Center Woman's Reading Club Collection
Items researchers might find of particular interest include yearbooks dating back to 1916, minutes books beginning in 1906, several years of proceedings for the Lucy Bridges Junior Reading Club, a membership chart (1914-1975), and three scrapbooks covering the club from 1908 to 1971.
- Event: Donated 9/30/2011
Language of Materials
Conditions Governing Access
4.50 Cubic Feet
Biographical or Historical Information
Club historians often attribute the Woman’s Reading Club’s dedication to the community as reflective of the vitality and beliefs of one of their early presidents, Christina Bryarly. She was a true social progressive at a time when women’s public lives were still highly circumscribed. Educated in New Orleans, Bryarly wrote for The Champion as the social columnist; was the first female member of the Press Association, and the first woman to be on the Farmers State Bank Board of Directors.
The CWRC is not just a civic organization, however. As noted above, beyond their various outreach initiatives, there is a social aspect to club membership. The Woman’s Reading Club meets roughly twice a month on Thursdays from October through May. The reading for each year is thematic and ranges widely from English literature to Native American history. After taking care of CWRC organizational business, the majority of each club meeting is the presentation a pre-selected book by a designated “hostess,” as well as follow-up discussion. Nowadays the Woman’s Reading Club meets at the home of the “hostess” or at the public library, but this was not always the case. Originally, the CWRC met in public spaces—like the Opera House (1907-1914), the “Women’s Rest Room” (1914-1917), and Polley Hotel parlor.
Membership in the CWRC is highly predicated on participation. At one time, members faced expulsion from the club if they missed 3 consecutive meetings, did not pay dues, or did not volunteer at the library. Women even had to contact the president before leaving town on vacation. While the rules are not quite as strict today, active membership still carries with it the expectation of frequent attendance. Membership in the Woman’s Reading Club is also not an honor to be taken lightly. From 1907 to present, the club limits has limited its size to 20 active members. Associate membership is available only to those women with fifteen or more years of active membership.
Source“History of Woman’s Reading Club.” Compiled by Catherine Davis Pinkston, 1996.
- Guide to the Center Woman’s Reading Club Collection
- Kyle Ainsworth