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Sorosis Records, 1856-1972
31 boxes (12.5 linear ft.)

Abstract:
Women's club. The Sorosis records include by-laws, constitutions, minutes, membership lists, yearbooks, programs, reports, histories, speeches, writings, clippings, subject files, memorabilia, publications, printed material, and scrapbooks. The Records document the club's advocacy of temperance, prison reform, and peace, as well as their programs in art, drama, education, and music. Included are bound copies of Executive Committee minutes (1884-1907, 1937-1965); and committee reports (1886-1947). There are also biographical materials, writings, and photographs of first president Jane C. Croly (1829-1901); material relating to the Women's Congress in New York City (1873-1877); and the Association for the Advancement of Women (established by Sorosis in 1873).

Terms of Access and Use:

Restrictions on access:

The records are open to research according to the regulations of the Sophia Smith Collection.

Restrictions on use:

Copyright to Sorosis Records is owned by Sorosis. Copyright to materials authored by persons or other organizations may be owned by those individuals or organizations or their heirs or assigns. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights. Permission to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use" must also be obtained from the Sophia Smith Collection as owners of the physical property.

Sophia Smith Collection
Smith College
Northampton, MA

Biographical Note
Title page of Constitution and By-Laws of Sorosis, 1869

Title page of Constitution and
By-Laws of Sorosis, 1869

Sorosis is an organization of professional and literary women founded in New York City in 1868. Columnist "Jennie June" (Jane C. Croly) and other women journalists were denied tickets to a New York Press Club event honoring Charles Dickens. The presenters claimed that the presence of the women would make the occasion "promiscuous." Offended, the female journalists founded their own press club, naming it Sorosis after a botanical term referring to plants with a grouping of flowers that bore fruit. The term was meant to symbolize women's determination to transform supposedly delicate and feeble ladies into important members of public society. Jane Croly organized a group of her friends, many of whom were writers, into the club to "promote agreeable and useful relations among women," particularly those who had found "expression in outward life and work." The club's mission was to "establish a freemasonry among women of similar pursuits....[to afford] an opportunity for discussion...the results of which promise to exert an important influence on the future of women and the welfare of society." Historian Karen J. Blair states that the members tended to be "career women who had become keenly aware of sexism in their struggle for professional success."1

New York's Sorosis and Boston's New England Woman's Club (both founded in 1868) inspired the formation of women's clubs across the country. Croly called a national convention of women's clubs in 1869 that eventually led to the formation of the Association for the Advancement of Women (1873) and the General Federation of Women's Clubs (1890).

From the very beginning members of Sorosis have been prominent participants in varied professions and political reform movements such as abolitionism, suffrage, prison reform, temperance and peace. Although the discussion of suffrage was forbidden in an effort to create a safe feeling of unity among the members, many Sorosis members were staunchly in favor of, and involved in, the suffrage movement.

Sorosis expanded into local chapters beyond New York City in the early twentieth century and the various chapters went on to organize war relief efforts during both World Wars. Peace time activities included philanthropy (such as support for funding the MacDowell Colony), scholarship funds, and social reforms (such as literary training for immigrant women). In later years, Sorosis focused its activities on local projects, raising money for the aid of other women's clubs, funding scholarships for women, and aiding local rescue missions. Presidents of the club have included Alice Cary, Jennie C. Croly, Charlotte B. Wilbour, M. Louise Thomas, Ella Dietz Clymer and Jennie de la M. Lozier. Sorosis continues to thrive in New York City with an active charitable agenda.

1: Karen J. Blair, The Clubwoman as Feminist: True Womanhood Redefined, 1868-1914 (Homes and Meier Publishers, New York: 1980): 21.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Sorosis records include by-laws, constitutions, minutes, membership lists, yearbooks, programs, reports, histories, speeches, writings, clippings, subject files, memorabilia, publications, printed material, and scrapbooks.

