The University of Southern Mississippi -- McCain Library and Archives
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Collection Title: Women's Club of Hattiesburg
The Woman's Club of Hattiesburg was orgainized in September, 1909 by a group of prominent Hattiesburg women. The club was admitted to the State Federation of Women's Clubs in October of that year, and to the General Federation of Women's Clubs in April of 1914.
The General Federation of Women's Clubs inspired many elite urban southern women:
"Club experience has been the university in which they have learned about themselves and other women and have seen men as one of the species and not as individual husbands and fathers. They have gained respect for their own opinions, toleration for the opinions of others and the necessity of cooperation for the successful accomplishment of all aims. They have discovered the needs and weaknesses of themselves and their homes and have learned how to improve both. Their knowledge has been increased....Gossip has decreased because clubs have given women better things to think about, and having seen the need of the world, they have become interested in striving to make their own part of it a little better" (Ann Firor Scott, The Southern Lady Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1970, p. 115). Scott, Anne Firor (1970) .
The women's club movement occurred among wealthy and middle-class women as a result of the extension of the woman's domestic sphere. The initial impulse was a hunger for education and involvement in civic issues. The earliest clubs were almost all literary and self-help, which generated concern for understanding history and politics. The emphasis then shifted to civic and social concerns, such as better education for children and better conditions for working-class women, and social concerns led them to become interested in politics. Overall, the Hattiesburg Woman's Club seems to fits into this general description of women's clubs (see scope and content).
Membership in the Woman's Club of Hattiesburg did not exceed thirty persons. Funds of the organization were derived from membership dues and special contributions, and the objective of the group was to "provide social and literary entertainment for its members and to aid in community betterment." The club encouraged its members to "bind together...spare hours by the cord of some definite purpose...[and to] think quietly, talk gently, and ever in confict obey the nobler impulse."
Club presidents during the 1920'S included Rebecca O'Neal Tatum, Mary Pierce Folkes Cameron, Elizabeth B. Hightower, and Mary Ella Bishop Marriner. Presidents between the years 1960-67 include Mrs. W.D. McCain, Mrs. Ray Musgrave, and Mrs. Frank Mathews.
This chronologically arranged collection consists of year books of the Woman's Club of Hattiesburg dating from 1920-1967. These yearbooks list officers, committees, and members. Also provided in the yearbooks are outlines of the history, constitution and by-laws of the club. Included as well in these documents is information about forthcomming programs, social events, and business meetings.
The year books were prepared by the Executive Committee, for the ensuing club year, and outlined programs and social events such as Christmas parties, teas, "Sew and Chat" sessions, and community beautification projects.
Folder one contains four year books that date from 1920-1930. Annual "study subjects" addressed at monthly programs reflect the ladies' interest in national issues and identity, including such topics as "American Reconstruction Problems", "American History by Epochs", "American Literature: Past & Present", and the "Story of England."
Folder two holds five year books (1930-1937) which list officers, committees, and also contain poetry about Mississippi. The programs presented include subjects that range from interest in public issues such as "International Relations: Immigration" and "The South", to Victorian domestic concerns such as "Leisure Moments of Great People" and "Highlights of Mrs. W.S.F. Tatum's Vacation."
The eight year books (1940-1950) in folder three note the active charter members, which include Mattie Hawkins Heidelburg and Minnie Thrash Tatum. Study subjects comprise topics such as "Famous American Jews", "Art", "Red Cross & Defense Work", and "A Changing World Perspective".
Year books for 1950-1960, located in folder four, no longer contain a brief history of the club, as the previous year books had. Still listed are the officers, committees, members, by-laws, and the constitution. Also a shift in arrangement of programs occurs: there is no longer a designated annual central topic of study, but rather compartmentalized categories of discussion such as "World News", "Household Hints", "Socials", "Book Reviews", and "Medicine". Also, worth reading is the foreword in the 1950-1951 yearbook which discusses the role of the Woman's Club in providing order in a chaotic post World-War environment.
Year books in folder five span the time period 1960-1967, and no longer list programs, but rather focus on presenting information concerning social events and business meetings.
This collection would be of interest to any researcher investigating the history of womens' organizations, as well as the social life and customs of Hattiesburg's elite.