Woman's City Club Records (KC257)
Returning from her summer vacation, Mrs. James M. Coburn was inspired to found in Kansas City a woman's club similar to one she visited in Boston. After months of talking, a group of 30 prominent women, including Mrs. Henry N. Ess, Mrs. A.T. Hemingway, and Mrs. John H. Kitchen met at Mrs. Coburn's home to form the executive board of that new organization. Two months later, on March 31, 1917, the Woman's City Club held its first meeting with nearly 300 women attending, and elected Mrs. Coburn its first president. The Club was to provide a place where women could meet once a week, and also to serve as a vehicle for civic, philanthropic, and cultural activities to benefit the Kansas City community. By November of 1917, the membership had doubled to over 600 women and a clubhouse opened on the second and third floors of the old Conservatory of Music building at Eleventh and Oak Streets.
With the beginning of World War I at hand, the Club immediately devoted its energies to "lay women's most valued strengths to do war work." Another aim of the Woman's City Club was "to provide an open forum for discussion of important questions." Speakers, among the most prestigious being General John J. Pershing, were regularly invited to address the membership. After the war, in February of 1921, the Woman's City Club moved to a larger, permanent downtown location at 1111 Grand Avenue. Boasting a membership of 1700 women, the new clubhouse offered a large tea room seating 325, a lounge, library, meeting rooms, and a gift shop.
Originally employed as a hostess in the Fall of 1918, Mrs. William J. (Carolyn) Doughty also moved with the Club and her responsibilities grew with time. Her service as executive secretary and her many years of contributions were officially recognized in September, 1943, when the Club announced the establishment of the Carolyn O. Doughty Fund for Children to provide food, clothing, equipment, and other items to needy children of the city.
The Woman's City Club was set up to operate through committees, some of which have remained active since its early years, while others have changed character or disappeared. The Club has done a great deal for the "welfare of the City and State." For instances, in 1929, they established at the General Hospital a mother's milk station. It is estimated that the lives of 500 babies were saved through the distribution of 24,895 ounces of milk. During the Depression, the Club supplied thousands of jars of home canned fruits and vegetables for the needy. The membership also allocated money from a "rainy-day" fund for the purchase of shoes and stockings for the poor. During World War II, a bond booth operating at the clubhouse, in one year sold $201,290.00 worth of war bonds and stamps.
This collection contains the records of the Woman's City Club. The records include minutes, membership information, bulletins, and associated materials. The twenty-seven scrapbooks have been microfilmed. 1917-1987
18 cubic feet
© WHMC-KC, University of Missouri
updated: Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Western Historical Manuscript Collection-Kansas City
(816) 235-1543 WHMCKC@umkc.edu