The Records document the club's advocacy of temperance, prison reform, and peace, as well as their programs in art, drama, education, and music. Included are bound copies of Executive Committee minutes (1884-1907, 1937-1965); and committee reports (1886-1947). There are also biographical materials, writings, and photographs of first president Jane C. Croly (1829-1901); material relating to the Women's Congress in New York City (1873-1877); and the Association for the Advancement of Women (established by Sorosis in 1873).


Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on access:

The records are open to research according to the regulations of the Sophia Smith Collection.

Restrictions on use:

Copyright to Sorosis Records is owned by Sorosis. Copyright to materials authored by persons or other organizations may be owned by those individuals or organizations or their heirs or assigns. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights. Permission to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use" must also be obtained from the Sophia Smith Collection as owners of the physical property.

Preferred Citation

Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection:

Sorosis Records, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, Mass.

Alternative Formats Available

The following records are also available on microfiche in History of Women located in the William Allen Neilson Library: Minutes, 1868-1937; Executive Committee Minutes, 1884-1907; Report of the 21st Anniversary of Sorosis celebrated by a Convention of Clubs held in New York City, March 1889; Selections from the Writings of the Presidents of Sorosis, A Souvenir of the Breakfast at Sherry's, March 30, 1893.

History of the Collection

The bulk of the records were donated in 1968 by the then President of Sorosis Dorothy Valentine Smith. In 1980 and 1987 Helen-Louise C. Fullman donated additional materials including scrapbooks, published material, and anniversary programs.

Accruals:

Periodic additions to this collection are expected and may not be reflected in this record.

Processing Information

Processed by Corey Fabian Borenstein, 2007.


Additional Information
Contact Information
Smith College Special Collections
Young Library
4 Tyler Drive
Northampton, MA 01063

Phone: (413) 585-2970
Fax: (413) 585-2886

Email: specialcollections@smith.edu
URL: https://www.smith.edu/libraries/special-collections
Language
English

Series Descriptions
(1868-1965)
5.25 linear ft.

This series is divided into two subseries: General meetings and Executive Committee meetings each of which is arranged chronologically. The General Meeting minutes include both Social Days and Business Days. Earlier minutes (1868-1925) are bound. Printed cards listing the questions for discussion at specific meetings are also included.

(1870-1985)
2 linear ft.

This series is divided into three subseries: Programs, Committees, and Yearbooks. The Programs subseries contains printed programs for meetings between 1883 and 1913. The Committees subseries consists of material related to the twenty-one committees that have been active in Sorosis at various times between 1879 and 1967. The committee records are arranged alphabetically. The Yearbooks subseries contains yearbooks printed by Sorosis that consist of lists of the members and officers, and by-laws. Some of the yearbooks contain schedules of events for the upcoming Sorosis year. There is a broken run of these yearbooks, 1889-1914; 1935-1983.

(1871-1973, n.d.)
.75 linear ft.

This series has two subseries: Anniversaries and Writings and publications. The first subseries includes reports of anniversary celebrations (1872-90) and anniversary programs (1871-1979). The twenty-fifth, seventieth, seventy-fifth, and hundredth have their own sections and are arranged chronologically. There are also photographs from the hundredth anniversary located in Oversized box 30. The Writings and publications subseries contains books and essays on the history of Sorosis written by its members as well as press clippings pertaining to Sorosis history. Of particular interest is a history by Jennie June Croly, Sorosis: Its Origins and History (1886).

(1894-1950)
.75 linear ft.

There are two subseries in this series: Presidents and Other officers. The Presidents subseries contains information on two early presidents of Sorosis: Charlotte Beebe Wilbour and Jane Cunningham Croly. The former consists of speeches by Wilbour and an address by Deborah Jackson McLeod about Wilbour (1973), and the latter consists of a biography of Croly written by her daughter, and Memories of Jane Cunningham Croly "Jennie June" compiled by members of Sorosis after her death. In addition there are selected annual reports by the President which provide a record of Sorosis activies as well as lists of the presidents (1897-1901). Other officers contains reports of additional officers including the Recording Secretary, the Vice President, the Corresponding Secretary, and the Chairman of Reception. It also contains "Chairman of Executive's Work" by E.F. Turtle, a description of the work taken on by the Chairman of the Executive in 1929.

