Federation Day - April 24
GFWC Federation Day commemorates the official birthday of the Federation. On April 24, 1890, members of 63 women's clubs from throughout the United States came together to form the General Federation of Women's Clubs at a ratification convention in New York City.
Each year, GFWC clubs celebrate this important day in their local communities, states, and across the nation. Projects and activities focus on publicizing GFWC clubs and the work that members do in their communities; recruiting new members by raising awareness about the benefits of belonging to GFWC; supporting volunteer activities with collaborating organizations; and fulfilling GFWC's mission to enhance the lives of others through volunteer service.
In recent years, Federation Day has fallen within Volunteers in Action Week, and GFWC encourages members and clubs to extend their celebration activities to include an entire week of outreach and service.
Click here to download the GFWC Federation Day Celebration Guide (PDF).
History of Federation Day
In celebration of its twenty-first anniversary in 1889, the Sorosis Club of New York City (founded by “Jennie June” Croly) proposed a conference of women’s clubs to pursue the cause of federation. That conference was held in New York City on March 20, 1889, with the goal of preparing a constitution for ratification the following year; sixty-one clubs attended.
Sorosis President Ella Dietz Clymer closed her address at the March conference with the words, “We look for unity, but unity in diversity.”
Clubs that had already applied for membership in the new General Federation of Women’s Clubs were invited to the ratification convention, which was held at the Scottish Rite Hall in New York City, April 23-25, 1890; sixty-three delegates from seventeen states attended. After some discussion and amendments, the constitution was ratified on April 24, 1890, and the General Federation of Women’s Clubs was born.
The first officially recorded GFWC Federation Day celebration appears to be the one held during the Golden Jubilee Triennial in 1940. The following program is described:
On April 24, 1940, the actual birthday of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, a national broadcast was made in the studio of the National Broadcasting Company in Radio City, New York. The president of Sorosis, Mrs. Eugene Willis Denton, spoke for the Sorosis Club of New York, which celebrated its twenty-first birthday in 1889 by starting the organization of the General Federation.
Mrs. Saidie Orr Dunbar, president of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, spoke for the clubwomen of 1940; Mrs. John L. Whitehurst, general chairman, Golden Jubilee Committee, acted as narrator. Mrs. Harold V. Milligan, Radio chairman for the General Federation, introduced Freda Hempel, a former member, Metropolitan Opera Company, who sang two numbers. Miss Margaret Cuthbert spoke for the National Broadcasting Company.
The broadcast was preceded by a luncheon given by the officials of the National Broadcasting Company at which time a huge birthday cake was cut. Similar radio parties were held in all parts of the country.
The celebration of April 24 as Federation Day was added to the GFWC standing rules in 1976.