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Wheaton Junior Woman's Club History

The Wheaton Junior Woman’s Club was established in 1949 under the guidance of the Woman’s Department Club of Wheaton. The priority of the club was to help the community. The original 56-member group met monthly at Trinity Lutheran Church on Main Street. “Pray for Peace Day” was one of their first endeavors and was held to promote peace and to end the Korean War. Other projects organized by the club included Bingo at the DuPage Convalescent Center beginning in 1953, involvement in the “Miss Wheaton Belle” pageant from 1960 to 1987, the first Holiday Harvest Bazaar in 1968 and the 1993 inaugural season of Rising Stars Buddy Baseball, a camp for children with mental and physical disabilities. Today, the club continues its efforts in improving the community through fundraising, service and philanthropy. 


The Wheaton Junior Woman’s Club is affiliated with the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC), an international organization with clubs in all 50 states and more than a dozen countries. The club also belongs to the 5th/6th District of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs - Illinois. 


GFWC Formation History

Jane Cunningham Croly is considered the founder of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. A professional journalist, Croly was denied admittance to a dinner honoring novelist Charles Dickens based on her gender. In response to her experience, she founded a club for women and named it “Sorosis”, a Greek word meaning “an aggregation, a sweet flavor of many fruits”. The year was 1868. 


In 1890, Jane Croly invited women’s clubs from around the United States to participate in a ratification convention in New York City. Sixty-three clubs attended and took action to form the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. 


Over the years, the GFWC has played an integral part in United States history. Some of the causes supported by the organization include fighting against child labor; supporting juvenile court law; influencing the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906; supporting workers’ rights including the eight-hour workday, workplace safety and workmen’s compensation; initiating a survey of the American home which led to the inclusion of homemaker as an occupation on the 1930 United States Census; founding over 474 free public libraries and being credited with establishing 75 percent of America’s public libraries; supporting the Equal Rights Amendment; participating in the conference to form the United Nations; supporting a nationwide Federation campaign for street lighting to prevent crime and accidents; instituting programs to protect and preserve endangered species; actively supported the passage of the Violence Against Women Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act and legislation supporting handgun control; and most recently GFWC members contributed $180,000 for a fully-equipped ambulance for the New York Fire Department after the loss of equipment as a result of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Notable GFWC Clubwomen include: 


Jane Cunningham Croly - founder of the Sorosis club for women and organizer of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs 


Julia Ward Howe - author of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”, she was a prolific writer and leader in the suffrage movement 


Jane Addams - founder of Hull House, a leader in social reform and a leader in the suffrage movement. Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1931 


Mary Belle King Sherman - known as the “National Park Lady”, aided in the creation of the National Park Service in 1916 


Eleanor Roosevelt - was a first lady, social reformer, columnist, teacher and political activist, served on the first U.S. delegation to the United Nations (UN) and drafted the Declaration of Human Rights while chairing the Human Rights Commission for the UN 


The General Federation of Women's Clubs is an international women's organization dedicated to community improvement by enhancing the lives of others through volunteer service. GFWC continues its tradition of addressing social issues affecting women and families through programs that combat violence against women and promote human rights. 



Information above is from the General Federation of Women’s Club’s website: 

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