Page images
PDF
EPUB

Boston and the Woman's Club

By INEZ J. GARDNER

TN the striving world of to-day, the legislation for an eight-hour day I woman's club plays an import- limit for working girls whose nerves

ant part. Boston is one of their are severely taxed at the swift modleading stages, as Boston has always ern machines; and the third to supbeen the boards on which ideas have port the recent recommendation of stalked. Not that the woman's the governor for a state board, clubs of to-day can be criticised for serving five years, to provide indusflowering only in ideas, though trial training for the boys and girls those be visions beautiful, for they of the state. "Believing that the are all clubs of practise. Large and lack of industrial training for girls small, they are concerned in vary- and boys is a menace to the material ing degrees and in varying ways, and moral welfare of the commonin sociological and industrial inter- wealth.” In such problems, large ests. They plant trees in barren and small, the woman's club is enschool-yards, send libraries to iso- gaged. Among the clubs, the Boslated towns and carry out the small ton organizations are especially details and worries in the bettering active and especially leading, each of homes and schools that for the in its own line. most part, would be ignored by men. The Ladies' Physiological InstiAnd as for large doings, the Massa-. tute of Boston first established in chusetts Federation of Women's 1848 claims to be the oldest organiClubs, for instance, has built and zation of women in the country, maintained a model school in a dis- outside of religious bodies. But trict in Georgia where education is still New York asserts herself and but an apology for child training. some authorities stand up for KalaThis school has proved of great ad- mazoo as the first home of the first vantage to the people of this section, woman's club, the date being 1852. who are pitifully poor in every way, Dr. Edward Everett Hale, however, so much so that scissors, sent down comes to the rescue of Boston, and to the little girls in sewing bags, states that Anne Hutchinson orwere received with great wonder- ganized the first woman's club in ment and delight. Another showing in the country. Kalamazoo and of their larger interests are the three New York are silenced, for neither resolutions adopted in the recent can raise up a woman of promifederation meeting at Melrose: one nence of Anne Hutchinson's time to that the civics committees should found a club. The Physiological devote themselves for the next two Institute was established by a few years to public education against women with Mrs. Sylvanus Cobh, tuberculosis; the second to obtain the mother of the artist, Darius Cobb, as leader. Professor C. P. ton. Emerson, James Freeman Bronson encouraged the enterprise Clarke and John Weiss were presby introductory lectures and by ent and offered suggestions as to gifts of a mannikin and apparatus the course of the New England and also served as the club's first Women's Club when it was first president. This was before the days called together — that club which when sociology had surmounted shares with New York Sorosis the other studies and the four hundred distinction of being the great mother women who were members of this of American clubs in age and guidbody in 1849 worked only indirectly ance. The work of the club has for society by first educating them- been largely that of the organizaselves. Their ideal was to promote tion of club life—first the organizaamong women a knowledge of the tion of herself in 1868, that gatherhuman system and of the laws of ing together of the leading women hygiene. The women who com- spirits of Boston. Together with posed her ranks, we can picture New York Sorosis, it was responsigathering in Washingtonian Hall ble for the formation of the general on old Bromfield street, women of Federation of Women's Clubs, their own conviction, solid-minded, which associating women together, for did they not have to face the has made the women's clubs effigossip and scorn of those days for cient as the single club has made presuming to study the structure of its members efficient. The New their bodies' life, shame take the England Women's Club in 1893 thought! But the Institute per- gathered together women's sociesisted in its weekly meetings down ties throughout the state to form the years and disseminated its prac- the Massachusetts Federation and ticalities. Mrs. Cobb who became also summoned the New England president in 1840 and served for Federation of Clubs; and, largest many years as guiding spirit gave work of all in unifying, brought the club a delightful family spirit. about the great International Housekeeping as well as physiology Women's Council held in Paris in came under the head of hygiene and 1888. Mrs. Caroline M. Severance Mrs. Cobb would advise the young was one of the chief promoters of girls and young matrons on many the club and its first president. In an affair, how to cook grape jelly, her Ohio home just before she came for instance, so that it wouldn't to Boston to live, she knew Bronburn. As a token of their esteem son Alcott and often talked with to Professor Bronson, the club pre- him of her expected pleasure in sented him with a suit of clothes! meeting the able women of that Dr. Salome Merritt was a later city. He told her she would find president (1888) of great activity that difficult as they were scattered and strength of character. She was in different circles. The central idea an especial advocate of the Insti- of a club of women, came to be, as tute's aims, and directed them to their history has it, "the voluntary ward the moral education of city associating of kindred spirits" who school children.

were not necessarily connected by Men have been largely concerned home or church interests. in the first women's clubs in Bos- The club comprised exceptionally brilliant women eager for learn- —art, literature, discussion, work. ing, wonderfully industrious, beau- Mrs. Julia Ward Howe, who has tiful in character—the type which been so long' the president and so blossomed in the cities and in par- long connected with great advances son's libraries and in country towns still honors the chair. The efforts throughout the history of New Eng- of the club this year have been in land. Wit and wisdom sat at all definite work toward a municipal their meetings. As such high think- museum. ing would demand, their living at Woman's movements have been the club or their teas were very mostly unnoised. One of these plain, bread, dried fish and tea for silent forces is the Woman's Eduthose who partook, being the regu- cation Association, which is not lar fare. Besides these teas, how- widely known except among educaever, there were grand receptions tors and yet has led in many great when they entertained dignitaries educational enterprises. Miss Anna from home or abroad. After Mrs. C. Lowell and Mrs. Mary C. HemSeverance's departure to California, enway with twelve other women orMrs. Julia Ward Howe as president ganized this body in 1872 with the and Mrs. Ednah D. Cheney as sec- aim of promoting in every way the retary conducted the club and im- better education of women. Their parted to it of their hopes and list of members has grown year by sparkling wit. Mrs. Mary A. C. year so that they have been forced Livermore and Mrs. Sewall were to hold their meetings in a hall in leading members. Emerson, Whit- spite of their early preference for tier and Mr. Thomas Wentworth the parlor of some home. InfluenHigginson often contributed poems tial women of the city, women to the club meetings. At the last scholars and the women from nearby literary meeting of the club in May, schools and colleges make the list. 1906, Colonel Higginson was pres- President Hazard of Wellesley, for ent and read verse from contempo- instance, is a member, so are Dean raneous poets including a poem by Irwin of Radcliffe and Professor Mrs. Howe. Mrs. Howe presided. Ellen T. Richards of Technology. The repartee between these noted Harvard examinations for women personages was the liveliness of the were the first innovation they esday. The club also had its active tablished, although passing these side. It advocated dress reform examinations was to the girl stuand opened a store on Winter street dents no more than a certain mark for the sale of dress reform goods. of satisfaction and honor. The fact It aided an agitation for better pre- that girls were permitted to take paratory schools for girls which these examinations at Harvard and finally resulted in the Girls' Latin with other influence in the same School. Every person with a plan direction resulted ten years later in or with an especial work came and Radcliffe College. The method of presented it before this club so that the association has been to follow on their old lecture lists we read the the lines of least resistance and on movements of past hours. The club such lines to offer their aid and to work still goes on with the old aimi use their influence on public opincrystallized into four departments ion. These statements about Tech

