Women's Organizations, 1880s-1930 or
"Unsexed Termagants . . . Help the World Along"1
By Barbara J. Howe
By the late nineteenth century, women were organizing for myriad reasons, in literary clubs and insurance societies, in temperance unions and patriotic organizations. Clubs provided an opportunity for women to unite for a common purpose, to effect change in a society that long denied them political rights, to socialize, and to gain financial assistance. Women from the smallest communities in the country were linked with those in the largest through shared rituals, publications, and conventions as they worked for an agenda that included issues usually designated as "women's concerns," such as protecting health and home, promoting education, and transmitting values and culture. Annual reports, convention proceedings, minutes, occasional membership lists, community histories, city directories, anniversary histories, and memoirs are among the sources available to document the dreams and achievements of these clubs.
As Alexis de Tocqueville noted, and as historians are fond of quoting, Americans seem to have a propensity toward voluntary association. In Democracy in America, de Tocqueville wrote that "Americans of all ages, all conditions, and all dispositions, constantly form associations. . . . If it be proposed to inculcate some truth, or to foster some feeling by the encouragement of a great example, they form a society." He continued: ". . . I have often admired the extreme skill with which the inhabitants of the United States succeed in proposing a common object to the exertions of a great many men, and in inducing them voluntarily to pursue it." Decades later, at the end of the nineteenth century, Mrs. J. C. Croly, chronicler of the General Federation of Woman's Clubs, noted that in the nineteenth century the woman's club "became at once, without deliberate intention or concerted action, a light-giving and seed-sowing centre of purely altruistic and democratic activity."2
Urban women organized into clubs to deal with issues like prostitution and care of the elderly in the early nineteenth century, but these were basically local and isolated efforts.3 The first efforts to organize women on a broad geographical basis were the women's antislavery societies that formed in the decades before the Civil War, and the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, to protect George Washington's home, which attempted to unite women in both North and South on behalf of a common cause.
Between 1870 and 1930, many major women's organizations were formed on the national level, including most of those examined here. Nor was this an isolated movement, as increased opportunities for higher education for women, growing interest in suffrage, and new career openings converged in the 1890s with the debut of the "New Woman" eager to challenge previous restrictions on women's sphere but still cognizant of the fact that she was responsible for safeguarding the country's morals. At the same time, massive immigration during the late- nineteenth and early twentieth centuries encouraged some native-born Americans to cling more tightly to their identity as "real Americans" through the formation of patriotic societies, while immigrants sought support from their compatriots in adjusting to a new country by forming associations.4 Reform activity, an important agenda item for some women's clubs, flourished during the Progressive Era but became less visible after World War I. By 1930, the country's attention was focused on the Depression, with less money available for club activity.
The period of this study also encompasses an important transition in West Virginia, which was struggling to recover from the Civil War and establish its new identity as a state in 1870. By 1930, the state was beginning to feel the effects of the Depression severely, and some club records reflect members' concerns for the less fortunate.
Limited space and sources make it impossible to document the work of every women's club, or even every type of club, in West Virginia. Those selected for study here represent major national women's organizations, such as the General Federation of Women's Clubs and Pythian Sisters, which were active throughout the state. They also were organizations for which records were available in a public repository. While this may seem initially to be an easy method of selection, it is important to note that women's clubs operating solely on the local level probably kept their records in the hands of their members, if they kept records at all. State organizations were more likely than local chapters to be aware of the need to deposit records in an archives, and it is those annual reports and histories that are located most easily. Finally, some organizations, such as secret Greek letter sororities, would deliberately keep most records within the group, closed to outsiders.
In several cases, membership lists provide an opportunity to identify the women who belonged to these clubs. Apparently, members of reform clubs generally held slightly higher positions on the social ladder than those who belonged to the sororal and benevolent clubs, a reflection that these women had the resources to be concerned with more than the immediate needs of their families. However, few membership lists were available to permit checking for overlapping memberships among club women. Even if lists were available, it can be difficult to track women: is Susan Smith the same person as Mrs. John Smith on another list? or is she the woman who married and is listed as Mrs. John Jones (Susan) a few years later?
The clubs discussed here can be divided into two types: those that focused on some type of reform activity and those that existed primarily as sororal and benevolent organizations. Both certainly provided companionship and a sense of identity and belonging for members, but the programs of the reform clubs were more often directed outward into the community, while those of the benevolent organizations were directed toward the concerns of their own members. Absent from this discussion are political clubs, farm women's organizations, and church women's organizations, all of which deserve separate consideration. "Reform clubs" was not a contemporary label, but the organizations so classified here focused much of their agenda on issues that they felt would improve life for their immediate family, city, or the community of nations. There are no formulas to apply in categorizing these clubs, except to say that they relied less on ritual than did sororal organizations and did not provide financial benefits for their members.
The first large national "reform club" for women, the Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), grew out of the "woman's crusade" that swept the country in 1873-74. Quickly becoming the country's largest women's organization, it also organized women around the world. The WCTU's greatest strength was its ability to organize at the local level.
Wheeling women were apparently the first in the state to organize for temperance. The 1877 Wheeling city directory lists the Ladies' Temperance Union, while the Ladies' Temperance Band was cited in the 1880 directory. It is unclear whether these women were organizing in response to the national WCTU's efforts, but they did precede WCTU organizing at the state level in West Virginia. The state's WCTU began at an Interstate Convention meeting in Mountain Lake, Maryland, from August 31 to September 5, 1883; representatives from nine West Virginia and Maryland cities attended. The first local union was organized later that year by Frances Willard and Jennie Smith. The first state convention was held in 1884 in Parkersburg, with Willard as a special guest; "the women marched down Market Street stopping to pray for those engaged in the liquor traffic." By that time, there were unions in seven West Virginia cities.5
The state WCTU adhered closely to the goals of the national organization. For example, the WCTU was interested in the problems of prison reform and the status of women offenders as early as the 1880s. Indeed, this was the first nontemperance issue for the WCTU.6 Members visited jails, almshouses, and prisons to get inmates to sign temperance pledges. Women in West Virginia, and across the country, delivered thousands of pages of temperance literature annually to those in prison. By 1924, the WCTU was working on the national level to get an "Industrial Home for Federal women prisoners'"; this would eventually be the Alderson prison in West Virginia, which opened in 1928.7
Like the national WCTU, the WVWCTU worked for a wide variety of causes related to health, both personal and public. In 1911, the state convention condemned the use of tobacco and, especially, cigarettes, asking the boards of education for schools at all levels '"to employ no teacher who uses tobacco'." To prevent the spread of tuberculosis, the WCTU also wanted ordinances against spitting strongly enforced. These ordinances required "no spitting" signs on public streetcars and, later, buses.8
The WCTU created a Department of Franchise in 1882, but it was not until 1900 that the WVWCTU adopted a resolution in favor of suffrage. In 1916, delegates at the state convention pledged their support for the Suffrage Amendment on the ballot for the general election in November. In that election, voters overwhelmingly rejected suffrage. But WVWCTU members were eventually successful when the Federal Woman Suffrage Amendment was adopted at a special legislative session held on February 27, 1920.9
As pressure for prohibition increased in West Virginia, the WVWCTU agreed to cooperate with the Anti-Saloon League in 1903 on a prohibition bill before the state legislature. Although the legislature rejected statewide prohibition, it allowed local option to ban liquor. By 1910, thirty- seven of the state's fifty-five counties were "dry," or prohibited the sale of liquor. Even though they could not vote, WVWCTU women were active poll workers on November 5, 1912 when, by a majority of 92,342 votes, West Virginia men ratified the Prohibition Amendment to the state constitution; this took effect July I, 1914.10
Like most women's groups, the WVWCTU supported the country's efforts during World War I. The women raised money to support French families and orphans, made wash mitts for the Red Cross, and sent comfort bags to the men on the USS West Virginia. The national WCTU also promoted the war effort and worked to "Americanize" immigrants in large cities during the war. Mottos such as "Bar the barley from the bar and bake it into bread" exemplified the national WCTU efforts during the war.11
There were, however, some national WCTU issues that were not apparently very relevant to West Virginia members. Americanization merits few references in the history of the WVWCTU, except in Morgantown. A comparatively high foreign-born population of 10 percent in Monongalia County apparently stirred Morgantown's WCTU members to promote assimilation. While the foreign-born population was almost as high in Marshall, Marion, and Ohio counties, the only reference to Americanization work was in Morgantown, possibly because Morgantown's chapter had its own Community Building that served as the Americanization Center.12
West Virginia's WCTU grew throughout the 1920s. By 1927, there were seventy-eight unions in the state and 6,290 members. But, even before federal prohibition ended, membership began to decline. With the onset of the Depression, members could no longer afford the dues. Once the decline started, it became an avalanche. By 1938, the WVWCTU had only seven hundred members.13
While the WCTU had no restrictions on membership, other than interest in the cause, other women's groups were not as open. The Association of Collegiate Alumnae (ACA) was founded by Marion Talbot of Boston University in 1882 to serve the needs of the first generation of college-educated women in the United States. While co-education was becoming increasingly common, and even graduate and professional schools were opening to women, there was no national organization for these alumnae. In addition, while the doors were open, there was no strong support network for women students once admitted, and the students were forced to rely on peer support. Graduation was a traumatic experience for many because, aside from teaching, the American economy did not have many openings for college-educated women.
Talbot announced that the organizational goals were to assist the intellectual growth of members, help raise the standards of female education and, equally important, to preserve the sense of camaraderie that existed among the women during their college years. To join, prospective members had to have graduated from an institution specially approved by the ACA. The ACA's approval system depended on an institution's quality of instruction, treatment of women students, and role of women on the faculty. Members hoped that the carrot of accreditation would encourage schools to improve women's education, but there is little evidence that this happened. In spite of the objections of the Huntington branch, the ACA changed its name to the American Association of University Women (AAUW) in April 1921. Not until 1963 were graduates of all accredited colleges and universities admitted as members of the AAUW.14
The first group of collegiate alumnae in West Virginia organized in Huntington on October 12, 1908, with Lucy Prichard as first president. During 1909-10, the group became an official branch of the ACA. Programs in the early years reflected the common concerns of women's reform clubs: raising funds to provide young women money for college, a program on certified milk, "spontaneous talks on 'the woman's movement of the day'," and promoting the registration of births by a "house to house canvas to compile statistics." To increase membership, West Virginia's institutions of higher education had to be accredited. During 1916-17, the group wrote to West Virginia University President Frank Trotter "concerning its ineligibility to the list of accredited colleges prepared by the American Association of Universities," thereby making its women graduates ineligible for membership in the ACA.15
As the United States entered World War I, the Huntington women joined the national effort to support "our boys." The threat of venereal disease was a major source of concern during the war, and the Huntington branch sent a resolution to its Congressman '"regarding protection of soldier boys from disease & vice while in training camp'." At the same rime, members purchased twenty pamphlets from the American Social Hygiene Association to distribute to other women's organizations in the city for distribution to soldiers and, perhaps, to publicize their own work. During 1917-18, recognizing that soldiers needed wholesome recreation and companionship, the branch paid for subscriptions to Literary Digest to two camps. They also identified Huntington men in military camps around the country and sent the names of these men to the national ACA headquarters; in turn, the women at headquarters distributed the names to ACA branches close to the camps "'so as to introduce these men to a bit of social life among college women'." In addition, the group sent presents, including a first communion outfit, to their French orphan, participated in the fourth Liberty Loan Drive, and collected money for the Jewish War Fund and United War Work Drive.16
During the 1918-19 year, the Huntington branch urged the local board of education to employ "'special teachers for sub-normal children and the establishment of an open air school for anaemic [sic] children and children having a tendency toward tuberculosis'." The next year, members voted to sign a petition backing equal suffrage and endorsed plans for a local YWCA.17
True to its purpose of promoting college education opportunities, members were pleased to receive President Trotter's letter in October 1921, indicating that West Virginia University had met the requirements for admission to the AAUW. This was the first West Virginia school to be so designated and provided a critical mass of eligible AAUW members to form additional branches.18 It also undoubtedly helped spur the Huntington branch to call together representatives of the existing branches on November 17, 1923 in Huntington to organize the state division of AAUW under the leadership of Lucy Prichard. Morgantown, Fairmont, and Parkersburg branches, all organized in 1923, joined Huntington as the charter members of the division.
During the 1920s, branch members organized study groups on international relations, the pre- school child, world peace, the public school curriculum, drama, and the elementary school child. There seems to have been little in the way of a national AAUW agenda for local branches to follow, but West Virginia members "loyally supported" the national Headquarters Fund and Fellowship Fund. At the branch level, they raised money for local scholarship funds, contributed books to local libraries, and worked to get additional colleges and normal schools added to the list of approved AAUW institutions. The division also sent delegates to the Conference on the Causes and Cure of War. The division felt its most important accomplishment, however, was its successful effort to have the state of West Virginia build Elizabeth Moore Hall as the women's building on the West Virginia University campus. By May 1929, "over 460 college-bred women" belonged to the West Virginia Division, constituting, they believed, "a force of incalculable potency."19 Two years later, the effects of the Depression were evident, as club after club noted the effect of bank failures on its financial status. Still, the division historian took pride in the fact that the branches' accomplishments showed "clearly that noblesse oblige and that the aristocracy of intellect has justified its existence by deeds of altruism and of service."20
By virtue of being college-educated women, AAUW members were at least middle-class in status. A membership list for the Morgantown branch about 1923-24 included 106 women. Of these, one-fourth had careers in education or were married to those who did: at least fourteen were faculty or staff members at West Virginia University, and thirteen taught in the city's grade or high schools. Members' husbands were also faculty at West Virginia University, teachers, attorneys, clergy, and businessmen. Four of the single women lived in the WCTU's Community Building, which included lodging facilities for single women.21
In 1889, seven years after the ACA was established, members of the first modern woman's club, Sorosis, decided to celebrate their twenty-first birthday by calling a convention of women's clubs from throughout the country, providing the foundation for the General Federation of Woman's Clubs (GFWC), established in New York City in 1890. More diverse in its agenda than the WCTU and less restrictive in membership than the ACA, the GFWC appealed to women around the country, but no West Virginia club was listed in its first "Directory of Clubs" published in 1891.
