A SHORT HISTORY OF THE CLUB’S FIRST DECADE, 1913-1923
By Janet C. McCaa '64
After an informal preliminary meeting, the first official meeting of the
Western Maine Wellesley Club convened at the home of Elizabeth Conant ’09, 143 Park Street, Portland, on Thursday, October 23, 1913, at 2:30 p.m. Fourteen Wellesley alumnae were present.
The name “Western Maine Wellesley Club” was the unanimous choice of those assembled. According to the Constitution adopted that day, the Club’s object was as follows (Article II):
“Remembering the benefits we have received from Wellesley College, we desire to advance the interests, influence and efficiency of our Alma Mater by bringing Wellesley women into closer relation with the college and with each other.”
Ever sensitive to political realities, those present elected a President from Portland, Caroline E. Vose '10, and a Vice President from Augusta, Mrs. George R. Campbell (Lilian Hallock Campbell, who apparently failed to graduate). In a business-like manner, the Club proceeded to determine the number of meetings a year (3), the annual dues (25¢), and other matters. The only question left open was the authority to be accepted for parliamentary proceedings “ Robert’s Rules of Order or Emma A. Fox’s Rules of Order. Indicative of things to come, two letters were read, one concerning the College’s endowment and another from undergraduates requesting donations for an upcoming campus fair.
The second meeting of the Club was a $1-a-plate luncheon at the Congress Square Hotel in Portland on March 23, 1914, with 46 present. Those attending heard Prof. Sophie Hart describe how College Hall had burned down just a week earlier. In the words of Recording Secretary Henrietta W. Roberts ’08:
“Miss Hart touched upon every phase of the awful calamity and in simple words fraught with intense feeling called forth from everyone present a desire to show in some material way her love for Wellesley.”
A collection amounting to $75 was offered to the Fire Fund at the close of Prof. Hart’s talk. The Recording Secretary also noted that “[b]ecause this was a social luncheon, all business was omitted.” That notion quickly fell by the wayside, and did not interfere again with the Club’s luncheon meetings.
In the following ten years, Club meetings were held in the afternoon in private homes in Augusta, Brunswick and Portland, as well as at luncheons at the Portland Country Club, the Congress Square Hotel and the Columbia Hotel in Portland, the Eagle Hotel and the New Meadows Inn in Brunswick, the Augusta Country Club, and the YWCA in Lewiston. In 1916 the Club’s annual meeting was a full day’s outing to Poland Springs.
In 1915, the year after the College Hall fire, the Club’s luncheon speaker was Miss Edith Tufts, Registrar of the College, who presented the clear need for money to meet a $3 million goal. The following year, the guest of honor was Prof. Katharine Lee Bates, who delivered a well-received lecture on “Modern Poetry in England.” In January, 1917, the President of the College, Ellen Fitz Pendleton, addressed an alumnae dinner at the Lafayette Hotel in Portland, speaking of the growth and needs of Wellesley, stressing sports and scholarship in her speech.
At the annual meeting in June, 1917, in response to a request from the Washington (DC) Wellesley Club, the Club voted to donate $10 to Red Cross hospital work in France. The Club also discussed aiding the Boston Wellesley Club in reaching its goal of raising $5,000 to help fund a Wellesley Unit, under the auspices of the American Red Cross, to be composed of eight Wellesley alumnae who would sail to France to aid the war effort. The total cost of the Wellesley Unit was pegged at $30,000. During the next year, the Club raised $500 for the Unit and made 202 garments to be sent to the Unit for distribution to refugees.
By October, 1919, annual dues were up to 50¢. At its fall meeting, the Club voted to devote its energies and receipts that year to the relief and reconstruction work of the Wellesley Unit, and to aid Alida Herling, a student at Wellesley from Lewiston possibly brought to the Club’s attention by the Students’ Aid Society. Elisabeth Bass ‘03 of Wilton, a member of the second Wellesley Unit, showed pictures and spoke of her service in France. Shortly thereafter, the Club received word that through collective effort, Wellesley had gone “over the top” by raising $80,000 for the Wellesley Units.