(1868-1975, n.d.)
.75 linear ft.

This series contains three subseries: Lists, Writings and Membership Corporation Law. Included in the Lists subseries are the earliest membership list (1870-71), membership and attendance lists (1868-1968), typed "Who's Who" (1947-8 and circa 1980), a binder of biographical information about deceased members (circa 1975) and death notices (1967-71). The "Who's Who" contains education, birth and death dates, and profession as well as information about the member's activities within Sorosis. The Writings subseries contains writings by Sorosis members. These include unpublished manuscripts (1893-1966), miscellaneous publications (1932-1964), and three books written by Gladys Ewing Combes. The Membership Corporation Law is an old statute of the State of New York that was combined into the current Non-For-Profit Corporation Law and dictates how an organization may be formed. The Sorosis copy of the Membership Corporation Law is fragmentary, containing only sections 6, 11, 14 and 15 and is undated.

(1869-1966)
.5 linear ft.

This series consists of publications produced by and about Sorosis and includes clippings and articles (1886-1901); The Women's Cycle (1890); Sorosis Monthly Bulletins (1955-78); Esther Herrmann Testimonial (1902); Sorosis Verse (1938); and Sorosis: A Federated Woman's Club (1982).There are additional publications in SERIES V. MEMBERS.

(1885-1937)
.5 linear ft.

This series contains information and materials pertaining to the Women's Congress, the MacDowell Colony, the New York State Federation of Women's Clubs, the Ossoli Circle, the Soldiers and Sailors Club and the General Federation of Women's Clubs. These organizations were affiliated with, or related to, Sorosis.

(1880-1968)
2.25 linear ft.

This series contains books created by Sorosis, including numerous scrapbooks and the Sorosis Valentine Party Book. There are also books and other items given to Sorosis, such as Four Centuries After: Or, How I Discovered Europe by Ben Holt, two gavels, sheet music, a guestbook, awards, items commemorating Sorosis-related events and three portraits of Charlotte Beebe Wilbour, one painted and two in plaster.

Contents List
SERIES I. MEETINGS



Social and business



Minutes



1868-80

Box 1: folder 1-3
1880-95

Box 2: folder 1-3
1895-1912

Box 3: folder 1-3
1912-22

Box 4: folder 1-3
1921-25

Box 5: folder 1
1925-Mar 1937

Box 6: folder 1-5
Apr 1937- Mar 1943

Box 7: folder 1-6
Feb 1943-65

Box 8: folder 1-6
1968, 1974-76

Box 9: folder 1-2
Questions for Discussion
1884-92, n.d.

Box 9: folder 3



Minutes



1883-1907

Box 9: folder 4-5
1907-37

Box 10: folder 1-2
Apr 1937-65

Box 11: folder 1-6
1965-79

Box 12: folder 1-5
SERIES II. ADMINISTRATION AND ORGANIZATION



Programs



1883-94

Box 12: folder 6
1895-1913

Box 12: folder 7
Articles of Incorporation, Constitution, and by-laws
1874

Box 12: folder 8
Committees



Art
1947-48

Box 13: folder 1
Civics
1942-48

Box 13: folder 2
Current Events
1896-1967

Box 13: folder 3
Drama
1886-1948

Box 13: folder 4
Education
1895-1961

Box 13: folder 5
Executive



Annual reports and correspondence
1927-50

Box 13: folder 6
Procedure and Duties
1970-73

Box 13: folder 7
History
1968

Box 13: folder 8
House and Home
1886-1903

Box 13: folder 9
International Relations
1943-45

Box 13: folder 10
Knitting (WWII)
1944-45

Box 13: folder 11
Legislative
1944-49

Box 13: folder 12
Literature
1945-50

Box 13: folder 13
Membership
1944-48

Box 13: folder 14
Motion Pictures
1944-47

Box 13: folder 15
Music
1894-1950

Box 13: folder 16
Nominating
1894-1922

Box 13: folder 17
Poetry
1943-49

Box 13: folder 18
Reception
1945-47

Box 13: folder 19
Resolutions
1879-97

Box 13: folder 20
Science


Box 13: folder 21
Special and Non-permanent


Box 13: folder 22
World's Columbian Exhibition[18?]93
1892-

Box 13: folder 23
Special occasions
1874-98, n.d.