West Virginia's first documented women's clubs were the Four O'clock Club of Point Pleasant and the Woman's Club of Morgantown, both organized in 1892. In 1902, the General Federation of Woman's Clubs appointed two "General Federation Secretaries for West Virginia." They issued a call to the state's clubs to meet in Wheeling in 1904 to form a state federation; the fifteen clubs unanimously decided to join the GFWC. On May 6, 1904, the GFWC accepted the West Virginia Federation of Women's Clubs (WVFWC) as its forty-fifth state federation.22
Throughout its existence, the GFWC's member clubs have pursued a wide range of activities, and West Virginia's clubs have followed suit. The GFWC's Industrial Committee, created in 1896, worked "to improve the condition of both women and children in industry" and later campaigned against child labor. In 1907, the WVFWC's Child Labor Committee investigated glass manufacturers and other industries employing children. The committee's report to the press and to the U.S. Labor Commissioner documented that the child labor laws were not being enforced.23
In 1898, the GFWC's Household Economics section recommended '"the study of household economics in as thorough and systematic a manner as was already devoted to the study of history, art or literature'." During the 1908-10 national club biennium, the Home Economics Committee pushed for the establishment of home economics courses in the public schools. In 1912-13, as president of the WVFWC, Julia Walker Ruhl encouraged the establishment of "short schools of Domestic Science in connection with the Schools of Agriculture in the rural districts."24 Supporting the Cooperative Extension Service established by the Smith-Lever Act in 1914, the GFWC encouraged the appointment of home economics agents in each county to educate rural women during its 1922-24 biennium. In 1924, the federation established an American Home Department as a "new declaration of faith in the home's importance as an industry and as a social institution."25 The WVFWC pledged its support to this new department during the 1924 state convention. Art was one of the earliest interests of the WVFWC, and several of the GFWC's traveling galleries visited West Virginia in 1907-08 under the auspices of the WVFWC.26 The Morgantown Woman's Club had a separate Art Department by 1925. Programs featured papers on the fine arts and a few papers that leaned toward domestic science; for example, one presentation on the necessity of art education stressed using this knowledge to select clothing, arrange furniture, and choose pictures for the home to enrich the "spiritual insight of children."27 Perhaps those programs were meant to complement the GFWC's interest in the home in the 1920s. Certainly, they reinforced traditional ideas that women's interests centered on the home and family.
Women's clubs also actively worked to establish free public libraries. In 1904-05, West Virginia clubwomen maintained two traveling libraries "'to be sent to remote mining or country districts'." By 1908-09, the state's clubwomen supported sixteen such libraries and urged the creation of a State Library Commission until its establishment in 1929. When it became difficult to keep track of the traveling libraries, the WVFWC, apparently with some relief, turned them over to the West Virginia University Library in 1914. The traveling libraries were undoubtedly used to encourage public opinion to support a permanent library, and West Virginia federation members continued to work for local public libraries. Establishing a reading room and library, for instance, was one of the first concerns of the Woman's Civic Club of Clarksburg when it organized in 1906, but it was not until 1930 that a permanent location was secured.28
During World War I, the GFWC promoted food conservation, pushed for the establishment of an Army Nurses Corps, and sold Liberty Bonds. The WVFWC members reputedly did 75 percent of the volunteer work accomplished by West Virginia women to support the war effort. They chaired committees on "War Savings, Home Service, Liberty Loan, Conservation, [and] Council of Defense," gave club programs on the nations at war and the war's progress, sent "care packages" to soldiers and knitted for them, and learned to conserve food by gardening and canning.29
The GFWC work supports historian Karen Biair's conclusion that clubwomen were social activists.30 They spoke out for peace, urging international arbitration as an alternative to war; supported federal aid for education, particularly vocational education; endorsed the creation of a Bureau of National Parks; supported Americanization programs; promoted good roads; disapproved of women smoking or children being given or sold cigarettes; and, important for West Virginians, pushed for the creation of the federal women's prison at Alderson, which opened in 1928.
The final national women's organization to be considered under the topic of "reform club" is the National Society, Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR). It may be debatable whether the Daughters of the American Revolution can be considered as a reform club. However, when one examines their agenda, it is clear that the members, albeit carefully selected by virtue of their ancestors, had their own vision of a better community that they worked hard to achieve. Unfortunately, this agenda is not well known today.
West Virginia's first state regent was appointed in 1893, three years after the NSDAR was organized. However no organizational work was attempted by the first two regents, who served from 1893 to 1901. The first West Virginia chapter was organized in 1899, and the first report to the national Continental Congress was made in 1902. The first state conference was held in November 1906. It was not until the fourth state conference, in 1909, that the West Virginia DAR (WVDAR) established by-laws to govern the state conference, decided on a state pin, and established a nominating committee. DAR members followed the guidelines of the national organization faithfully and participated in almost all NSDAR committee work.31
At the third state conference, in Point Pleasant in October 1908, West Virginia DAR members followed the NSDAR mandate to mark sites related to Revolutionary War history. The Colonel Charles Lewis Chapter worked with Governor William Dawson, the federal government, and "many of the leading historians of the day" to erect a monument to commemorate the 1774 Battle of Point Pleasant as the "first battle of the Revolution." Chapter members also marked and cared for the graves of those killed in the battle and restored an old log cabin as a chapter house. Similar efforts to mark graves, battle sites, fort sites, and homes of soldiers were on the agenda for most chapters. The WVDAR members compiled lists of these sites and located them on maps for tourists. The Potomac Valley Chapter purchased and restored Fort Ashby, a French and Indian War fort built in 1755. By 1926, the DAR was also erecting tablets to honor World War I soldiers.32
Commemorating historic sites extended to the NSDAR effort to mark the National Old Trails Road. As part of this effort, the Wheeling Chapter placed four commemorative markers on the National Road in West Virginia. The NSDAR also unveiled one of its twelve "Madonna of the Trail" statues in Wheeling Park on July 7, 1928.33
World War I was a pivotal event for the DAR. During the war, West Virginia Daughters, like other club members, "with the same zeal which characterized their loyalty to the aims and purposes of the National Society," engaged in Red Cross work, bought Liberty Bonds, adopted and cared for war orphans, and otherwise answered "all calls of the government" with "loyal and generous support."34 After the war, however perhaps sobered by the years of fighting, the NSDAR President General attended the Limitation of Armament Conference held in the society's Memorial Continental Hall in November 1921. Still, DAR members were not pacifists. In 1926, the WVDAR resolved to "reiterate their unqualified support of the National Defense Act and Military Training in the Schools [ROTC], colleges and camps, also deploring the present agitation against it and the misleading presentation of the case by the agitators."35
We do know that the WVDAR felt it could best meet its goal of promoting "institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge" by helping immigrants "become enlightened, educated, patriotic American citizens."36 Members of the DAR believed that West Virginia "should stand high in 'Americanization or Americanism' " because,
We have many coal fields, steel mills, glass factories, salt works, therefore many people who come to us from other lands. These people want to become Americans, we want them to learn our language, our customs, and it behooves us to help them do this.37
Examples of the "Americanization" work by the WVDAR include the Elizabeth Ludington Hagans chapter in Morgantown which sponsored citizenship and night school classes, held naturalization courts, and distributed immigrant's manuals, copies of the American Creed, magazines and books. The Webster County Pioneers reported, in 1926, that the few Italian families were thrifty and prosperous naturalized citizens who had achieved the American dream, that is, property ownership; DAR members "established pleasant relations with them, visiting them and helping them understand American life and customs." The William Morris Chapter at Pratt-on-Kanawha had a different perspective on its Italian neighbors; that group described its work as "real missionary work. . . . Visiting the families where there is sickness or after accidents, working with the Church missionary in Sunday school and night schools"; there, the chapter chair was a "true Sister of Mercy to the needy foreigners."38
During the 1920s, the DAR worried about the influence of these foreigners on American society. Reflecting the national interest in limiting immigration and the lingering effects of the Red Scare, the DAR encouraged membership retention in 1926 because "the more members we have the greater our power and influence to defend our country against the insidious attacks of the propagandist." Americanization work allowed members to "do our part in the struggle against Bolshevism, Communism and Socialism that menace World peace." Two years later; the WVDAR conference cited "the reports on the activities of communistic forces in our state." While the activities are not detailed, they may have referred to union organizing work. On the national scene, the DAR lashed out at former suffrage leader Carrie Chapman Catt and others working with her to promote peace.39
Not all DAR work was directed toward the international scene. Conservation, for example, was also an important issue. In 1926, the WVDAR planned a Memorial Highway through the state and urged all chapters to cooperate as a "testimonial to the patriotism of the mountaineer" and a tribute to the state's war dead, in partnership with a national reforestation effort supported by the NSDAR. DAR members worked with the Isaac Walton League, Wild Life League, and Forest Life and urged farmers to plant soy beans for bird seed during the winter.40
Finally, although most chapters remained close to the national agenda when planning local activities through the years, a few chapters took on local projects. These included supporting a public library, sanitarium, historical society or providing student loan programs.
