The Charleston Woman’s Improvement League, a 100-year-old black women’s
service organization, is featured in the latest issue of GOLDENSEAL magazine,
now on sale. The article, titled “‘Lifting as We Climb’: Charleston
Woman’s Improvement League,” was written by noted black historian
Dr. Ancella R. Bickley.
Founded in 1898, the League maintains a clubhouse on Washington Street in Charleston’s historic East End. From the League’s beginning, prominent Charleston black women have been associated with the group and its social, cultural, and charitable activities. Among the early members were Mattie V. Lee, Fannie Cobb Carter, Jane Morrow Spaulding, and Blanche Jeffries Tyler. Early group activities ranged from the donation of hospital and school supplies to the sponsorship of dramatic and artistic programs.
According to the article, a landmark was reached in 1958 when the League paid off the clubhouse mortgage. According to Bickley, the group became, in all probability, the only black women’s organization in the state to own such a facility.
The article also highlights the continuing activities of the Charleston Woman’s Improvement League from the standpoint of longtime members, including Jo Ellen Flagg, Thelma McDaniel, Daisy Alston, and current president Mary Snow.
Also in this issue of GOLDENSEAL are articles on Wetzel County folk toy maker Dick Schnacke, Fairmont’s Sagebrush Round-up country music show, and the recollections of 94-year-old Marie Robinette of Matewan, an eyewitness to the infamous 1920 Matewan Massacre.
GOLDENSEAL is West Virginia’s magazine of traditional life and is published quarterly by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History in Charleston. The magazine sells for $4.95 and is available at Taylor Books and B. Dalton in Charleston or by calling (304)558-0220, ext. 135.