nology may illustrate the methods since transferred to the governof the organization. One year in ment station at Woods Holl. Two the Girls' Latin School building, the or three women, perhaps just out Women's Education Association of college, perhaps school teachers offered advanced courses in chemis- for some years, are studying abroad try for women anxious to go further this year, as other women have in that study, yet having no chance done before them, on the colexcept under a private tutor. They lege fellowship scholarships of the continued these courses year by Women's Education Association. year and at the same time used The club is progressive in that it their influence until the time was aims to sound all the needs of the ripe for them to issue a leaflet stat- time. It is conservative, listing its ing: “The Massachusetts Institute power in the association as a whole of Technology has already made and looked upon as an organization certain provisions for women stud- of standing. One of their latest ents in science, as is shown by the ventures was the establishment of following statements from the cata- the Household Aid Company, to logue. . . . It will here be seen that help solve the domestic problems the only obstacle to the admission of the day. This venture consisted of women to full privileges in this in a central house in which young scientific school, is the difficulty of girls studied all branches of houseproviding suitable arrangements. work under a competent matron It is therefore proposed to place in and from this central point went the hands of the Corporation, ten out by the day to work for housethousand dollars, provided that the keepers. The demand was not Board in accepting that amount, great enough for these household will guarantee all the advantages of workers, and the house was closed. the Institute to women. Nearly It looked as though the attempt had one half of this sum has already failed. Yet since the demand on the been raised and the Women's Edu- Domestic Reform League of the cation Association, desiring to as- Women's Educational and Indussist in raising the remainder, has trial Union for just such workers appointed a Committee,” etc. has been pressing since the House

In some such manner they gave hold Aid Company closed its doors, the initiative to the establishment it seems that the Woman's Educaof the Boston Cooking School, the tion Association had again anticiTraining School for Nurses, the pated a modern need and suggested Diet Kitchen and the opening of the means to fill it. Such an experiCharlesbank gymnasium to women ment on the part of the Education and children. They introduced va- Association was in the industrial cation schools into the city and for spirit of the hour. a good many years have sent travel. But there was one organization ling libraries and sets of foreign in the city which thirty years ago pictures to isolated Massachusetts looked ahead to just this industrial towns. In connection with the standpoint of to-day and even emBoston Society of Natural History, bodied it in its name—the Women's they established the summer bio- Educational and Industrial Union, logical laboratory at Annisquam, founded in 1877 by Dr. Harriet Clisby and six associates, among to those of the Union, received this whom was Mrs. Abby Morton Diaz. year one hundred demands from They aimed to promote fellowship forty different employers which they among women and to make a union had not girls enough to fill. of women which should be “the The Union expresses its spirit of Union of all for the good of all.” fellowship in its many hospitalities, The first activity of the Women's also finds practical application in the Educational and Industrial Union relations of its employees who have was in behalf of underpaid and ill- something to say in self governused sales-girls in a Boston store ment. They are banded together in and their endeavors from that time what is called a general committee on to help women industrially have before whom are referred all genbeen unflagging

eral questions that affect hours, They continue, for instance, a be- wages or any other working condifriending committee for women who tion before being adopted by the have been unfairly treated, who board of management. Many difhave not been able to collect their ierent endeavors have grown into wages, it may be, and supply a legai departments and standing commitcounsel to hear and investigate tees during the Union's years of these cases. Their lawyer at the life and so numerous are they that present time is Miss Caroline J. with food exchanges, lectures, emCook. But the educational clause ployment bureaus, discussions of of their title has suffered a great the problems of the wage earner, of change in application for they no the blind, of the aged, of the cook, longer educate in French and Ger- the onlooker finds it hard to relate man and like academic subjects but all these different doings to one body instead offer instruction in trade and to a body so strongly organized classes. The trade classes were be- as the Union is. One of these many gun in the fall of 1904 and are now activities which stands out promithree in number, aiming to fit the nently by reason of large success is working girl to do better work and the Domestic Reform League-a to command higher wages when she branch of the employment bureau. starts out to earn her living. The As it modestly states—“the League course in millinery sent girls to the coes not claim to have solved the employ of first class milliners. They domestic problem. It believes howreceived after their six months' ever, that much will be accomtraining at the Union, wages of rlished when employer and emfive to eight dollars which they ployee meet on a business basis and would have had to wait two or in a spirit of co-operation.” This three years for under the usual ap- business basis is unique in that it prentice system. Classes in wire combines both the employer and the hat frames and in salesmanship employee. But the cook who obtains were offered this year, and were a position through the Domestic large in numbers and successful. The I eague and the woman who engages trades classes mean success for the the cook sign a contract together, girls and satisfaction for the em- one for fair conditions and the other ployer. The Trade School for for efficient service. Two thousand Girls, which offers courses similar people have made use of the Do

« PreviousContinue »