Who belonged to the WVDAR? The John Chapman Chapter in Bluefield had seventy-seven members, including associate members, listed in its 1927-28 yearbook. All were identified by their Revolutionary War ancestors. Polk's Bluefield (West Virginia) Directory, 1927-28 provides information on the occupations of fifty-two members and their husbands who were listed in the directory. Five women were identified with an occupation of their own, and only one of those could be identified as a working wife (city librarian Gertrude Oliver Dow); two of the three who were single were teachers, while the third was a principal. The last member of this group was a bookkeeper. Since Bluefield was the financial center of the Pocahontas Coalfield, it is not surprising that DAR members' husbands were officers of coal and coke companies, banks, insurance companies, and wholesale companies; attorneys; physicians; and employees of the Norfolk & Western Railway. While wives worked together through the DAR, husbands met in the board rooms of the city's businesses.41
All of the organizations' membership discussed above were overwhelmingly white at the national and state levels. Indeed, the WCTU was the only one of these groups that welcomed black women as members; there was, for example, a union for "colored people" organized in Elkins in 1930.42 In a segregated society, black women organized their own clubs, since the sense of camaraderie and shared goals that motivated white women was equally important to black women. Indeed, they may have been more important because black women had to deal with the issues of racial prejudice in addition to the normal reform causes of the clubs discussed above. Historian Gerda Lerner notes that "the work of black club women contributed to the survival of the black community." While the club leaders were, like their white counterparts, well-educated, members were better able to bridge class differences to help their poorer sisters because "they always strongly emphasized race pride and race advancement."43
The largest coordinating group for black women's clubs was the National Association of Colored Women (NACW). Organized in 1896, the NACW combined the membership of the First National Conference of Colored Women (1895), National League of Colored Women, National Federation of Afro-American Women, and over one hundred local clubs. At least one NACW member club was active in West Virginia before 1930, but, unfortunately, information about clubs for West Virginia's black women is not easily located.
The Charleston Woman's Improvement League, organized in 1898, was a member of the NACW and adopted the purpose of that group: "Lifting the morals of the Black race through education." Outstanding black leaders like Booker T. Washington and Pittsburgh Courier editor P. L. Prattis addressed the club. Projects included establishing a Mother's Club and supporting the "Girls' Home" (State Industrial Home for Colored Girls) in Huntington.44
To unite black women who were college graduates, the College Alumnae Club of Kanawha County, Inc. was organized in 1925. Although specifically for college graduates, the club's aims were not unlike those of similar organizations: " . . . . to give incentive and opportunity for individual activity and development intellectual and socially, and to enhance their influence and usefulness in the various movements for civic good."45 No specific racial concerns were addressed in the group's goals.
In addition to the women's clubs that directed their attention to social, political, or even international, issues, there was a large group of clubs that focused almost all of their attention toward the individual needs of their members. While all clubwomen benefitted, to some degree, from the network of friendships provided by membership, the members of fraternal or sororal and benevolent groups for men and women promoted these friendships even more because the purposes of these national organizations were primarily mutual aid and fellowship. The occasional foray into political and social issues was rare and not usually long-lived.
Before Social Security, company pensions, and Medicare/Medicaid, these organizations provided sick and death benefits. In what could be seen as a frivolous preoccupation with ritual, members spent much time reporting on paraphernalia. The groups also provided order; a sense of identity and sisterhood, shared secrets and mutual goals, and experience in organizing and leading others. Chapters of fraternal or sororal and benevolent groups could be found in towns throughout the country, and their lodge halls often can be identified by looking for initials such as "I.O.O.F." (International Order of Odd Fellows) or "K. of P." (Knights of Pythias) just under the cornice of a downtown building; the initials are of the men's groups, but the women often met in the same rooms at different times.
Until recently, historians have paid scant attention to fraternal and sororal organizations. Mary Ann Clawson's Constructing Brotherhood: Class, Gender, and Fraternalism is, therefore, a welcome addition to the literature. Clawson points out that, in the mid-nineteenth century, Masonic groups established honorary degrees for women in an attempt to "defuse feminine opposition to secret fraternalism and to accommodate secret fraternalism to the claims of domesticity." Inculcated with the idea that they were responsible for society's morals, women objected to the claims of Masonic groups that their members were also guardians of morality, without the assistance of women. At the end of the century, "fraternal orders were forced to accommodate to demands by women for active participation" as women began to participate in more organized public activities.46 Clawson discusses the differences between fraternal and sororal organizations through a discussion of their ritual, suggesting that women helped each other while men set up challenges.47
The earliest sororal organization for women was the Daughters of Rebekah, the auxiliary for the International Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF). This was one of the first two fraternal rituals for American women, the other being the Eastern Star. The IOOF issued identification cards to wives and widows of members as early as 1846, in an apparent attempt to help them feel they belonged to the organization. This, however, was not enough. When he organized the Daughters in 1851, Schuyler Colfax proclaimed that the Rebekah degree (or Ladies' Degree) rested
. . . on the grand principal of the Fatherhood of God, and the Brotherhood of man, recognizing the nation, the earth, and one race, mankind, governed by the injunction to deal justly and love, mercy, charity, hospitality, hope, benevolence, and friendship, are inculcated by Odd Fellowship and stand as pillars in the great temple of our order.48
However, it was not until 1868 that the IOOF officially recognized the Rebekah lodges as separate women's organizations. Over the next twenty years, the Daughters gained more authority, including the rights to select their own members, hold meetings without men present, head their own lodges, and preside over meetings. Clawson points out that, when these changes were made, it was still not common for women to speak out in public or preside over meetings, especially in mixed-sex organizations.49
Colfax, Daughters, and Odd Fellows envisioned an order for women that would encourage their domestic, traditional interests. Colfax originally suggested that the women help visit sick Odd Fellows, using their natural nurturing talents as nurses. The symbols of the organization, the beehive, moon and seven stars, and the dove, represent the feminine virtues of industriousness at home, order and the laws of nature, and innocence, gentleness, and purity, respectively.50
Perhaps because it is the oldest group, the Daughters, along with the Order of Eastern Star, were much more strongly linked to the organizational structure and purposes of the Odd Fellows than groups organized later. To join the Daughters, women had to have a husband or brother who belonged to the IOOF. Members observed elaborate rituals, with passwords, flag drills, and schools of instruction that led to "certificates of perfection in the unwritten work" for those who mastered the rituals.51
The Rebekah lodges paid a variety of benefits, which seem to have been as confusing to members in the early twentieth century as they are to researchers today. Provisions for sick benefits were a particular source of contention. Apparently neither the Rebekahs nor the Odd Fellows considered these benefits a major part of their work by the 1920s and even discussed eliminating them to return to more fraternal work.
Establishing orphans' homes was part of the national Rebekahs' agenda, and the Daughters and Odd Fellows of West Virginia were soliciting funds for their home by 1902.52 Cornerstone-laying ceremonies for the home in Elkins took place in 1908, and the home was dedicated in 1910. Henry Gassaway Davis confirmed the original purposes of the Daughters in his dedicatory speech, for he noted then that
. . . the very nature of the work to be done appeals to the open hearts and ready hands of the gentler sex. They are the hand maid of charity and aptly styled Angels of Mercy. Where sorrow and distress abide they who are Odd Fellows know how valuable are the ministrations of the Daughters of Rebekah, and how nobly they are doing their share in the amelioration of suffering and distress.53
Members actively supported their Home and its accompanying farm in Elkins by the 1920s. Elderly Odd Fellows, widows of Odd Fellows, and Daughters (called grandmas and grandpas), along with orphans of deceased brothers, lived at the Home.54
As part of a national movement, West Virginia Rebekahs contributed to a National Sanitarium. While the Daughters spent very little rime on national social issues, there are a few tantalizing clues to their priorities in the 1920s. For example, the 1927 state conference resolved to endorse the "National Kindergarten Movement." It did not, however, agree with the Association of Rebekah Assemblies' concern for organizing Girls Clubs.55 The focus on internal organization and benefits made the Daughters of Rebekah the most self-centered sororal organization studied.
The Order of Pythian Sisters was founded a quarter-century after the Daughters of Rebekah as the women's auxiliary of the Knights of Pythias (K. of P.), a fraternal organization organized after the Civil War. Like its predecessors, and dissimilar to groups like the WCTU and GFWC, the Pythian Sisters was linked to a men's organization. Members had to be "wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, half-sisters or mothers of legally adopted sons who are Knights of Pythias in good standing, and widows of deceased Knights of Pythians who were in good standing at the rime of their death."56
In the usual pattern, the order was founded by a man, in this case Joseph Addison Hill of Greencastle, Indiana, who presented the idea for a women's order to the K. of P. in 1877. Finally, in 1888, the Supreme Lodge authorized the formation of the Order of the Pythian Sisters and approved Hill's ritual. The first Pythian Sisters' temple was organized in 1888 in Indiana, and the first Grand Temple (state-level organization) was held in 1889 in Indianapolis. The first Supreme Session (national organizational meeting) was held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in July 1890.
In 1894, the Order of Pythian Sisters changed their name to Rathbone Sisters in honor of Justus H. Rathbone, founder of the Knights of Pythias, so that the "Knights were free to retain their membership." This change was made because, while "the name of 'Pythian Sisters' was very dear to every sister, . . . the Knights of Pythias were reverenced more, so, womanlike, for their sake, the change of name and sacrifice was made." It was not until 1904 that the Knights of Pythias recognized the Order of Pythian Sisters as an official organization. The order then merged with the alternative Pythian Sisterhood in 1907 as the Order of Pythian Sisters.57
The Pythian Sisters came to West Virginia with the organization of Hermion Temple No. 1 in Wheeling in August 1890. This was organized at the initiative of a K. of P. lodge in Wheeling. At first, the West Virginia temples were under the direct control of the Supreme Temple, but, in 1897, Pennsylvania and West Virginia joined to form a Grand Temple. On October 11, 1905, the West Virginia Grand Temple was organized.58
The Pythian Sisters followed the principles of "P.L.E.F." (Purity, Love, Equality, and Fidelity) to bring themselves "into closer touch with the divine Founder of Christianity Himself." Members learned that "in union there is strength and that Purity is our shield, Love our watchword, Equality is the secret to our success and Fidelity the bond that holds us together." Members wanted to "attain until perfect womanhood." The sisters worked "in our woman's way to advance the cause of Pythianism," which was defined as "perhaps" a religion and, if not that, at least "the hand-maiden of the ethics of Divine Life." Members also clearly saw themselves as tied to the success of the Knights as "all will agree that where a Pythian Sister's Temple is located, you will find a thrifty K. of P. Lodge."59
Annual reports describe the social and beneficiary activities of the local temples. The 1908 report noted that Hermion No. 1 (Wheeling) gave a public installation drill, held joint memorial services with the K. of P. lodges, and held social meetings with refreshments every two months that featured "social diversions," such as singing and dancing.
The Pythian Sisters were primarily a mutual benefit organization, helping their members when in need. During the 1907 Monongah mine disaster in Marion County, members of Pythian Temple No. 5 in nearby Fairmont "assisted the stricken sisters both financially and with their labor. Cooking for the hungry and visiting the sad and bereaved ones." Each of the seven sisters affected by the disaster received $19.75 contributed to the relief fund by fourteen temples.60 West Virginia's temples, along with the state's Knights, discussed an orphans' home as early as 1907.61 By 1909, the Grand Temple had established the Pythian Home Fund, which received annual contributions from Pythian Sisters.
As a national organization, the Pythian Sisters had joined the National Council of Women, organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony to promote suffrage, but there was no evidence of that level of social activism in the reports of West Virginia chapters.62 Local groups looked to the Supreme Temple only for benefits and questions about ritual and membership. The 1912 annual report noted that the "Supreme Temple was impressed with the report of the Committee on Altruistic Work," but this committee's work is not noted in earlier reports, nor is it clearly defined here except to say that
Much money had been expended; girls had been educated; outdoor camps had been provided for consumptives; food and clothes had been furnished for poor folk; Christmas trees provided for poor children; homes for the homeless; thousands of bouquets sent; thousands and thousands of visits made to the sick; all of which has aided in giving comfort and relief to the sorrowing.63
Each temple was encouraged to "take up at least one department of this work." The Pythian Sisters did take action on at least one social issue. At their 1912 convention, as West Virginians debated a state constitutional amendment on prohibition, the Pythian Sisters passed a resolution vowing to work "in every legitimate and Christian way in our power" for the ratification of the state prohibition amendment.64
In the final analysis, Pythian Sisters focused their attention on the home. The church and school, along with the home, were "instrumental in passing on to our children the intellectual inheritance of the race." The only other institution needed for a complete life was, of course, the Pythian Sisters. Members, therefore, criticized those who said that "the existence of Women's lodges are a menace to the home," perhaps because of the amount of time invested in attending meetings. Instead, the Pythian Sisters felt their order was "broadening the meaning of home."65
The Ladies of the Maccabees of the World was another sororal group organized on a national level. It was the women's organization for the Order of the Knights of the Maccabees of the World, founded in London, Ontario in 1873. The Knights
adopted this history of the ancient Maccabees as a basis for their ritualism because of the record of that remarkable people, led by Judas Maccabeus, in the defense of the Christian faith, and the provision which they had in their tradition for the maintenance of the widows and orphans of companions who fell in battle.66
At first, the Ladies (wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters) independently managed their benefits and other funds but still served as an auxiliary to the Knights.
On October 1, 1892, the Ladies of the Maccabees of the World (LOTM) organized as a separate organization, with local hives represented at the state convention, which was, in turn, represented at the Supreme Hive. Was this a symbol of domesticity for the Ladies, as it was for the Rebekahs? The wide network of members protected those who moved and had to find a new hive to join, as well as those traveling. Their combined insurance benefits of $98 million in 1908 made the LOTM "the greatest financial institution among women of modern times." Members were justly proud that this vast financial empire was managed entirely by women.67
The LOTM was organized in West Virginia on June 21, 1894 when Mannington's Crescent Hive No. 1 was formed. By 1907, there were thirty-eight hives in the state, with a membership of nineteen hundred and $986,250 worth of insurance benefits. Local hives often added voluntary and locally-controlled flower funds, hospital funds, needy member funds, and "many others suggested by circumstances arising in each locality."68
The first state convention was held in May 1907 in Clarksburg. Both Knights and Ladies met at the same time, but usually not in joint sessions; this seems to have been standard procedure for such groups. The next state convention was apparently held in Wheeling in May 1911; Reverend W. H. Fields of the First Christian Church greeted the members and "said he would be very glad to extend to us the keys to the city but he thought the Mayor the day before had given them over to the Knight Templars but he knew, however that we would be very welcome."69
Conventions and anniversaries were the time to discuss statewide goals and national objectives. In 1907, the Supreme Hive began a fund "to establish hospitals and homes for disabled and aged members, and to secure hospital treatment for the members in their various states." In 1908, the Ladies of the Maccabees announced that the order was ready to build this "National L.O.T.M. Hospital and Home" for the "destitute aged" and "helpless orphans."70
Conventions were not all business. Parades, rituals, and entertainment mingled with resolutions and reports. Seemingly trivial bits of information on entertainment provide interesting clues to "good rimes" in the early twentieth century. For example, the 1911 LOTM convention's delegates "entertained themselves in whatever way they wished most of them in street car riding . . . and some joy riding in automobiles."71
In addition to insurance and fellowship, the LOTM promoted patriotism and the sanctity of the home. To honor that "heroic Maccabean mother of old," members were urged to "never fail to teach our daughters and our sons loyalty to our country and to our country's flag."72 Members could protect their homes and keep their families together because of the fraternal benefits available. In addition, members helped each other "in rime of sickness and distress."73 Available sources did not indicate that LOTM members were involved in any other activities that some women might have considered patriotic and contributing to the benefit of the home, such as suffrage and prohibition.
The LOTM changed its name to Woman's Benefit Association (WBA) in 1918. At that time, the insurance protection, which had apparently included home as well as personal insurance, was extended "to include any member of a family either male or female who desired protection in the W.B.A."74
Finally, the Order of the Eastern Star (OES) organized its first West Virginia chapter in 1892 in Wheeling, almost forty years after Robert Morris initiated the order in the United States in 1853 as the female auxiliary of the Masons. On the national level, Eastern Stars, like the Rebekahs, fought long battles to control their own organization, demanding in the 1870s that the Grand Matron, rather than the Grand Patron, should have the authority to preside over state meetings. Connecticut Grand Matron Addie Barrio argued, in 1880, that the times '"demanded an extension of woman's influence and usefulness.... and made her a prominent fact in all the moral, intellectual, and social activities of society'." Adopting a five-pointed star, the members celebrated the five roles played by women: daughter, sister, wife, mother, and widow defined by their relationship to men and family. Members had to be the wife, mother, sister, or daughter of a Master Mason.75
By 1915, seventy-eight Eastern Star chapters had been organized in West Virginia. By 1930, there were 129 chapters. The effects of the Depression then became immediately apparent because there was a seven-year gap in chapter organization in district three (1929-36), while in other districts that gap was even larger (1927-46 in district one was the most extreme).76
While this group may not be typical of others, it is interesting that the Morgantown Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star had 130 members, including twenty-seven men, in 1917; the OES required that some offices be held by men, thereby strengthening the ties between women and men. It is immediately apparent that members of this group were not in the same social class as members of the DAR or AAUW. Only five of the women were listed in the 1918-19 city directory under their own names with an identifiable occupation: two milliners, two stenographers, and a telephone operator. Husbands were more likely to be tinworkers (eleven), salesmen, clerks, plumbers, insurance agents, foremen, and small shopkeepers than university professors, business owners, or lawyers.77
These secret fraternal and sororal clubs were not exclusively for white men and women. African- Americans organized their own fraternal, sororal and benevolent organizations that paralleled those of whites. While white women joined the Pythian Sisters, blacks joined the Order of Calanthe. One black, Samuel W. Starks of Charleston, supreme chancellor of the Knights of Pythias, undoubtedly played a major role in encouraging the growth of Courts of Calanthe in Charleston (two by 1909), Elkins (by 1921), and Huntington (by 1917).78
Before 1930, West Virginia city directories indicate the presence of the following sororal and benevolent organizations for blacks: Ancient Free and Accepted Masons (Colored) in Elkins and Wheeling; Grand United Order of Odd Fellows' Households of Ruth in Charleston, Fairmont, Huntington, and Wheeling; and the Supreme Council of the Golden Chain in Charleston. Unfortunately, no membership lists have been discovered for these organizations, nor were annual reports available to provide comparable information to that given for white groups.
Even the number of organizations listed above does not exhaust the list of possibilities open to West Virginia clubwomen. City directories published for West Virginia cities through 1930 identify a long list of other societies, including the Ladies' Auxiliary of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Degree of Honor of the Ancient Order of United Workmen, Dames of Malta, Daughters of Order of United American Mechanics, Degree of Pocahontas (Improved Order of Red Men), Ladies' Auxiliary of the Ku Klux Klan, Ladies of the Golden Eagle, Ladies of the Shrine, Protected Home Circle, Royal Neighbors of America, and Shield of Honor. Some, by their names, were clearly auxiliaries to male groups; some probably limited membership in various ways. All, however provided companionship and mutual goals for their members.
In conclusion, it is important to note that the work of women's clubs is an on-going research topic in women's history today. There is, as yet, no comprehensive published study that provides the long-range national synthesis needed to understand fully the work of these women meeting in their own groups in towns across the nation, sharing the work through national and state publications and conventions. Such a study is underway by Dr. Anne Firor Scott of Duke University. Some West Virginia groups have published their own histories, as cited in the references to this article, but records still are too thin to be comprehensive.
The cult of true womanhood and the doctrine of separate spheres may have limited women's options in the "outside world" of business, but they did not stop the women who fought to change the conscience and policies of the country. If they could not vote, they took to the streets and petitioned to get men to pass the laws they wanted for prohibition and suffrage. They lobbied for libraries, domestic science education, and peace. They organized art programs and Americanization Centers and supported the country's efforts during World War I. When there was no government or industry sponsored health insurance or retirement benefits, women organized to take care of their own. The agenda was not the same for each group, as the examples above show, and there are few references to cooperative endeavors across organizations, such as between the Daughters of Rebekah and the WCTU. However; wherever they gathered, women learned to organize and work together; manage money and a wide range of projects, and, most importantly, make a difference in society.
Barbara J. Howe is director of the public history program at West Virginia University. With Emory Kemp, she edited Public History: An Introduction and has written many articles for other publications, including West Virginia History. She received the Ph.D. degree from Temple University.
