Woman's Club of Carbondale (Carbondale, Ill.) | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center
Founded in 1896, the Woman's Club of Carbondale was formed to provide a social forum where local ladies could discuss literature and current events. Having been active for over one hundred years, the Club has documented major events in American and southern Illinois history, highlighting their impact on women's day-to-day activities.
Of the Club's charter members, many were wives of area merchants and professors. In addition to their diverse backgrounds and travel opportunities, Club members would often focus on a region of the globe for discussion at their bi-weekly meetings. Presenters would report on a country's history, government, and citizens, with national music selections occasionally accompanying the program (several members were pianists). Guest speakers were frequently invited to discuss their area of expertise or perform at special functions.
While the Club's operations generally followed a regular schedule, they were modified from time to time in response to national issues. For instance, meetings were canceled in 1918 due to the influenza epidemic and resulting ban on public meetings. During World War II, a committee was formed to sell war bonds and stamps, and the number of meetings was reduced so the ladies could focus on war work. Changes to the schedule were also made for local issues, typically to honor or mark the passing of a member.
Even as larger issues impacted the Club, the Woman's Club of Carbondale has, in turn, left its mark on the community. Surnames of many members and guest speakers now identify structures on the SIU campus, from McAndrew Stadium to Shryock Auditorium. The Club continues to support local organizations, such as the Carbondale Public Library, while its members participate in civic activities individually.