WHRC News — August 2023

Summer 2023


Chairman: Celene Post
Committee Members: Carla Pyle, Mary Kaye Ernest
International President: Deb Strahanoski

WHRC Librarian: Joanna Church

First, a warm welcome to those who signed up at last month’s Convention to receive our quarterly WHRC newsletter! WHRC News is a great source for updates from the Women’s History and Resource Center in Washington, DC, in addition to what comes from the WHRC Committee and your state WHRC chairs.

What’s New at the WHRC

The biggest news here is that we have a date for our 40th anniversary party: May 1st, 2024, from 3-6 p.m. here at HQ. Stay tuned for more details on the event, including info on how to register to attend in person or virtually. We’re looking forward to celebrating forty years of women’s history preservation and access, and to honoring the clubwomen who made it possible, especially International Past President Juanita M. Bryant (1982-1984), who made the WHRC a priority and shepherded the idea into reality.

Then-Vice President George H.W. Bush officiated at the WHRC opening ceremony on May 1, 1984, along with GFWC International President Juanita M. Bryant (1982-1984). Presidential photo collection, PRES 1982-1984.013-10

The months leading up to the celebration will not be idle! One pre-Anniversary initiative relates to other 40-year GFWC milestones: If 2024 will mark your 40th year as a clubwoman, or if your club or clubhouse turns 40 next year, we want to know about it. Use this form to submit stories and photos, or email them to whrc@gfwc.org with the subject line “40th anniversary,” to join in. Merchandise is on the way as well, featuring the new anniversary graphic that was introduced at Convention: another batch of our embroidered work totes will be on Marketplace soon, and brand-new enameled pins are on their way.

To keep up with the WHRC in between newsletters, don’t forget to follow the GFWC Facebook page for “WHRC Wednesdays” (along with all the other great content throughout the week). If you’re on Instagram, the WHRC has its own account where you’ll find even more historical and preservation-related material.

Research Report

The WHRC is open for researchers, and we’re starting to explore volunteer opportunities as well. We’re very fortunate to have a dedicated WHRC Committee who have twice donated their time – and travel funds – to spend several days helping out in the Archives, working on updated inventories of our rare books, magazines, and CIP submission collections. This assistance means we can improve our cataloging and make materials more accessible – allowing researchers to more quickly and easily discover what we have for them. And researchers are interested! We recently welcomed Dr. Julie Cotter of Australia, who is working on a biography of her fellow countrywoman Portia Geach (1873-1959). Geach was an artist and suffragist who attended several GFWC events in the 1910s-1930s. Materials in our archives provided confirmation of Geach’s travels and gave context to her work. We were very glad to be able to assist Dr. Cotter, and we look forward to adding her book to the Research Library sometime next year.

Miss Portia Geach listed as a member of the Australian delegation at the Sixth Quinquennial Convention, International Council of Women, held May 4-14, 1925 in Washington, DC. The program can be found in our Reference Library collection.

HQ Highlights

The research into the history of our Headquarters buildings here in Washington, DC is ongoing, and it’s a continual source of excitement. Many of our clubwomen are familiar with the backstory of our central building, 1734 N Street, built in 1875 and purchased by GFWC in 1922. Less well-known is the fact that we also own the rowhouses on either side: 1738 N Street, which we bought in 1952, and 1728, purchased in 1959. These three buildings each had long histories, with many residents and purposes, before we moved in; those stories are now part of our history, and it seems like there’s always something new to discover.

Left to right: 1728, 1734, and 1738 N Street, circa 1965. By Chase Studios. Photo collection, HQ EXT 017

A recent example: While researching one of the families that lived at 1738 N Street, the Zolnays, we came across several photos of them in the Library of Congress collection. Closer examination showed that a 1925 photo of Margaret Zolnay in her dancing costume was in fact taken in the backyard of 1738 – and that you can see the Solarium windows of 1734 behind her. (If only our then-President, Mary Belle King Sherman (1924-1928), had happened to be looking out the window at that moment!) This delightful and unexpected find helps us to humanize our Headquarters and remind us of the many interesting lives that the buildings have witnessed over the years.

Left: Margaret Zolnay, posed in the backyard of her home at 1728 N Street, 1925. National Photo Company collection, Library of Congress. Right: GFWC Design and Publications Manager Candice Gill was kind enough to reenact Margaret’s pose for the sake of comparison.

Search the Collections

Archival, photograph, and object collections: PastPerfect database

Club histories and reference library: TinyCat database

Contact the WHRC: whrc@gfwc.org

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