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Womens Clubs

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WOMEN'S CLUBS. Organizations of women which originated after the Civil War as an out come of the new demand for cooperation and popular education, and which from 1880 to MO became a characteristic feature of woman's ac tivity. Previous to the nineteenth century asso ciations of women were practically unknown. The first in the States were for religious and charitable purposes, such as the Female Society for the Relief and Employment of the Poor (1798), church societies auxiliary to men's asso ciations, female Bible societies, the American Female Guardian Society (1834), and the Daugh ters of Temperance (1840-50). The organizations whieh arose during the Civil War—the Sanitary Commission, the Woman's Loyal League, the Freedmen's Burean—showed women what they could do. After the war, eeonoinic changes long at work had freed the energies of a large class of women for new work. In 1868 Mrs. Croly founded Sorosis (q.v.). This gave the impulse for other clubs. The Woman's Club of Brooklyn was organized in 1869-70. The Association for the Advancement of Women, organized in New York in 1873, decided to stimulate the formation of (ulls. Simultaneously with Sorosis the New England Woman's Club was started by Mrs. C. N. Severance, but with the cooperation of men. A horticultural school for girls, a cooperative building association, and a registry for higher employment were undertaken in addition to literary programmes. Mrs. Julia Ward Howe and ?Ars. Ednah D. Cheney were prominent members. A correspondence with other clubs was started in 1888. Even older than these large clubs was the pioneer of the reading circle type—the Friends in Council of Quincy, Ill. (1S66). Many clubs have grown nut of reading circles and classes.

Women's clubs usually are incorporated, and are self-governing and self-supporting. Fees are low in comparison with men's clubs, and the aim is to he democratic. The work of clubs may be summed up as: (I) Educational through classes in history, art, economies. literature;

readings, preparation for travel, lectures, and preparation of papers; (2) Social: teas and receptions for prominent once and women, and at homes; (3) Practical: (a) originating and aid ing all kinds of philanthropic movements; (b) civic betterment, sanitary, artistic, and political; (c) educational, for fostering schools, libraries, art galleries, kindergartens, vacation schools, and scholarships for women; (d) the promoting of laws for the benefit of women and children—factory inspection, child labor, age of eonsent, police matrons, tenement houses and parks. Women's clubs have started special asso ciations—Housekeepers' Alliance, Legal Aid So cieties, Free Bath and Sanitary Leagues; and they have worked with religions associations to aid public schools. An interesting development in Western cities—notably Chippewa Falls, Wis., and Albert Lea, Minn.—is the establishment of town rest rooms fur farmers' wives.

There was no effort to unite the various clubs until 1889, when delegates from sixty-one clubs met. in New York in response to an invitation from Sorosis, \\Adel) wished to observe its twenty first anniversary. At a convention in 1891) the General Federation of Women's Clubs was formed. The Federation began with 63 clubs in seventeen Slates. The Woman's Cycle, which was started in September, 1889, published a di rectory of clubs. Ala ny club women were inter ested in the Woman's Department at the World's Fair, in club exhibits, and ill the man agement of different congresses. ()et of 5977 speakers et the Fair 1417 were women. The Woman's Congress of Representative Women and the Federation met at the Fair. Biennial meet ings of the Federation are held in large cities. Until 1894 the Federation was composed of in dividual (dubs. At that time the State Federa tion appeared. There were in 1903 4 district federations, 39 State federations, and 763 clubs representing 211,703 women. The question of admitting colored women's clubs has arisen.

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