Our First Annual Meeting

 
From Our History Books:
The 1st Meeting of the
Woman’s Club of Wisconsin
 
We live in memorable times, and at first I thought last week’s Parking Lot Annual Meeting was probably our most memorable meeting ever. But then I started thinking about Club spirit. And where it came from.
Although our clubhouse is closed, I feel the spirit of the Woman’s Club of Wisconsin. I feel it when I see our members’ strong financial support of the Club. I feel it emanating from member activities, both inside our walls (as I write this a few members are in the Club doing inventory) and outside our walls (masks, food donations, social Zooms, and more). And I feel it when I ponder who and what we are. Good food and drink. Fun activities. Community work. Philanthropic endeavors. Meaningful learning experiences. Fellowship. And on top of that, we are owners of a living museum. 
 
Where did this spirit come from? From the Club's most memorable meeting.

 

Board Minutes 1876 - 1884

Page 1 - October 9, 1876

 

"First meeting at residence of

Mrs. Alexander Mitchell."

 

 

 

In September, 1876 Martha Mitchell (photo) implored Julia Ward Howe, a founder of the Woman’s Club of New England, to travel to Milwaukee to help with the formation of a similar club. Howe came. The meeting was held at Mrs. Mitchell’s home (now the Wisconsin Club). Many of Milwaukee’s leading ladies attended.
 
Want to know what happened at that meeting? You can read Club secretary Mary Mortimer’s minutes by clicking on the photo of the our first Minute Book above. Details of the meeting are scant, but the participants were clear about one thing: Milwaukee needed a club for women. And so we were born. 
 
The members of the new club penned their purpose, no doubt highly influenced by Miss Mortimer, who is considered our original founder.
 
“The object of this Club shall be primarily to elevate and purify our civilization. As means toward this end, it shall seek to excite women to intellectual and moral culture and also to the careful study of the practical arts of our common life. The Club shall in addition seek to offer opportunity for this culture and study and encouragement and a field of activity for meritorious talent.”
 
Today our purpose is written in more modern terms, but reflects the same spirit:
 
"The purpose for which this Corporation is organized is to provide its members with philanthropic, cultural, educational, and social activities. The Woman’s Club of Wisconsin shall be dedicated to the support of, and involvement in, community service and the preservation of its Registered Landmark Building.”
 
How do we feel the Club’s spirit? By carrying forward our purpose. As we have always done and will always do. In that sense, every meeting between or among us -- whether on site or remotely -- is memorable.
 
Our front doors may still be closed, but as we enter our 145th year our spirit is alive and well. Now that's memorable.