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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

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The Woman's Club

The Woman's Club

GRHC - March 21st, 2012

The Ladies Literary Club, founded in 1873, was at the leading edge of the women's club movement established for the intellectual and cultural advancement of women.



The first Woman’s club in the United States was Sorosis of New York, founded in 1868 and based on intellectual culture.

The club idea for women was an innovation. Housekeepers, mothers, all-around busy women, were aghast at the idea of spending one whole afternoon a week for self-improvement. Gradually, however, ideas began to change. Women were learning that living should not be measured solely by the number of pies baked on Saturday.

In Michigan the club movement increased rapidly. One began in 1871, another in ‘72, and four in ’73, including the Ladies Literary Club of Grand Rapids, an outgrowth of a class in history. The history class was disbanded in the winter of 1872, but the taste for study and improvement had been ignited. Six members of the class formed a club. They issued a call to women of the city to join them; about thirty responded. By 1890, when membership had reached 500, the club decided no new members would be received until that number had declined.

A substantial story about Ladies Literary Club appeared in the March 1889 issue of Frank Leslie’s Monthly, a popular national magazine. The article related the club’s history and gave a full description of its handsome new building on Sheldon. Also mentioned, a fine portrait of Mrs. Frank Leslie, the famous and sometimes infamous widow, as well as heir to Leslie’s publishing business. The artist, Emma Coppens, presented the painting to the Club.

Full Details

TitleThe Woman's Club
KeywordsWYCE; radio; Grand Rapids; Historical Commission; history; Ladies Literary Club;
Pubdate StringMarch 21st, 2012

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