Secrets of the Club Ladies

The Devil Makes You Fat
Phone a Friend

The Clubwoman's Manual coverThe Clubwoman’s Manual
Monro and Monro

Ladies of the club, please come to order. This really is a book from another time.  These clubs have a long tradition of promoting education and charity.  More than one public library out there owes their existance to a ladies clubs. ( The General Federation of Women’s Clubs has an interesting timeline of the history of these clubs. )

This is basically a how-to manual. The part I found amusing is the amount of ceremony involved. This is serious business. My mom has been a part of clubbing for many years, but I honestly thought they just had cocktails and discussed some book or other interesting topic. Any modern club ladies out there want to comment?

I can’t imagine anyone in a modern women’s club finding this info particularly helpful. My personal experience with this topic has usually just involved Robert’s Rules of Order.  I think we can safely weed this in 2014 for some more modern publications. I would imagine the General Federation has materials to help as well.

In the words of Groucho Marx: “I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member.”


The Clubwoman's Manual front flap




  1. The continuous use of masculine pronouns in a book targeted at women is the first thing that stands out to me. I think if this book were published today, it would be more focused on its audience, even in its text.

  2. I would very much like to have this book — one of my fields of interest is women’s organizations. Is the copy you’re featuring available? (I know I can hunt for it on Alibris or other site, but to have a book that was featured on ALB must make it extra special!)

    1. P.S. I’ve administered two libraries founded by women’s clubs. In Brenham, Texas, not only had the Fortnightly Club begun the club, but also when I was Head Librarian the entire library board were Fortnightly members. Four decades later: I am a member of the Zion Woman’s Club, which established the Zion-Benton Public Library but is not at all involved in running it.

  3. I’m picturing ladies in these clubs wearing dresses with white gloves and little hats with veils attached.

  4. Alan C. has it dead on.

    The “women’s clubs” of this era, and a few years before, were portrayed with a mixture of love and devastating satire by famed New Yorker cartoonist Helen E. Hokinson. Routinely, she pictured them as matronly, buxom, overly prim victims of their upbringing, station, era, and status.

    A few examples rounded up from the Web:
    Several of them at–Hokinson.png

    1. That top link goes to a very strange article…But thank you for bringing up Helen Hokinson. I could have sworn I read her cartoons in The New Yorker when I was growing up, but it must just have been her enduring influence, as she died in 1949.

    1. In the most “correct” social usages, they still are. That bothers me less than the ba*tardized usage “Mrs. Mary Smith.” Rather than referring to a woman individually as a lot of people apparently think, that is now tje common way to address a divorced woman (even Emily Post says so), though the traditional usage was for a woman to append her “maiden” name to her ex-husband’s and become “Mrs. Jones Smith.” Presumably another woman would be assuming the title “Mrs. John Smith” and that would avoid any social confusion. But why should the marital status of an individual be indicated at all? It is so much simpler to be “Ms. Firstname Birthname” all my life. I’ve never understood why women choose otherwise in this day and age. It’s such a badge of subordination to give up one’s name! Why should I give up my name if he doesn’t?

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