:: Riverside Woman's Club Records

Introduction

The Riverside Woman's Club Records consists of eight boxes of materials going back to the club's inception on 7 January 1896. This collection is significant in that it contains detailed information about the oldest service club in Riverside, and is one of the collections that recognizes the significance of women and their activities within and for the Riverside community.

The primary organizers of the Riverside Woman's Club were Mrs. Martha E. Hewitt and Dr. Sarah E. Maloy. Mrs. Hewitt visited Illinois in 1895, and became interested in the Woman's Club movement there. Upon her return, Mrs. Hewitt called upon Dr. Maloy to help establish a club in Riverside. Hewitt and Maloy sent letters of invitation, dated 4 January 1896, to approximately "50 prominent women of Riverside" interested in "forming a woman's club." Initially, eleven women responded to the letter. A club was organized in 7 January 1896 with, according to club records, 16 charter members. Dr. Maloy served as the club's first president, and Mrs. Hewitt served as the recording secretary. Initially, there were four subdivisions of the club: an Art class, a Home class, a Review class, and a Music class. And because the by-laws stated that any five members could form a class, club members decided to add a "Shakespeare" class in 1902. As club membership grew, so too did the number of classes offered. The club joined the General Federation of Women's Clubs in November 1897, and the State Federation in January 1900.

The first club meetings were held in the homes of members. When this became laborious and inconvenient, they made the decision to build their own clubhouse. The clubhouse idea took definite shape in the incorporating of the Woman's ClubHouse Association. The first clubhouse was built using money raised by stock issued to club members and the general community. The Riverside Woman's Clubhouse, on the corner of Main and Eleventh Street, officially opened in 1908. Later, this clubhouse was sold to the Riverside Elks Lodge in 1916. The building was eventually removed from what is now the site of the Hall of Justice. Again, the club rented spaces until 1922, when it opened a new clubhouse on Brockton Avenue and 10th Street. This building was nearly destroyed by fire in October 1956, but was saved, restored, expanded and reopened in July 1957 -- and the club continues to meet, to this day, at this location.

The essential purpose of the club has been the "mental improvement" of its affiliating members, but also includes a number of other interests. Although the club's leading interests are educational and social in nature, it has influenced and assisted other organizations and the city in general.

Numerous clubs and organizations have been connected or affiliated with or received support from the Riverside Woman's Club including The Junior Woman's Club (for women under 35 years of age), The Wednesday Morning Club (which broke away from the club in 1902), as well as, the Red Cross, the Epilepsy Society, and the Riverside Hospital. Although women now belong to service clubs that were once for "men-only" and general membership has dropped since its heyday, the Woman's Club is still active today and continues to serve the community in numerous ways.

The Riverside Woman's Club Records are organized into five series contained in eight boxes. Series I primarily includes financial and business documents related to the club and its functioning as an organization. Sub-series A contains various business documents that include: two official copies of the 1902 and 1916 constitutions and by-laws, as well as club programs, calendars, clubhouse rental records, and miscellaneous business reports and correspondence. Sub-series B contains financial documents encompassing bank statements, checkbooks, canceled checks, financial receipts and receipt books, account books/ledgers, and tax reports. The materials in this series are from various years from 1949 to 1979.

Club record books make up Series II. This series is further divided into sub-series. Sub-series A consists of various minute books from the club classes and activities. There are over 18 minute books from the general meetings covering nearly a century of meetings dated from January 1896 (the very first minute book kept by the club) to 1981. Also included in this series is a minute book for the Music Class (1899-1915) and the Home and Philanthropy Class (1899-1914). Sub-series B includes membership lists and guest books. These books include the names of members, guests, and visitors in addition to the dues paid. Some of the books contain club fees, revenues, and expenditures for each club year (1896-1916).

Scrapbook materials comprise Series III. The series contains two sub-series. Sub-series A is composed of nine general assembly scrapbooks filled with newspaper clippings dating from 1898 to the 1960s. Also, included in this series are four class/committee scrapbooks -- "History:" 1913-52, "Art:" 1953-54, "Indian Affairs Committee:" 1959-60, and "Community Affairs:" 1915-17. Sub-series B consists of one photograph album that contains pictures of specific club leaders from 1899 to 1954.

The next series, Series IV, accommodates miscellaneous materials that are associated with the Riverside Woman's Club. The following items are of special note: a copy of the invitation letter (framed) sent by Hewitt and Maloy concerning "forming a woman's club" dated 4 January 1896, one copy of the periodical The Club Woman dated May 1917, "Favorite Recipes" book compiled by the club ( n.d.), a glass framed plaque of the "Fiftieth Anniversary Scroll" (1952), specifications for the remodeling of the Riverside Woman's Club (1957), photographs, and other miscellaneous items.

The final series, Series V, contains materials, including yearbooks and convention programs, related to the California Federation of Women's Clubs. Also, yearbooks from various clubs throughout the Southern District and the De Anza district are included.

References

Brown, John Jr. and James Boyd. History of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1922.

Patterson, Tom. A Colony for California. Second Edition. Riverside: The

Riverside Museum Associates, 1996.

________. "Out of the County's Past." Riverside Press Enterprise, 7 January 1996.

Riverside Woman's Club Records materials.


Local History