1. The term "unsexed termagant" was used by Mrs. Thomas W. Flemming, president of the Woman's Club of Fairmont, in 1908 when she announced, "There was a day when a club woman was grossly misunderstood when she was pictured as an unsexed termagant, neglectful of her God-given privilege as wife, mother, home-maker. Now the world's vision has grown clearer, and a club woman is known as one who wants to help the world along"' (Vera Andrew Harvey, The Silver Gleam: Pageant and History of the West Virginia Federation of Women's Clubs in Celebration of the Twenty-fifth Anniversary, 1904-1929[Charleston: n.p., 1929], 84).
2. Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, ed. and abridged by Richard D. Heffner (New York: New American Library, 1956), 198. This work was originally published in 1835, following his 1831-32 tour of the United States; Mrs. J. C. Croly, The History of the Woman's Club Movement in America (New York: Henry G. Alien &. Co., 1988), 13. This is the best contemporary source of information about early women's clubs.
3. For information on these organizations, see Barbara J. Berg, The Remberered Gate: Origins of American Feminism, The Woman & The City, 1800-1860 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978).
4. For a description of the "New Woman," see Lois W. Banner, Women in Modern America: A Brief History, 2nd ed. (San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1984), 1-49. For a discussion of the importance of associations to immigrants, see Judith E. Smith, "Circles of Assistance: Reciprocity and Associational Life," in Family Connections: A History of Italian and Jewish immigrant Lives in Providence, Rhode Island, 1900-1940 (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1985), 124-65. For a discussion of clubs as a manifestation of nativism, see John Higham, Strangers m the Land: Patterns of American Nativism, 1860-1925 (New York: Atheneum, 1967).
5. Mrs. Ned Johnson, comp. and ed., Mountaineer Memories: 1883-1983 (n.p., n.d. [WCTU?]), 2, 3, 4. The first seven unions were in Wheeling, Clarksburg, Parkersburg, Charleston, Keyser, Huntington, and Weston.
6. Ruth Bordin, Woman and Temperance: The Quest for Power and Liberty, 1873-1900 (Philadelphia: Temple Univ. Press, 1981), 100.
7. Elizabeth Putnam Gordon, Women Torch-Bearers: The Story of the Women's Christian Temperance Union (Evanston, IL: National's WCTU Publ. House, 1924), 200.
8. Johnson, Mountaineer Memories, 13.
9. Ibid., 7, 16, 18. For an account of this 1916 election, and the campaign leading up to it, see Anne Wallace Effland, "The Woman Suffrage Movement in West Virginia, 1867- 1920" (M.A. thesis. West Virginia University, 1983).
10. Ibid., 8, 12, 14.
11. Ibid., 16; and quotation from Gordon, Women Torch-Bearers, 121.
12. The population figures for the 1920 census show 3,279 foreign-born whites in Monongalia County in a total population of 33,618 (U.S. Bureau of the Census, Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920, Vol I, Population, 1920, General Report and Analytical Tables [Washington, 1922], 1370). Only Brooke (15%) and Hancock (31%) had substantially higher ratios of foreign-born than Monongalia (Ibid., 1369-70).
13. Johnson, Mountaineer Memories, gives chapter totals and membership figures for almost every year. Figures for 1927 are on p. 19, for 1930 on p. 21, and for 1938 on p. 26.
14. For additional information on the ACA, see William L O'Neill, Everyone Was Brave: A History of Feminism in America (New York: Quadrangle, 1971), 77-84.
15. Mrs. Douglas C. Tomkies, "Resume of the Minutes of the Huntington Branch of the American Association of University Women," in Lucy E. Prichard, comp., "A History of the West Virginia Division of the American Association of University Women," typescript, 173-75, West Virginia and Regional History Collection, West Virginia University Libraries, Morgantown, WV (hereafter WVRHC).
16. Ibid., 175,176.
17. Ibid., 178.
18. Helen J. Deveny, "Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the Fairmont Branch, 1923-1948," in Prichard, "A History of the West Virginia Division," 169. The AAUW name was adopted six months before this letter was sent.
19. Virginia Foulk, "Chapter I - 1923 - 1929," in ibid., 2-9.
20. "Chapter II - 1929-1931," in ibid., 14-19.
21. Financial ledger, AAUW, Morgantown Branch, Archives, 1922-1960, Box I, WVRHC. Names were checked in Polk's Morgantown Directory, 1922-23. vol. 5 (Pittsburgh: R.L Polk &. Co., 1922); and Polk's Morgantown Directory, 1925-26. vol. 6 (Pittsburgh: R. L. Polk & Co., 1925). The 1922-23 volume was used first because it appeared that the membership list, although undated, reflected a membership closer to 1923 than to 1925.
22. Harvey, Silver Gleam, 81. The 15 charter clubs and their organization dates are as follows: Mutual Improvement Circle (Ronceverte, 1903), Woman's Literary Club (Wheeling, 1900), Country Literary Club (Wheeling, n.d.). Fortnightly Club (Wheeling, n.d.), Woman's Literary Club (Sistersville, 1904), Woman's Literary Club (Parkersburg, 1901), Students' Club (Wheeling, n.d.). Four O'clock Club (Point Pleasant, 1892), Woman's Art Club (Wheeling, n.d.). Woman's Parliamentary Law Club (Wheeling, n.d.). Woman's Literary Club (Huntington, 1898), Island Literary Club (Wheeling, 1903), Virginia Club (Wheeling, n.d.). Woman's Literary Club (Wellsburg, 1899), Village Improvement Club (Parkersburg, 1902), (Ibid., 82).
23. Mildred White Wells, Unity in Diversity: The History of the General Federation of Women's Clubs (Washington, DC: General Federation of Women's Clubs, 1953), 224; and Harvey, Silver Gleam, 133.
24. Wells, Unity in Diversity, 182, 183,; Harvey, Silver Gleam, 87.
25. Wells, Unity in Diversity, 192.
26. Harvey, Silver Gleam, 98, 108-09.
27. "Minute Book, 1925-1941," 4 February 1926, 3 October 1927, 4 February 1929, Morgantown Woman's Club, Art Department, WVRHC. Another presentation, by Mrs. William B. Fletcher, was "a very inspiring talk on Interior Decoration" that highlighted the fact that "to fulfill its purpose the home must be a place of restfulness and beauty," a place that avoided a "museum- like appearance" achieved by "the profuse use of freak objects" (Ibid., 5 March 1928).
28. Wells, Unity in Diversity, 171; Harvey, Silver Gleam, 129-30; and Lloyd J. Leggett, "Woman's Club of Clarksburg: A Reflection of the Contemporary Woman," unpublished typescript in the possession of the author, 6 December 1988, 6, 8.
29. Wells, Unity in Diversity, 221, 230; and Harvey, Silver Gleam, 93.
30. See Karen J. Blair, The Clubwoman as Feminist: True Womanhood Redefined, 1868-1914 (New York: Holmes & Meier Publishers, 1980).
31. Juliette Boyer Baker, West Virginia State History of the Daughters of the American Revolution (n.p., n.d. ), 24, 25. Capsule histories of each chapter begin on page 83.
32. Details of these activities can be found in the various chapter histories in ibid., 67,83- 122. A list of historic sites and memorials owned by the WVDAR chapters can be found in ibid., 129-52.
