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Entries : Woman's City Club
Woman's City Club

Woman's City Club

Inspecting the Lakefront, c.1920
The Woman's City Club of Chicago was founded in 1910, before women could vote, to initiate and coordinate the participation of women in Chicago's civic affairs and to promote the welfare of the city. The club's original officers and directors were clubwomen, settlement house workers, and University of Chicago professors, including Ellen Henrotin, Jane Addams, Ruth Hanna McCormick, Louise de Koven Bowen, Mary McDowell, and Sophonisba Breckinridge, with Mary H. Wilmarth as its first president. The members were primarily middle-class and working women from the city and surrounding suburbs, and the club grew from 1,200 members in its inaugural year to over 4,000 in 1920.

The club had its greatest impact on municipal affairs during its first decade. Dedicated to investigating municipal problems, the club demanded from city government enhanced health, environmental, and sanitary conditions, funding for the public schools, safe and affordable housing, and parks, beaches, and recreational facilities. The club helped lead woman suffrage drives, and after Illinois women received the local suffrage in 1913, organized voter registration drives and citizenship classes for women. The club also supported the activities of union women, sought to ameliorate troubled race relations in the city, and worked to secure more honest municipal government.

Although its influence in municipal affairs waned after woman suffrage, the club continued to investigate municipal affairs, often working with the League of Women Voters and other women's organizations to obtain state and local legislation for women and children and to support women's equal citizenship.

Flanagan, Maureen. “Gender and Urban Political Reform: The City Club and the Woman's City Club of Chicago in the Progressive Era.” American Historical Review (October 1990): 1032–1050.