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General Federation of Women's Clubs of Connecticut records

Identifier: RG142

Scope and Content

The records are arranged into nine series which document the organization and activities of the General Federation of Women's Clubs of Connecticut. The series include: Administrative Files, Publications, Press Books and Scrapbooks, Centennial, Photographs, Artifacts, Sound Recordings, Videos, and Removable Media.

Series 1. Administrative Files, 1896-2012, include minutes, reports, correspondence, calls to meetings, programs, directories, bylaws, official ballots, and newspaper clippings.

Series 2. Publications, 1898-1972, consist of histories, newsletters, directories, and club year books.

Series 3. Press Books and Scrapbooks, 1897-1957, consist primarily of scrapbooks of newspaper clippings and other published accounts of the activities of the General Federation of Women's Clubs of Connecticut. The series also includes records of press book contests held by the federation.

Series 4. Centennial, 1995-1998, includes correspondence, reports, minutes, calls to meetings, programs, and directories of the federation's centennial administration. The series also contains records of the federation's centennial celebration, held in May 1997.

Series 5. Photographs, 1976, consist of one box of photographic slides from a home energy check slide show.

Series 6. Artifacts, 1897-2011, include a delegate's badge, a medal, a guestbook, and a stamp of a woman's likeness, most likely of statewide president, Florence Sutton.

Series 7. Sound Recordings, 1953-1963, consists of sound recordings, on vinyl records, of speakers at the Eastern Region General Federation of Women's Clubs Convention in 1953, and at the Annual Conventions in 1953, 1954, and 1963. Also includes a recording, on vinyl records, of a federation song, "Strengthen the Arm of Liberty."

Series 8. Videos, circa 2009-2010, consists of 2 duplicate digital video discs on the Veterans OASIS project and 1 digital video disc on the American Mural Project.

Series 9. Removable Media, 2008-2010, consists of 37 Microsoft Word documents including executive committee and board minutes; convention planning minutes; convention bullet points; orientation minutes; and an index of meeting dates.


  • Creation: 1896-2012

Language of Materials

The records are in English.

Restrictions on Access

These records are stored at an off-site facility and therefore may not be available on a same-day basis.

See the Rules and Procedures for Researchers Using Archival Records and Secured Collections policy.

Historical Note

In March 1889, Sorosis, a women's club in New York City, founded by journalist Jane Cunningham Croly, held a national convention of women's clubs to celebrate its twenty-first anniversary. During the convention, the delegates voted to form a General Federation of Women's Clubs. Among the attendees was the Kozy Klub of Bridgeport. The following April, Sorosis sponsored another meeting of clubs interested in joining the new federation. Delegates from three Connecticut clubs were among those representing sixty-three women's clubs: the Waterbury Woman's Club, the Willimantic Woman's Club, and the Saturday Club of New London.1 A constitution for the federation was adopted on April 24, 1890, in which the federation's stated mission was to "…bring into communication with each other the various women's clubs throughout the world, in order that they may compare methods of work and become mutually helpful."2

From its beginnings, the General Federation of Women's Clubs displayed a wide range of interests. At its biennial convention in 1896 in Louisville, Kentucky, reports were heard from departments and committees on Literature, Education, Home, Philanthropy, Social Economics, Finance, and Sociology. Papers presented at the convention ranged in subject matter from "Household Economics and the Chemistry of Body-Building" to "Women in Trades and Professions."3

The Connecticut State Federation of Women's Clubs was organized on April 20, 1897 through the initiative of the English Literary Club of Bridgeport and the efforts of Mariana Slade Hopson, the State Chairman of Correspondence for the General Federation. One of the oldest and most distinguished associations in the state, the Bridgeport club organized a meeting with other Connecticut clubs. Representatives of forty-seven organizations, numbering around one hundred delegates, met in the parlors of the South Church of Bridgeport. After registering the member clubs and drafting a constitution, the delegates elected its first officers. Mrs. T.K. Noble4 of Norwalk served as the state federation's first president from 1897-1900.5

The Connecticut federation's objective was to "…bring the women's clubs of the state into communication for intellectual culture, mutual help and social union, and to extend their influence in such matters as may properly come before them for improvement in homes and communities."6 Like its national counterpart, the Connecticut federation demonstrated a breadth of interests and community involvement. The first Official Directory of the state federation, published in 1900, lists several standing committees, including Civics and Village Improvement, Industrial Conditions, and Education, including Travelling Libraries, and Art Interchange. Among the standing committees in 1900 was also one for the Investigation of Connecticut Guardianship Law. The women of the Connecticut federation were particularly interested in the aspects of the law that governed parental rights over minor children. The state federation's Committee on Equal Parental Rights reported extensively to a meeting of its Board of Directors on December 27, 1900, persuading the Board to hire a lawyer to draft a bill to be placed before the Connecticut General Assembly on equal parental guardianship.7

Child welfare and the rights of women continued to be important concerns of the Connecticut federation. In a 1906 presentation to the federation's council about "Vital Questions before the Biennial Convention," club member Mary Williams Phipps addressed the problem of child labor, saying that "It is being urged that the government appoint a child labor bureau…"8 On a national level, General Federation member and Hull House founder Jane Addams simultaneously advocated for the creation of child labor laws. At the same meeting where Mrs. Phipps gave her presentation, Mrs. Frank C. Porter of New Haven read a paper titled, "What Can We Do for Our Factory Girls." In November 1907, the efforts of the state federation to help female factory workers culminated in the appointment of the first female factory inspector in the state.9

The Connecticut federation has also evinced a strong interest in environmental conservation. In 1901, the federation formed a Forestry Committee which, in 1906, supported "Forestry Reservation Bills" for the purpose of planting trees "in waste places free of charge."10 Under the administrations of four different statewide presidents, the federation raised funds to purchase fifty acres of land in Barkhamsted that were donated to the State of Connecticut in 1938, as an addition to the People's Forest. Known as "Constitution Grove", the land was donated as a tribute to Connecticut as the Constitution State. In 1965, in concert with the Sears Roebuck Foundation, the Connecticut Federation of Women's Clubs established the Greenwoods Nature & Conservation Camp for Girls. Three years later, the federation's Conservation Department worked with the Connecticut Girl Scout Council to present a "Cadette Conservation Day," intended to help the state's Girl Scouts become aware of the importance of environmental conservation.

The organizational structure of the Connecticut federation has evolved and solidified, over time. Standing committees that were founded at the start of the organization were renamed as "departments" in 1923, and the federation was incorporated under Connecticut law in 1926. Within a few years of its founding, the federation renamed its board of directors as an executive board, and, in 1928, formed an executive committee to handle any emergency business between meetings. In addition, the federation created, at its inception, a council comprised of the presidents of the federation's individual clubs, whose purpose was to "consider and promote such measures as shall be for the interests of the Federation."11 The communication gap left by the dissolution of this council in 1974 was filled partially by the publication, beginning in that year, of the federation's first statewide guidebook for individual club leaders, Pointers for Participation. The federation's official policy of cooperating on two-year State Projects, instituted in 1972, has also helped the organization maintain its cohesiveness and purpose. In 1984, in order to more accurately reflect its connection to the worldwide General Federation, Connecticut's organization changed its official name to the General Federation of Women's Clubs of Connecticut, Inc.

Other forces, however, have sometimes undermined the unity of the statewide organization. In the 1970's, growing tensions between the Connecticut federation's older members and its Juniors and Juniorettes (composed, respectively, of women 40 years of age, and under, and of girls between the ages of 11 and 18) led to a meeting in April of 1979, mediated by Mrs. J. Frank Bryant, the First Vice President of the national General Federation. This and other attempts at reconciliation were unsuccessful, and all of the Junior and Juniorette Clubs left the Connecticut federation during 1979. Their departure constituted a significant loss in membership for the organization: in May of 1979, total statewide membership had been 12,708, but in May of 1980, the total statewide membership was down to 8,942.12

Despite losing over a quarter of its members, the federation continued its involvement in a wide variety of activities. In keeping with the federation's early interest in women's and children's well-being, the organization during the 1980's raised funds for and awareness of battered women and sexually abused children. In May of 1986, at the end of a two-year statewide project, the federation donated $7,000 to Paul & Lisa, Inc., a non-profit organization for the prevention and rehabilitation of sexually abused children. From 1988 through 1990, the federation supported the work of the Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation, the only guide dog school in New England. During the following decade, the federation focused its efforts on supporting literacy, Alzheimer's research, and Alpha Home, a shelter for women recovering from addiction and substance abuse.

Along with its support of already established programs, the federation has also responded to events and crises, as they have occurred. In 2001, following the terrorist attacks on the United States, the federation worked with Discovery Toys to donate hundreds of copies of a book called The Next Place to schools, libraries, and to families of the victims. The Next Place uses comforting language to describe "the next place" after death. In 2011, in response to the growing problem of cyberbullying, the federation adopted an anti-cyberbullying resolution at its state convention and urged Governor Malloy to support new anti-cyberbullying legislation in the Connecticut General Assembly. The federation states on its website today that "Our goal is to be of service to others, improve our social, cultural and physical environment and promote appreciation of the arts. We strive to become responsible leaders in our communities." These comprehensive goals have not deviated far from the federation's stated purpose in 1897.


  1. 1 Patricia Andrews, A Century of Women in Volunteer Community Service: The History of the General Federation of Women's Clubs of Connecticut, Inc., 1897-1997, vii, series 4, box 2, folder 12, General Federation of Women's Clubs of Connecticut Records, RG 142, Connecticut State Library.
  2. 2 Jennie Cunningham Croly, The History of the Woman's Club Movement in America (New York: Henry G. Allen & Co., 1898), 98.
  3. 3 Ibid., 172-173.
  4. 4 Records often list married members only by their husbands' first names.
  5. 5 Andrews, iii.
  6. 6 Mariana Slade Hopson, "Article II, Constitution", series 1, box 1, volume "Minutes of Board, Council and State: April 20, 1897-Nov. 9, 1900", p. 15, General Federation of Women's Clubs of Connecticut Records, RG 142, Connecticut State Library.
  7. 7 Mary Louise Barroll, "Minutes of the 22nd Meeting of the Board of Directors, Connecticut State Federation of Women's Clubs", series 1, box 1, volume "Minutes of Executive Board Meetings Nov. 7, 1900 - May 23, 1914", pp. 4-5, General Federation of Women's Clubs of Connecticut Records, RG 142, Connecticut State Library.
  8. 8 Mary Williams Phipps, "Vital Questions before the Biennial Convention," series 1, box 1, volume "Minutes of Annual and Council Meetings, May 10, 1901 - June 9, 1916", p. 77, General Federation of Women's Clubs of Connecticut Records, RG 142, Connecticut State Library. Mary William Phipps served as the president of the Connecticut State Federation of Women's Clubs from 1908-1912.
  9. 9 Connecticut, Public Acts Passed by the General Assembly of the State of Connecticut,
    (Hartford, Conn.: Office of the Secretary of State, 1842-1929), 850. [CSL call number KFC3625.A22, 1907]
  10. 10 Eva Child Mason, "Minutes of the 53rd Meeting of the Executive Board of the Connecticut State Federation of Women's Clubs," series 1, box 1, volume "Minutes of Executive Board Meetings, Nov. 7, 1900 - May 23, 1914", pp 77-78, General Federation of Women's Clubs of Connecticut Records, RG 142, Connecticut State Library.
  11. 11 Mariana Slade Hopson, "Article III, Section IV, Constitution," series 1, box 1, volume "Minutes of Board, Council and State: April 20, 1897-Nov. 9, 1900", p. 17, General Federation of Women's Clubs of Connecticut Records, RG 142, Connecticut State Library.
  12. 12 Shirley G. Meo, "Membership Report, CSFWC State Convention, May 6, 1980," series 1, box 28, folder 2 of 2 "Conventions and Conferences, 1978-1980", General Federation of Women's Clubs of Connecticut Records, RG 142, Connecticut State Library.


34.50 cubic feet


The Connecticut State Federation of Women's Clubs was founded on April 20, 1897 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The purpose of the federation was to bring women's clubs from around the state into greater communication with one another to increase their members' participation in social, intellectual, and civic activities. From its beginnings, the federation demonstrated a wide breadth of interests, including home economics, literacy, environmental conservation, and the rights and well-being of women and children. In 1984, in order to more accurately reflect its connection to its worldwide parent organization, the federation changed its name to the General Federation of Women's Clubs of Connecticut. The records consist of minutes, correspondence, press books, scrapbooks, programs, directories, sound recordings, videos, and removable media.


Series 1. Administrative Files, 1896-2012

Series 2. Publications, 1898-1972

Series 3. Press Books and Scrapbooks, 1897-1957

Series 4. Centennial, 1995-1998

Series 5. Photographs, 1976

Series 6. Artifacts, 1897-2011

Series 7. Sound Recordings, 1953-1963

Series 8. Videos, circa 2009-2010

Series 9. Removable Media, 2008-2010


The following accessions were donated by the General Federation of Women's Clubs of Connecticut to the Connecticut State Library:

Accession 1986-034 was donated on October 28, 1986.

Accession 1987-029 was donated on May 15, 1987.

Accession 1992-089 was donated on June 25, 1992.

Accession 1996-018 was donated on January 31, 1996.

Accession 2001-028 was donated on July 29, 1996.

Accession 2002-022 was donated on July 16, 2001.

Accession 2002-085 was donated on December 10, 2001.

Accession 2003-018 was donated on September 19, 2002.

Accession 2005-007 was donated on November 10, 2004.

Accession 2009-008 was donated on September 4, 2008.

Accession 2013-024 was donated on January 10, 2013.

Accession T001324 was combined into T001355 in April 2013.

Accession 2016-009 was donated on November 13, 2015.

Processing Information

Lisa Lipshires, a graduate Library and Information Science student intern from Simmons College, processed a portion of the collection in January-April 2013.

RG 142, General Federation of Women's Clubs of Connecticut
Inventory of Records
Finding aid prepared by Lisa Lipshires.
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Connecticut State Library Repository