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MC 662

Women's City Club of Boston. Records of the Women's City Club of Boston, 1913-1992: A Finding Aid

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America

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Processing of this collection was made possible by gifts from generous supporters of the Schlesinger Library to the Maximum Access Fund.
Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Cambridge, Mass.
January 2011

© 2011 President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: MC 662
Repository: Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
Creator: Women's City Club of Boston
Title: Records of the Women's City Club of Boston, 1913-1992
Quantity: 19.81 linear ft. (47 + ½ file boxes) plus 2 photograph folders
Language of materials: Materials in English
Abstract: Annual reports, correspondence, financial records, minutes, publications, photographs, clippings, etc., of the Women's City Club of Boston.

Processing Information:

Processed: January 2011
By: Emilyn L. Brown

Acquisition Information:

Accession numbers: 92-M113, 94-M55
These records were given to the Schlesinger Library by the Women's City Club of Boston in 1992 and 1994.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Unrestricted.

Use Restrictions:

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by the Women's City Club of Boston is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.

Preferred citation for publication:

Records of the Women's City Club of Boston; item description, dates. MC 662, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

HISTORY

The Women's City Club of Boston (hereafter referred to as the Club) was formed to promote solidarity among women interested in the welfare of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; maintain a clubhouse for informal meetings; and provide a forum for public officials, civic leaders, noted authors, and others to discuss contemporary topics. In 1912, founding members, who included Josephine A. Bruorton, Helen Osborne Storrow, and Frances Greely Curtis, met to discuss organizing a club for women. Adopting the slogan "Three to Three Hundred: What's Your Number?" their recruitment campaign called for each member to bring in 10 more. On May 15, 1913, the first 30 members met, and subsequently became the nucleus of the executive committee, chaired by Storrow. The Club soon attracted a charter membership of 300 individuals who adopted a constitution and by-laws, confirmed the appointment of officers and committees, and established financial planning goals. The Club was incorporated in Massachusetts on December 29, 1913, with more than 1,000 members.
In 1914 the Club's membership reached 3,000. Coincidentally, a Federal-style townhouse at 40 Beacon Street became available and was purchased by the Forty Beacon Street Associates. The building was leased to the Club on May 1, 1914, and after extensive renovations, opened in the fall of the same year. The Club purchased the building for $135,000 in 1919 and retired the mortgage in 1927.
In its formative period, the Club's activities, which included lectures, annual dinners, dances, war-time relief efforts, and public events, contributed to a growing membership. The Club also formed strong ties with affiliate organizations across the country. Men were permitted to use its dining room and other facilities, but had no voting or property rights. The Club was also noted for its active role in civic affairs, including fundraisers for victims of the 1914 Salem fire.
In 1939, the Club purchased the adjacent building at 39 Beacon Street, which was formerly known as the Nathan Appleton House, built ca.1818 and remembered for the wedding of Henry Wadsworth and Fannie Appleton. The Club also owned other properties, including 5 Walnut Street, purchased by Helen Osborne Storrow and rented to the club for its lending library, public events, and sewing circles.
From a peak membership of 5,000, reached shortly before the Great Depression, the Club continued to thrive through the 1950s. It took a downturn in the 1960s when operating costs exceeded its revenue, and, like many women's clubs, it had difficulty attracting new members. Although 39 Beacon Street was designated a national historic landmark in 1979, the Club's continued financial losses necessitated its sale in 1984. Despite these challenges, Club members continued to hold meetings and events at their other buildings. In 1991, with approximately 150 members, the Club filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. A year later, 40 Beacon Street was offered for sale. Suffolk University attempted to purchase the property, and would have allowed club members continued use. However, conflicts developed over the University's intended use of the building, and the sale fell through. An associate of the Union Club in Boston in 2010, the Women's City Club of Boston has approximately 20 members who regularly meet to conduct Club business.

ARRANGEMENT

The collection is arranged in three series:

SCOPE AND CONTENT

The records of the Women's City Club of Boston document a long history of accomplishments and challenges and highlight the development and ultimate demise of the women's club movement. Included are annual reports; minutes of annual and special meetings; organizational and architectural histories; committee records; publications; clippings; photographs, and slides. The archivist created the folder titles and arrangement.
Series I, HISTORY AND ADMINISTRATION, 1913-1984, n.d. (#1.1-9.5, PD.1), includes correspondence, speeches, and writings; articles of incorporation and by-laws; annual reports; administrative policies and procedures; minutes; and architectural records that include photographs and slides. The records are organized as three subseries:
Subseries A, History, 1922-1984, n.d. (#1.1-1.5, PD.1), includes the Club's mission statement; organizational history detailed in writings, speeches, correspondence, and testimonies; architectural records; and photographs and slides of the Club's properties at 39 and 40 Beacon Street. Folders are arranged alphabetically.
Subseries B, Annual meetings and reports, 1913-1982 (#1.6-2.6), contains minutes from annual and special meetings, and annual reports. There is substantial overlap between these records (which include financial statements, announcements of programs and fund-raising events, and yearly accomplishments and goals) and the records of the executive committee. The records were originally stored in 3-ring binders, which were dismantled. Folders are arranged alphabetically.
Subseries C, Executive committee, 1913-1982 (#3.1-9.5), includes minutes with supporting correspondence; financial statements; reports from various committees; and revised by-laws. Minutes of the board of governors, successor to the executive committee, are also included. With the exception of the earliest bound volume of minutes (#3.1), which includes articles of incorporation, by-laws, and a list of the first charter members of the Club, the records were originally stored in 3-ring binders, which were dismantled. Folders are arranged alphabetically.
Series II, COMMITTEES, 1913-1974 (#9.6-17.11), contains records related to the work of standing and ad hoc committees as outlined in the by-laws or appointed by the executive committee for specific short-term purposes. Records that were originally stored in 3-ring binders have been dismantled and organized as two subseries:
Subseries A, Standing committees, 1913-1974 (#9.6-16.10), includes minutes; correspondence; financial statements; reports detailing specific accomplishments, programs and activities; and listings of committee officers. Folders are arranged alphabetically.
Subseries B, Ad hoc committees, 1914-1938 (#17.1-17.11), includes minutes; correspondence; financial statements; and reports of short-term or defunct committees. Folders are arranged alphabetically.
Series III, PUBLICATIONS AND PUBLICITY, 1913-1979 (#18.1-48.1v, PD.2), includes publications; clippings; press releases; public announcements; membership directories; and related material used to promote the accomplishments, activities, and services of the Club. The records are organized as two subseries:
Subseries A, Women's City Club of Boston Bulletin, 1914-1979 (#18.1-28.7), contains a substantial number of bound volumes and a smaller number of folders containing unbound Bulletins, which include annual reports; records of the executive committee; reports of the President and various committees; financial statements; public announcements of upcoming events and educational lectures; and lists of new members. There is some overlap with the annual reports and records of the executive committee in Series I. Bulletins were published in newsletter format or as pamphlets by the mid-1970s. Folders are arranged chronologically.
Subseries B, Clippings and related, 1913-1992, n.d. (scattered) (#29.1v-48.1v, PD.2), contains bound volumes of clippings, and a few folders of loose clippings, collected from newspapers in Boston and elsewhere in Massachusetts. There are some discrepancies between the dates printed on volume spines and the actual content. Also included are press releases, public announcements, and photographs. Folders are arranged alphabetically.
A selection of the photographs in this collection are or will be cataloged in VIA, Harvard University's Visual Information Access database. Others, referred to as "uncataloged" photographs, are not of sufficient research interest to warrant cataloging and are simply treated as part of the documents they accompany; they are marked on the back with an asterisk in square brackets [*].

INVENTORY

Additional catalog entries

The following catalog entries represent persons, organizations, and topics documented in this collection. An entry for each appears in the Harvard On Line Library Information System (HOLLIS) and other automated bibliographic databases. THIS IS NOT AN INDEX.

Authors

Subjects


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