Chautauqua Women's Club Collection

Cover Image:
Eleanor Roosevelt and Anna Pennybacker on CWC Porch
Eleanor Roosevelt and Anna Pennybacker on CWC Porch

Collection Facts


Historical Context

The Chautauqua Women’s Club, founded in 1889, has enjoyed a long, proud and vital history as an integral part of the Chautauqua experience. At their beautiful clubhouse on the lake at the Chautauqua Institution, opportunities are provided to enhance social connections, to participate in lifelong learning and to promote and support the arts and education.

The Chautauqua Women’s Club’s history is closely linked not only to the Chautauqua Institution’s development but also to growing national movements of the time including Temperance, Women’s Suffrage, the League of Nations, the Women’s Relief Corps and the National Service School, the National Federation of Women’s Clubs and other financial, health and social programs. During the economic Depression of the 1930s, the Chautauqua Women’s Club and its leadership were instrumental in securing funding from John D. Rockefeller, Jr. to save the entire Chautauqua Institution from  bankruptcy.

As a consequence, many famous women were a part of the history of the Chautauqua Institution and the Chautauqua Women’s Club including members as well as speakers and visitors such as U.S. First Lady and humanitarian Eleanor Roosevelt, suffragist Susan B. Anthony, social reformer Jane Addams, Frances Willard, leader of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, Julia Ward Howe, suffragist and lyricist of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic”, suffrage leaders Anna Howard Shaw and Carrie Chapman Catt, aviatrix Amelia Earhart, investigative journalist Ida Tarbell, and Mary Livermore, abolitionist, teacher and organizer of the U.S. Sanitary Commission during the Civil War. More contemporary guests and speakers have included personalities as far ranging as television journalist Jane Pauley to several visits by retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor who was the first woman in history to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court