Civilized (Women's Clubs)

Sep 11, 2020

This is Roald Tweet on Rock Island.

When that anonymous philosopher claimed that women's place was in the home, communities around Rock Island were apparently not listening. By 1900, few other areas of the Mississippi Valley offered women as many clubs with which to improve their minds, hearts, spirits, or social status.

It must have been difficult deciding which social circle to move in or what to improve from among the clubs available in 1900. Any ambitious women who decided to do it all would have been gone from home every day of the week.

For a select few, birth gave them entre to the Daughters of the American Revolution or the Iowa Society of Colonial Dames. Others could better their minds and manners by joining the Clionian Club, the first formal women's club in Iowa, or The Parliamentary Club, the Tuesday Club, the S.L.A. Club formed to study Shakespeare, the Arlington Club and the United States History Club for history buffs, or the Dickens Reading Circle, or the Club of Eighty-Nine, begun by Miss Phebe Sudlow, the first woman school superintendent in the United States. There was only one Cuisine Club, but an interest in music could be satisfied by joining the Davenport Music Club, the Etude Club, the Harmonie Society, the Music Lover's Club, the Chaminade Music Club, or the Amateur Musical Club.

Mothers could join the West End Mothers' Club, or the Davenport or Tri-City Kindergarten clubs. A bent for social service could find outlets in dozens of church and private groups dedicated to making life better for others by teaching English to immigrants, and sewing and cooking skills to young women from the country, or by volunteering at several locations that provided places to relax and eat a warm meal for working women now entering the work force.

Unfortunately, for these active Rock Island women returning home after club meetings, there is no record of such equivalent groups as the Men’s Cooking Club, the Husbands' Clean-Up Committee, or the Young Men's Dishwashing Society.

Rock Island Lines with Roald Tweet is underwritten by Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois.