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[picture: Women's City Club of New York pamphlet]

The Women's City Club of New York was founded in 1915 by women who supported woman suffrage and a greater role for women in American political life. Its membership greatly expanded after the ratification of the nineteenth amendment in 1920, and in 1923 Eleanor Roosevelt became an active member. The club acted as a clearinghouse for political ideas and provided a forum in which women could discuss issues and decide on common political action. In its early years, the club focused on achieving women's right to vote, promoting access to birth control, and lobbying for female admission to established centers of learning. In fact, the club's first pamphlet was a treatise arguing in favor of women at Columbia Law School.

Perhaps more importantly, the Women's City Club brought together some of the most dynamic female political personalities of the early twentieth century. In addition to Eleanor Roosevelt, women like Molly Dewson, Frances Perkins, Helen Hayes and Ida Tarbell were all active participants in the club's campaigns for social reform and progressive government. Some of these members retained strong ties to the Roosevelts throughout their lives and serve in FDR's administration – most notably Frances Perkins, who served as secretary of labor from 1933 to 1945 and Molly Dewson, who, in addition to her activities for the Democratic National Committee, also served on the Social Security Commission.

In the 1940s and 1950s, the club remained active in supporting liberal causes, but increasingly its work shifted from the rights of women to those of children. In 1944, it helped overhaul New York State's child labor laws, and in the early 1950s successfully lobbied for reform of the state's juvenile justice system. As the social unrest of the 1960s gave way to the widespread demand for female equality, the club formed the New York City Commission on the Status of Women and emerged as a vocal supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment in the early 1970s.

Adapting to the changing times, the Women's City Club remodeled itself again in the 1980s and 1990s by focusing on issues like homelessness and improved nursing home care for the elderly. Regardless of how it has changed over the years, the Women's City Club of New York remains an advocacy group for progressive public policy with respect to major urban issues and women's issues.
 


Sources:

Beasley, Maurine H., Holly C. Shulman and Henry R. Beasley, eds. The Eleanor Roosevelt Encyclopedia. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2001, 575-576.

Cook, Blanche Wiesen. Eleanor Roosevelt, Volume One, 1884-1933. New York: Viking, 1992, 362-362, 365.

The Women's City Club of New York City Home Page. Internet on-line. Available From http://www.wwccny.org/aboutus/aboutusf.html.
 

For more information about the Women's City Club, visit the following web site: