,
California: Mrs. Lowell White, 2245 Sacramento
St, San Francisco.
Colorado: Mrs. D. W. Collins, Pueblo.
Delaware: Mrs. Geo. W. Marshall, Milford.
Hawaii: Mrs. B. J. Dillingham, Honolulu.
Idaho: Mrs. E. C. Atwood, Hailey.
Illinois: Mrs. Fred Bowes 1542 Adams St., West
Indiana: Mrs. Virginia Sharpe-Patterson, 505 E.
Mulberry St, Kokomo.
Kentucky: Miss Mary Lafon, 1337 Fourth St,
Maine: Mrs. Joseph M. Strout, 83 Pleasant Ave.,
Maryland: Mrs. Emma D. Crockett, Pocomoke City.
Massachusetts: Mrs. Theodore C. Bates, 29
Missouri: Mrs. John H. Curran, 816 Wright
Building, St Louis.
New Jersey: Mrs. J. E. Sudderley, 11 Columbia
New Hampshire: Mrs. J. H. Dearborn, Suncock.
New York: Mrs. William Cumming Story, 119 E.
19th St, New York City.
North Dakota: Mrs. J. J. Robson, Langdon.
North Carolina: Mrs. R J. Hale, Fayetteville.
Oklahoma: Mrs. Lilah D. Lindsay, Tulsa.
Oregon: Mrs. Robert Lutke, 301 N. 24th St.,
Ohio: Mrs. J. F. Ellison, 2327 Ashland Ave.
Pennsylvania: Mrs. Thomas M. Rees, 225 Negley
Rhode Island: Mrs. Richard Jackson Barker, The
South Carolina: Mrs. Reid Whitford, 164
Rutledge St., Charleston
South Dakota: Miss Marjorie M. Breeden, 910
Euclid St., Pierre
Tennessee: Mrs. Eugene Crutcher, 817 Lischey
Texas: Mrs. J. W. Dosemus, Bryan
Virginia: Miss Katharine Stuart, 719 King St.,
Washington: Mrs. Charles B. Dunning, 1238 South
Wall Street, Spokane
West Virginia: Mrs. Guy R. C. Allen Wheeling
"The organization has for its object the
development of the meritorious waterways and harbors, the
preservation of the forests, and the conservation of all the
natural resources of the nation. It stands for the establishment
by the Federal Government of a definite waterway policy for the
improvement of all approved rivers and harbors of the entire
country, also for the adoption of such a policy as will secure
not only forest reserves, but general forest development."
The slogan is "Together for Permanent
Source: The Part Taken by Women in
American History, By Mrs. John A. Logan, Published by The Perry-Nalle
Publishing Company, Wilmington, Delaware, 1912.