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McCan who is vice-president of the civil service commission and a member of the efficiency commission.
Running parallel with the municipal activities of women have been similar developments in state and nation. Here, as in the cities, women have exerted powerful influence in securing legislative provision for the enterprises in which they are interested. They have taken positions in state and federal government very similar to those taken by women in municipal activities. If the progress of humanity in general has been that of an unorganized horde, such a condition does not characterize the progress of women within the last two decades. Organized, alert, and trained, they are far more nearly described as being that of a drilled army, if one may use a military metaphor to describe a group of people traditionally the enemies of war.
CIVIC ACTIVITIES OF WOMEN'S CLUBS
BY MARY I. WOOD,
Manager, Bureau of Information, General Federation of Women's Clubs, Portsmouth, N. H.
BY MRS. PERCY V. PENNYBACKER,
President, General Federation of Women's Clubs, Austin, Texas.
Since The Annals is prophetic as well as historic, I desire my foreword to Mrs. Wood's stimulating account of "The Civic Activities of Women's Clubs" to forecast what I hope may be a leading feature of our work during the next two years.
As a country we are almost united upon the fact that the great question facing us is the betterment of rural life. The city problems may seem important, but they are in reality only a drop in the great ocean as compared with the problems that affect the millions of our people who dwell in rural communities. Someone has well said that reforms in a city are mere makeshifts, but that if we reach the masses in the country, we have gone above the rapids, and prevented the terrible destruction that comes from the cataract.
It is not enough for our rural people to produce more in the fruits of the field, they must have opportunity to live more. Especially is this true of the boys and girls, the young men and the young women; their lives must be fuller and richer or the country cannot hold them when the city beckons.
We have had shown at our various fairs and expositions the model community that should exist near every rural school. There is the church with the minister's house hard by, the store, the doctor's home and office, and the school building which is to be used as a social center. Now if this school is to be a success, if this school is to be a real center of the best social life in the community, it must be presided over by a teacher who has at least some degree of permanency. Nothing will sooner give this permanency than a comfortable house, with a plot of ground, where the teacher can have a settled feeling. Even if an unmarried woman she can generally form a home for herself and the visiting nurse, which nurse the community needs solely. Not ten per cent of our people realize the sacrifices made and the difficulties endured by the country school teacher. If we could see the physical discomforts, the poor food, the lack of privacy, the ill-ventilated bedroom, the long walk, the absence of janitor service; in fact, oftentimes, the lack of everything to make life sweeter, easier and healthier, we would wonder that any group of men and women could be found to endure such privations in return for the pittances doled out to them in the way of salaries. The day will come when a poet will rise to sing the virtues and unselfish service of the country teacher.
If the million women in the General Federation would concentrate for the next two years in an effort to bring about a model settlement and especially to establish teachers' homes-school manses-in connection with at least one school building in each county, they would be serving the entire nation.
About four years ago a certain man, high up in America's civic councils, in speaking of the woman's club movement, remarked, "It is one of the greatest, if not indeed the greatest, of the civic forces of modern times," and today that statement would be challenged only by one who either, being blind, has not seen the nationwide civic awakening or, being obtuse, has refused to attribute this awakening to its proper sources.
The club movement was begun nearly fifty years ago as a cultural movement and, as such, was criticized, ridiculed or encouraged according to the state of mind or powers of observation of the critic. It soon became evident, even to the most ardent advocate of the cultural movement, that the service which the club women were to render to humanity was not wholly of a cultural character. Very early the club women became unwilling to discuss Dante and Browning over the teacups, at a meeting of their peers in some lady's drawing room, while unsightly heaps of rubbish flanked the paths over which they had passed in their journeys thither. They began to realize that the one calling in which they were, as a body, proficient, that of housekeeping and homemaking, had its outdoor as well as its indoor application. They soon learned that art, in its best and highest sense, was a thing, not of galleries and museums alone, but that it was a thing of practical, every day life and that, wherever there were cleanliness and symmetry and beauty, there was art in its best and highest sense. They learned that well kept lawns were but the outer setting of well kept houses, and that back yards and back alleys had their places in the great science of home making; they learned that tenement house and factory conditions were but phases of the daily lives of other women; and that juvenile courts and playgrounds and eleemosynary institutions were determining factors in the character of many another woman's child.
It was this knowledge, the extension of the home making instinct of women and the broadening out of the mother instinct of women, that led them out into paths of civic usefulness.
In the meantime, while individuals and individual clubs were learning their duty to their community life, the General Federation
of Women's Clubs was growing to great dimensions until, today, a rough although not exaggerated estimate of the membership, direct, indirect and allied, places the number of women in that organization well beyond a million and a half. A million and a half of women in America, turning their attention toward the betterment of existing conditions, can scarcely be disregarded, the mere fact of numbers alone forcing us to recognize this force as one of the greatest factors in the entire network of civic advancement of America. But this is not a question of members alone: it is a question of determined action and great actual results. There is no loud-sounding slogan; no great creed of many words. It is simply an unchartered but highly contagious epidemic of civic righteousness which has laid hold of the women of America, these wives and mothers who are coming to interpret their duty to their own families in a language which shall be known and read by all mankind. If the club women of America have a slogan, it is "Service;" this one word is at once their slogan, their creed, and their ultimate goal.
No single address or magazine article can do justice to the civic activities of the club women; it is a story in which each community has its chapter, for these activities reach from the lecture course of the small club in the rural community to the many-sided work of the great departmental club whose work is interwoven into every good deed which the great city knows.
Thousands of towns, cities and hamlets can bear testimony to the work of these organized women: there are more sanitary and better ventilated schoolhouses; there are more numerous parks and more cleanly streets; there are district nurses who visit the sick poor in their homes and give instruction in the simple rules of wholesome living; there are sanitary drinking fountains for man and beast; there are vacation schools and playgrounds; there are juvenile courts and equal guardianship laws; there are cleaner markets; there are many free public libraries and thousands of traveling libraries; there is a lessening of objectionable bill-board ornamentation; there is a determined campaign, nation-wide, against the housefly; there is a more intelligent knowledge of the prevention and care of tuberculosis; in short, there is scarcely any movement for the betterment of living conditions or for the social and moral uplift of the American people that has not received a helping hand from the club woman. It is not fair to note examples,
for each single instance might be duplicated a thousand times; nevertheless a few examples may serve to bring these activities in a concrete form before the reader.
In a little town in Iowa the women, who came in occasionally from the farms to do a little shopping, had no place other than the store counter or street corner where they might wait while horses were shod, corn ground, and politics discussed, determined to improve conditions. They organized with committees on: streets and alleys, main street and railroad stations, public health, municipal business, membership and entertainment. One hundred and seven women in that little town joined the club during its initial month. They decided first upon an annual clean-up day: they were housekeepers, all of them, and cleaning house was an annual necessity to their code of morality and life. The committees got to work and streets were weeded; alleys were cleaned up; bonfires put sweepings and papers beyond danger of return; the depot, the loafing corners and the public places were cleared of tobacco juice and other offensive signs of the thoughtless, careless citizen; yards were raked; cans, garbage and brush carted beyond the town limits; ordinances were passed prohibiting offensive practices, and posters were put in all public places; two cement troughs furnished to thirsty and tired animals water where none had been before; the river banks were cleared of brush and sign boards; and finally a four-room cottage was purchased, moved to a central lot, mounted on a cement foundation, ornamented with a cement porch, painted and papered free of charge by the willing hands of the women themselves, furnished by donations of every kind known to the comfortable home, from tea towels to rocking chairs, and the little house became a social center for all kinds of meetings; lectures, private parties, rest rooms-even the city council holds its meetings now in the woman's building. Finally came the library, beginning with one hundred volumes; and this civic club, having been in existence but six years, has well nigh revolutionized one small town and is itself free from debt. Multiply this town by many thousands of other similar examples and think of the civic value of the club movement.
A mere account of accomplishments cannot bring out the value of such endeavor in growth of public pride, in development of a community spirit, and in power of example to the youth. Nor does the woman's club work by itself: the gradual raising of public opinion