The Transylvania Times -

Picturing The Past: Women's Club Provided Social, Civic Activities

 

March 12, 2018

Courtesy photo

Members of the Mathatasian Club, circa 1954.

Women's clubs of the early 20th century offered women an opportunities for social and civic engagement. There were a wide array of clubs from purely social groups to those that worked to improve their community and the welfare of local citizens. Clubs with special interests ranged from book clubs or garden club to those working for women's rights or other types of reform. Members were typically middle-class white women. Clubs provided a connection to others with similar interests, a sense of contributing to society, and a means to influence their communities.

In Brevard the earliest women's clubs included the Wednesday Club, the Fortnightly Club and the Mathatasian Club.

The Wednesday Club was created in 1905 for social get-togethers and to share women's magazines. There first president was Mrs. W.A. Gash. Within a short time members were exchanging books and holding planned programs. Through the years they supported health and education projects, the Girl Scouts, the hospital, the library and much more. Today, the Wednesday Club remains the longest running continuously active women's club in Transylvania County.

In 1911, a group of women associated with the Brevard Methodist Church formed the Bluebird Society. They held monthly social gathering with simple programs and did sewing for others. As the group grew, they decided to join the North Carolina Federation of Women's Clubs and changed their name to the Fortnightly Club. Their mission was to bring together women for recreation and study. They were active in projects such as work for the Red Cross during war years, selling war bonds and raising funds for medical causes like tuberculosis and cancer. Program topics in 1935-36 included family finance, the New Deal, Social Security, crime and birth control.

The Mathatasian Club started in 1915 as a group that traded books and held programs based on an annual theme. Like other women's clubs they supported causes from assisting soldiers and their families during wartime to raising funds for the polio drive. The club is still active.

Courtesy photo

The clubs typically printed booklets with officers, members, and a program schedule like this 1926-27 Fortnightly Club Year Book.

Minute books, scrapbooks and other memorabilia from these early women's club are being preserved in the Local History Room at the Transylvania County Library. Next week, Picturing the Past will look at the influences of women's organizations during World War I.

(Photographs and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina Room, Transylvania County Library. Visit the N.C. Room during regular library hours (Monday-Friday) to learn more about our history and see additional photographs. For more information, comments or suggestions, contact Marcy at [email protected] or (828) 884-1820.)

 
 

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