In the fall of 1920, the College announced an $8 million endowment fund campaign leading up to its “50th Birthday” in 1925. The Club promptly responded with a wide variety of money-raising projects: bridges, teas, coffees, sewing-parties, and theatricals. At one meeting a certain Miss Bird ‘85 spoke of the austerity and rigid discipline of her college years. According to Miss Bird (about whom little more is known), Mr. Durant’s ideal was “a girl who wore no bangs, who elected Greek, and who did her own washing.” The Club also raised $800 for Alida Herling, which paid a full year’s tuition and board. The Club’s interest in Miss Herling was amply rewarded. To the great joy of all, she was graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1921, won a splendid faculty scholarship, and began teaching French at Northfield.
In the early 1920s, in anticipation of the College’s semi-centennial, the Club occupied itself with fund-raising and other activities. Dues were raised to $1, and then $2, per year, and the business of the Club continued as usual. In the spring of 1923, the Club obtained a movie about Wellesley from the College and arranged to have it shown in a local movie theater.
In each year of this first decade, a Club representative attended Graduate Council at Wellesley and reported back to the Club, a system that endures to date.
All in all, it appears that the Club got off to a fine start in fulfilling its constitutional purpose.
WESTERN MAINE WELLESLEY CLUB PAST PRESIDENTS
(all classes 1900s unless otherwise noted)
2010-2013 Janet C. McCaa '64
2009-2010 Anne M. Wright '79
2006-2008 Margaret Hathaway Schatz '98 and
Samantha Baker Johnson '94
2003-2006 Christina Freese Oddleifson '57
2002-2003 Elizabeth Locke Dodge '63
2001-2002 Wendy J. Harlan '90
1999-2001 Harriet Rinse Dawson '63
1998-1999 Sally True Haggett '56
1996-1998 Janet C. McCaa '64
1995-1996 Peggy L. McGehee '71
1992-1995 Linda Ofll Freccia '63
1991-1992 Elizabeth P. Patterson '81
1987-1991 Alice Warner Jones '49
1985-1987 Priscilla Gray '71
1984-1985 Leslie Miller Wiltshire '66
1982-1984 Lynn Kraemer Goldfarb '61
1978-1982 Constance Barker Kent '49
1976-1978 Martha Boynton Pawle '49
1974-1976 Jean Tilton Wilkinson '49
1972-1974 Ruth Klein Wolfson '38
1970-1972 Janet L. Johnson Stewart '64
1968-1970 Nancy Potter Bennett '46
1966-1968 Doris McGee Hastings '35
1964-1966 Charlotte L. Berman Wernick '36
1961-1964 Frances Dennett Tiedemann '20
1959-1961 Laura Allen Adams '22
1958-1959 Martha Lydecker Lunt '42
1956-1958 Anne Lord Rogers '34
1954-1956 Barbara Files Laughlin '35
1952-1954 Margaret Wengren Pease '30
1950-1952 Anne Capern Hanscom '35
1948-1950 Edith Koon Sills '11
1946-1948 Lael Terpena King '17
1945-1946 Helen Field Sides '15
1943-1945 Edith Pitt '19
1940-1943 Anne Lord Rogers '34
1938-1940 Rebecca Shaw Stevens '33
1937-1938 Helen Lane Bruce '23
1935-1937 Hattie Brazier Libby '09
1934-1935 Marjorie C. Shurtlef Poole '20
1932-1934 Alice Foster Everett '11
1930-1932 Caroline E. Vose '10
1929-1930 Frances B. White Knox '07
1927-1929 Edith Koon Sills '11
1926-1927 Alice H. Macomber Bodwell '00
1925-1926 Hattie Brazier Libby '09
1924-1925 Edith Koon Sills '11
1922-1924 Frances L. Chapman Champlin 1897
1920-1922 Mabel Wood Little 1899
1918-1920 Isabelle Clark Harmon 1880
1917-1918 Lilian Hallock Campbell
1915-1917 Elizabeth Conant '09
1914-1915 Lilian Hallock Campbell
1913-1914 Caroline E. Vose '10