Woman’s Club celebrates centennial

Club, founded in 1910, to host events, create scholarship

The Woman’s Club of Washington University marks its centennial in 2010, and the club will celebrate by offering special meals, lectures, exhibitions and gifts and creating a new endowed scholarship for undergraduate students.

The club — open to all those affiliated with the university including faculty, staff, alumnae and their spouses/partners or widows and friends of the university — has planned its centennial celebration around the theme of celebrating the history of the Woman’s Club and women at Washington University.

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Commemorative centennial teapots by artist Yael Shomroni are available for purchase through the Woman’s Club.

“The Woman’s Club has spent the past year working to put together a celebration worthy of the wonderful women who have made the Woman’s Club so successful for the past 100 years,” said Margaret Israel, president of the Woman’s Club. “Through the centennial, we hope to bring attention to the accomplishments of the Woman’s Club and, in general, of women throughout the history of Washington University. And, of course, we plan to celebrate in style.”

The centennial celebration kicks off Jan. 29 with “Honoring the Past,” a 1910-style luncheon featuring opera star Ann Hoyt, at 11:30 a.m. at the Saint Louis Woman’s Club. To purchase tickets for the luncheon, e-mail sarks317@sbcglobal.net.

Other centennial events:

Feb. 23: The Women and the Kemper kickoff. At this event, which is free and open to the public, Sabine Eckmann, Ph.D., director and chief curator of Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, will examine works by Pablo Picasso, George Braque, Max Ernst and Max Beckmann.

Meredith Malone, Ph.D., assistant curator, also will talk about the current global art market. The talks begin at 6:30 p.m. at Steinberg Auditorium with a reception to follow at 7:30 p.m. in the museum.

Women and the Kemper is a group formed in partnership with the Women’s Society of Washington University to learn about and encourage women’s participation in the visual arts. It is open to all Kemper Art Museum members. For more information about Women and the Kemper, visit kemperartmuseum.wustl.edu/support.

April 5-10: “A Celebration of Women and Diversity at Washington University in St. Louis.” In recognition of the Woman’s Club Centennial, the Woman’s Club is partnering with the Association of Women Faculty and myriad groups across campus to sponsor a series of lectures and discussions about the Harlem Renaissance, women scholars in social work, women’s influence on the arts, and more. For more information about the series, visit womansclub.wustl.edu/calendar/diversity.

April 7: “A Celebration of Women at Washington University in St. Louis” exhibition opening celebration. This exhibit, curated by Sonya Rooney, university archivist, and Miranda Rectenwald, archives assistant, shows the accomplishments of the Woman’s Club and women at Washington University throughout WUSTL’s history.

It opens at 5 p.m. April 7 in Olin Library with a reception and remarks by Shirley Baker, vice chancellor for scholarly resources and dean of University Libraries. The exhibition, which is free and open to the public, will be on display in the library’s Ginkgo Reading Room and Grand Staircase Lobby through May 24.

April 10: Centennial Gala Dinner and concert. The Woman’s Club Centennial Gala Dinner begins with a wine reception at 5 p.m. April 10 at the 560 Music Center. The seated dinner is at 6 p.m.

The dinner will feature remarks by Israel and Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton. Candace O’Connor — an award-winning writer, editor and documentary producer — will present the keynote address: “Stories of Women in the History of Washington University.” O’Connor has written books on the history of Washington University, the George Warren Brown School of Social Work and St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

For tickets to the dinner, e-mail szcola113@gmail.com.

The dinner is followed by a concert, “Celebration of Women’s History Through Song,” at the E. Desmond Lee Concert Hall at 560 Music Center. The concert, which is free and open to the public, features Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir, a Grammy-nominated percussion-driven vocal ensemble. The group’s music is rooted in the Deep South and strongly connected to their West African and Caribbean origins.

Sept. 29: “Butterfly Garden Commemoration.” The Woman’s Club celebrates the Elizabeth Gray Danforth Butterfly Garden with refreshments for the WUSTL community. The reception starts at noon at the garden, located on Forsyth Boulevard across from the Danforth University Center.

Membership in the Woman’s Club offers women opportunities to form friendships and grow intellectually through luncheons, lectures, tours and women’s programs.

In 1910, during an era of rapid growth for WUSTL, the wives of faculty members at the School of Medicine and what would be the Danforth Campus founded the Woman’s Club to help welcome new faculty members and their families to the University.

In 1946, Chancellor Arthur Holly Compton asked the club to help welcome international women to the campus. The tradition of welcoming women to WUSTL is continued to this day with the help of Risa Zwerling Wrighton, who hosted the annual Fall Welcome Luncheon at Harbison House in both 2008 and ’09.

The Woman’s Club’s efforts have left a lasting mark on the Danforth Campus. Both Eliza McMillan (McMillan Hall) and Christine Blair Graham (Graham Chapel) became honorary members in 1911. The Ann Whitney Olin Women’s Building was funded in part by the Woman’s Club in 1928. In 1996, the Elizabeth Gray Danforth Butterfly Garden opened, with the Woman’s Club as its primary benefactor. The club’s Butterfly Garden Committee maintains the garden.

For more information about the history of the club, a centennial commemorative book, “The Woman’s Club of Washington University Celebrating 100 Years,” can be ordered through the Woman’s Club for $60.

The book was written by Woman’s Club member Magdalin Szabo and is based on the club’s own records, university Archives, private collections and memories. It tells the story of the Washington University Woman’s Club from its beginning in 1910 though the present day.

Also available for purchase are centennial commemorative teapots by artist Yael Shomroni. The teapot features a Woman’s Club Centennial logo stamped on its bottom in black glaze. Commemorative note cards featuring the Elizabeth Gray Danforth Butterfly Garden also will be available for purchase in fall 2010. A portion of the purchase price for both products supports the Woman’s Club Centennial.

For more information about the Woman’s Club and its centennial, visit womansclub.wustl.edu.

For information about membership, e-mail sarantites@gmail.com.