The history of the Woman's Club of Evanston speaks for itself. Born to success twenty-tree years ago, the influence of this organization has been far-reaching and its endeavors for good have augmented with the years. The seed of the club was planted by Mrs. Elizabeth Boynton Harbert, whose name will ever live in the annals of this city. Early in 1890 she invited a number of public-spirited women to her home and read with them Julia Ward Howe's essay on "organization of Women," as a stimulus for the undertaking she had in mind. In this address the motto for women's clubs is: "The good of all, the aim of each," and the progress the club has made is indicative of their close adherence to this adage and to that chosen for their body: "In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity." At this meeting officers were elected, and Mrs. Herbert was made president, which office she held for eight years. In 1890 the constitution and by-laws were adopted, and in 1898 the club was duly incorporated in accordance with the laws of the state. It is affiliated with the Visiting Nurse association, Illinois Federation of Women's clubs, Tenth District Federation of Women's clubs, Illinois Congress of Mothers, the Municipal Art League of Chicago, School of Domestic Arts and Science, Cook County League of Clubs, and the Drama League of America. The work of the association in its pioneer days was not, of course, thoroughly systematized, but each year, with the growth in membership and the subsequent increase in revenue, has adequately net the needs of the period. In 1891 a World's Fair department was formed and carried on until 1894 under the leadership of Miss Mary Harris. In 1894 the household and art and literature departments were developed, followed in 1897 by the child and home and a little later by the press. The regular departments now are: art and literature, child and home, and social service; the standing committees are: membership, press, program, rooms, social, auditing, music, legislative, printing and club house. The former presidents were: Mrs. Elizabeth Boynton Harbert, Ph.D., Mrs. T. P. Stanwood, Mrs. R. H. Wyman, Mrs. H. H. Kingsley, Mrs. B. A. Greene, Mrs. Charles S. Raddin and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant, Mrs. Charles E. Clifton holds that office at this time.
Epitome of Club's Work - During the winter of 1895 a course of lectures was given for the benefit of the convalescent Home at Lake Geneva, and the sum accrued thereby was also ample to support a sewing teacher. Northwestern University settlement, the Chicago Commons, Forward Movement Chicago vacation schools, etc., have been their beneficiaries. It was through them that a guarantee of garments manufactured under sanitary conditions was secured from Marshall Field & Co.
Locally they have accomplished much. About the first large piece of work the club did was when it sided the Evanston Emergency hospital. At the suggestion of Mrs. A. L. Butler a hospital committee was formed. They gave at once a kirmess and festival and through it were able to contribute to the fund of the hospital $3,600. A day nursery was established and carried on for awhile; mothers' clubs have been conducted; sewing, household, singing, French and German classes have at various times been presided over by different members of the club or by teachers who have been engaged for the purpose. Thanksgiving and Christmas provisions have through them found their way to those is need. When the necessity of a domestic science course in the public school was felt, the child and home department netted for it a substantial sum by the operetta, "The House That Jack Built." It was through a memorial fund given by one of the members in memory of her daughter that the Visiting Nurse association was founded and the first visiting nurse installed. The first traveling library in the world to be taken in charge by the rural delivery was put out by the traveling library committee. The juvenile court and the probation officers are supported through committees of the club. There are also committees to guard and enforce the ordinances of this city. Two of the chief achievements during the past year were the securing of a half-holiday for the clerks of Evanston, and the appointing of a sanitary food committee which has effected some reform in the matter of merchants caring for decayed vegetables and fruits, the cleansing of ice ream utensils, and the protecting of foods from flies and other disease carrying agencies. a great deal of personal, as well as departmental work has been accomplished that cannot here be enumerated on account of lack of space.
The various departments and committees of the Woman's club of Evanston have planned a full and interesting program for this year. They opened their season by a board meeting, held on Sept. 16. This was followed on the 24th of the same month by a garden party at the residence of Mrs. Alfred H. Gross. The other social affairs will be: Dec. 31, holiday party for children sent by the visiting nurse; Feb. 25, musical and guest day. The Social Service department will have charge of the club meeting in October. A number of distinguished women have consented to speak before the general club meetings. In November at the club meeting Baroness Bertha von Suttner, author of :Ground Arms," pf Vienna, Austria, will address the club; Miss Julia C. Lathrop, national superintendent of the children's bureau, Washington D. C., under the child and home department, will speak on "The Children's Bureau" in January, and in March Mrs. Mary Ridpath Mann will speak on "Napoleon." Classes in French will be conducted this winter under one of Chicago's best teachers. A series of lectures will also be given in french on literature and the drama for more advanced pupils on the language. For many years the meetings were held at the home of Mrs. Harbert, but as their membership grew they had to seek larger quarters. These were found first in the Evanston Boat club and later in the Country club. It was in 1898 that they furnished a suite of rooms in the Y. M. C. A. building, which has been their home until now. Last winter ground was broken at the corner of Chicago avenue and Church street for their new club house, and on May 23 the corner stone was laid by Mrs. Clifton in the presence of a large and appreciative audience. The speakers of the afternoon were Mayor Joseph E. Paden, President A. W. Harris, Mr. James A. Patten, Mr. Herbert, who spoke in behalf of his wife, the club's founder, and the president of the club, who also presided. It is hoped that at least the auditorium of the new abode will be ready for occupancy the first part of December, and on the evening of its opening the comic opera. "Casilda," by Mr. A. Mendenhall, an Evanstonian, will be presented.
The members have labored enthusiastically and earnestly for the new structure. The lot cost $12,000 and the building will have cost approximately, when completed and furnished, $63,000, making a total of $75,000, of which $60,000 has already been raised. Built on the firm foundation of unity, liberty and charity the Woman's club home will stand "by the side of the road and be a friend to man" for many years to come.