The Federation of Women’s Clubs

All this month we’re bringing you stories from North Carolina women’s history. Check back here each week day for a new tidbit on the women of our state’s past.

Clubwomen played an important role in shaping North Carolina life during the 20th century. Their influence extended to the ballot box, the workplace, public health, library development, the arts, conservation and literacy. The North Carolina Federation of Women’s Clubs, as the “oldest, largest, charitable, non-denominational, nonpartisan service organization of volunteer women in North Carolina” was organized on May 26, 1902, on the campus of Salem Academy. The charter called for the promotion of education and for civic, cultural and social activities that would better the state. The original departments of work were education, library extension, village improvement and state charities. Gertrude Weil recalled the meeting: “Women were not so accustomed in those days to leave their homes to attend meetings, and still less to leave their home-towns. Having no husband nor children to neglect by my absence, I was free to go . . . We arrived in Winston—by rail of course—at night . . .Our respective hostesses met us and whisked us off—in surries. . . That was the first annual meeting of what has become the biggest, strongest organization of women in the State.”

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