33. Ibid., 29. The twelve statues, still maintained by the DAR, are located in Bethesda, Maryland; Washington County, Pennsylvania; Wheeling, West Virginia; Springfield, Ohio; Richmond, Indiana; Vandalia, Illinois; Lexington, Missouri; Council Grove, Kansas; Lamark, Colorado; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Springerville, Arizona; and Upland, California. The Bethesda statue had to be moved from its original location because of road construction (Mollie Somerville, telephone interview with author, 30 August 1989; Ms. Somerville has been writing various histories of the DAR for approximately twenty-five years).
34. Baker, West Virginia State History, 28.
35. This conference assembled on November 11, 1921 to commemorate the third anniversary of Armistice Day; it led to the Five Power Naval Treaty and Four Power Naval Treaty, which established tonnage ratios for ships of the various naval powers. Daughters of the American Revolution in West Virginia, Proceedings of the Twenty-first Conference of the Daughters of the American Revolution in West Virginia, Elkins, October 12, 13, 14, 1926 (Parkersburg: Scholl Printing Co., n.d.), 16.
36. Ibid., 37.
37. Baker, West Virginia State History, 200.
38. WVDAR, Proceedings of the Twenty-first Conference, 36.
39. Ibid., 37. For a description of this part of the DAR's agenda see Jacqueline Van Voris, Carrie Chapman Catt: A Public Life (New York: Feminist Press, 1987), 192- 97.
40. WVDAR, Proceedings of the Twenty-first Conference, 41; and Baker, West Virginia State History, 203.
41. Polk's Bluefield Directory, 1927-28 (Pittsburgh: R. L. Polk and Co., 1928). Mrs. Mary Douthat Becker was listed in the yearbook without the usual indication of a husband's initials.
42. Johnson, Mountaineer Memories, 21.
43. For information on clubs for African-American women see Paula Giddings, When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Race and Sex in America (Toronto: Bantam Books, 1984); Gerda Lerner, ed., Black Women in White America: A Documentary History (New York: Vintage Books, 1972), 433-520; and Gerda Lerner, The Majority Finds Its Past: Placing Women in History (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1979), 83-93, quotation on 93.
44. The Charleston Woman's Improvement League, Inc., Ninetieth Anniversary Program, 14-15 May 1988, 2.
45. Anna Evans Gilmer, "College Alumnae Club of Kanawha County, Inc.," The West Virginia Beacon Digest (Charleston), 10 February 1989. The article is too sketchy to indicate specific club activities before 1930, although it does indicate that there are minute books that may be available for examination.
46. Mary Ann Clawson, Constructing Brotherhood: Class, Gender, and Fraternalism (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1989), 187, 186, 180.
47. Ibid., 196-210.
48. Degree of Rebekah, Journal of Proceedings of the Rebekah State Assembly of West Virginia, 1927. The Forty-First Annual Session Held in the City of Huntington, October 11,12,1927 (Fairmont: Fairmont Printing Co., 1927), 2935.
49. Information on the national history of the Degree of Rebekah is from Clawson, Constructing Brotherhood, 187-93, 201-03.
50. Ibid., 191,192.
51. Degree of Rebekah, Journal of Proceedings, 1927, 2984-85, 2987. A member could be divorced from an Odd Fellow because she was then considered an unmarried woman. She could not have a son-in-law as her only connection to the IOOF, but she could have a half- brother if she was "otherwise qualified."
52. Degree of Rebekah, Journal of Proceedings, 1901, 26.
53. "I.O.O.F. Programme. Laying Corner Stone. Odd Fellows' Home, August twenty-second, nineteen hundred and eight. Elkins, West Virginia"; and "Dedication of Odd Fellows Home. September 22, 1910. Remarks of Hon. H. G. Davis," 5.
54. For the year ending October 11, 1927, C.P. Bell, president of the Home Board, noted that members had given "over two tons of jellies and preserves ... besides boxes of bed linen, towels, quilts, curtains and a number of individual gifts to our children, and our grandmas and grandpas" (Degree of Rebekah, Journal of Proceedings, 1927, 3927). In 1928, there were 105 boys, 95 girls, and 20 elderly at the Home (Degree of Rebekah, Journal of Proceedings, 1928, 3195).
55. Ibid., 3121, 3122.
56. Pythian Sisters of West Virginia, Proceedings of the Grand Temple, Pythian Sisters of West Virginia. Fourth Annual Convention Held at Hinton, West Virginia, October 14, 15, and 16, 1908 (n.p., n.d.), 60. This also gives directions to organize a local temple.
57. Pythian Sisters of West Virginia, Proceedings of the Fifth Annual Convention of the Grand Temple, Pythian Sisters of West Virginia, Held at Parkersburg, W.Va., September 8, 9 and 10, 1909 (n.p., n.d.), 43-44. All material on the early history of the Order of Pythian Sisters is from this source and from Clawson, Constructing Brotherhood, 200.
58. Ibid., 44,45.
59. Pythian Sisters, Proceedings of the Fifth Annual Convention, 45-47.
60. Pythian Sisters, Proceedings of the Fourth Annual Convention, 27, 51.
61. Pythian Sisters of West Virginia, Proceedings of Grand Temple West Virginia Pythian Sisters, Third Annual Session Held at Huntington, West Virginia, October 9, 10, and 11, 1907. (n.p., n.d.), 9.
62. Clawson, Constructing Brotherhood, 204.
63. Pythian Sisters of West Virginia, Journal of Proceedings of the Eighth Annual Session of the Grand Temple of Pythian Sisters of West Virginia held at Charleston, West Virginia, August 12, 1912 (n.p n.d.), 39.
64. Pythian Sisters, Proceedings of Eighth Annual Session, 39, 40.
65. Pythian Sisters, Proceedings of Fifth Annual Convention, 47.
66. Pencil manuscript with "1908" in top right corner, 1, Ladies of the Maccabees, Progressive Hive No. 8, WVRHC.
67. Ladies of the Maccabees of the World, Anniversary Day, I October 1908, Program, 1892- 1908, (hereafter Anniversary Day Program), WVRHC; and "1908" pencil manuscript, 4.
68. Proceedings of the State Convention of LOTM, [1907?], n.p., WVRHC; and Anniversary Day Program.
69. Proceedings of the State Convention of LOTM, [1907?]; and manuscript beginning "The second convention of the LO.T.M.O.T.W.," 1911, 1, WVRHC.
70. Anniversary Day Program.
71. Manuscript report on 1911 convention, 4.
72. Pencil manuscript "No. 1."
73. Anniversary Day Program.
74. "Women's Benefit Association," typescript probably written by Daisie Reeves, n.d., WVRHC.
75. Information on the national history of the Order of Eastern Star is from Clawson, Constructing Brotherhood, 188-93, 195, 203.
76. Proceeding of the Fiftieth Annual Session of the Grand Chapter of West Virginia Order of the Eastern Star "Golden Jubilee Session" Held in Municipal Auditorium, Charleston, West Virginia, October 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 1953 (n.p., n.d.), 199-204. Chapters were apparently numbered in strict numerical order, but no chartering dates were given for the chapters defunct by 1953.
77. "Roster of Officers and Members of Masonic Bodies and Organizations, Morgantown Jurisdiction. Morgantown, W.Va. March 1, l9l7, Clawson, Constructing Brotherhood, 195; and R. L. Polk & Co.'s Morgantown Directory, 1918-1919. vol.3 (Pittsburgh: R. L. Polk & Co., 1918).
78. Ancella Radford Bickley, "From Samuel W. Starks To The Sojourners," Charleston Daily Mail, 27 February 1987; and city directories for cities and dates indicated.
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