Part of the American History & Genealogy Project

Introduction to Club Section


By Mrs. C. M. Severance, "The Mother of Clubs."

Beloved Club- Women of the Country

I rejoice heartily at being in touch with each and all of you, through this friendly introduction, you, who not having seen en masse, I love with sincere regard and affection.

I rejoice unceasingly in the ever-growing acceptance of your new opportunities and duties and in the superb outlook for your future. One of my favorite prophecies is that nothing is impossible to organized womanhood united in aim and effort.

My faith in woman became so great that my zeal took flame, and led me into the early effort toward making my enchanted dream come true on reaching my "Mecca" at Boston in 1855. I felt there best could such a dream come true, as Bronson Alcott assented on his visits to Cleveland, before our family removed to Boston, with the warning, however, that it would not be easy to gather the literary and progressive women from their various circled suburbs and churches. But the hope was still hidden in a warm corner of my heart, and after the Civil War had made many of these women friends and co-workers, who had served their country and homes as valiantly and at as great cost, in sending their husbands and sons to the chances of the battlefield, as their brothers!

The time then seemed ripe for the new venture of comradeship and service through organization. This comradeship and service had hitherto been exercised in efforts outside the home, only in the various sewing circles, Dorcas Societies, study classes and the like, covering some one single, definite purpose; but the idea of discussion and action upon the broader lines of civic interests vitally affecting the home, developed in the organization of the New England Woman's Club, the first in this country, at Boston, in 1868. The Sorosis, at New York, on somewhat the same lines, being founded almost simultaneously, as a result of the refusal of the Men's Press Club to recognize the Women's Press Club of that city on the visit of Dickens to this country. Our well-known and zealous friend, Kate Field, of New York, author and journalist, had visited Boston, and reported our organization as already founded there.

The title of ''Mother of Clubs" given to the little book compiled by a sympathetic friend, who had sifted the data and felt warranted in using the title, has been somewhat challenged; but the facts and the records given by Mrs. Croly, in her "History of the Club Movement in America," are its justification; and the innumerable heartfelt acknowledgments by pen and voice of the uplift of club life are a precious benediction to me, and recall the poet's lines:

"What I long to be and was not, comforts me."
Faithfully yours, (Signed) Madame C. M. Severance.
For God to do His will? Thou art His instrument; go forth. And thine own wish fulfill.


From Mrs. C. M. Severance

I honor most heartily the loyalty to womanhood which has prompted our friend, Mrs. John A. Logan, to undertake this chronicle, at the cost of so much strength and energy.

The women who have come into prominence as rulers have had their due records in history, the women of unusual charm, beauty or wit and woman, as a class, has been sung by the poets from time immemorial. But the achievements of these other women have not been sympathetically recorded, the woman who has given to the world sons whom she nurtured for useful citizenship, given even with heartbreak to the risks of the battlefield which she abhorred; and yielded the daughters of her tenderest love and companionship to the risks of another's ownership and protection, thus serving the state in these invaluable and indispensable ways.

These women are at last seeking the ballot, as the badge of citizenship, and the needed protection of the home and the beloved children when leaving her care for the outside world, so often made cruel under the present competitive system. These women have had mention, but have been suspected and shunned for taking these practical steps towards the broader helpfulness. But let us be of good cheer! Woman is rapidly coming into her fuller heritage, thanks to the braver chronicler, such as Mrs. Logan.
(Signed) Madame C. M. Severance

Women of America

Source: The Part Taken by Women in American History, By Mrs. John A. Logan, Published by The Perry-Nalle Publishing Company, Wilmington, Delaware, 1912.


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