Box 14: folder 1
Yearbooks



1868-85

Box 14: folder 2
1889-1914

Box 14: folder 3
1935-83

Box 14: folder 4-5



Anniversaries



Reports
1872-90

Box 14: folder 6
Programs



1871-1929

Box 15: folder 1
1930-72

Box 15: folder 2
1955-79

Box 15: folder 3-4
Twenty-fifth
1893

Box 15: folder 5
Seventieth
1938

Box 16: folder 1
Seventy-Fifth
1943

Box 16: folder 2
1967

Box 16: folder 2


Box 16: folder 2
A Century of Sorosis, 1868-1968 by Marguerite Dawson Winant, (2 copies)
1968

Box 16: folder 3
Correspondence
1968

Box 16: folder 4
Writings and publications



Croly, Jennie June, Sorosis: Its Origins and History,
1886

Box 16: folder 5
Fairfield, Frances Gerry, The Clubs of New York: with an account of the origin, progress, present condition and membership of the leading clubs; an essay on New York club-life [includes Croly, Sorosis Its Origins and History]
1873


Ross, Isabel, "Historical Ladies on Parade"
n.d.

Box 16: folder 6
Allen, Elizabeth Akers, "Backward, turn backward, oh Time in Your Flight"
1890

Box 16: folder 7
Speeches, plays, and press clippings regarding Sorosis history
1954-66, n.d.

Box 16: folder 8
SERIES IV. OFFICERS






Charlotte Beebe Wilbour



Speeches



"Soul to Soul"
1856-58

Box 16: folder 9
"The Inviolable Home"
1873

Box 16: folder 10
"Address at the Third Anniversary of Egyptian Women"
1887

Box 16: folder 11
"Why We Ask the Ballot"
1871

Box 16: folder 12
"Honor Among Women"
1871

Box 16: folder 13
Address by Deborah Jackson McLeod about C. Beebe Wilbour
1973

Box 16: folder 14
Jane Cunningham Croly



President of Sorosis - Mrs. Croly, biography by her daughter


Box 17: folder 1
Memories of Jane Cunningham Croly "Jennie June",
1904

Box 17: folder 2
President's Annual Reports
1930-48

Box 17: folder 3
Presidents of Sorosis
1897-1901

Box 17: folder 4
Officers



Officer's Annual Reports
1894-1950

Box 17: folder 5
Turtle, E.F., "Chairman of Executive's Work"
1929, n.d.

Box 17: folder 6
SERIES V. MEMBERS



Lists



Roll of Members
1874, 1891-1963

Box 17: folder 7-8
Membership
1870-71

Box 17: folder 9
Attendance and membership (bound)
1868-1968

Box 18: folder 1
"Who's Who" in Sorosis
1947-8, circa 1980

Box 18: folder 2-3
Deceased members of Sorosis
circa 1975

Box 18: folder 4
Death notices
1967-71

Box 18: folder 5
Writings



Unpublished manuscript
1893-1966, n.d.

Box 19: folder 1
Miscellaneous publications
1932-64

Box 19: folder 2-3
Combes, Gladys Ewing


Box 19
Homespun
1946

Box 19: folder 4
It Is Christmas
1958

Box 19: folder 4
A Poetry Pilgrimage Through Europe
1951

Box 19: folder 5
Membership Corporation Law
n.d.

Box 19: folder 6
SERIES VI. PUBLICATIONS



Clippings and articles
1886-1901

Box 19: folder 7
The Woman's Cycle
1890

Box 19: folder 8
Monthly Bulletins
1955-68

Box 19: folder 9
Monthly Bulletins
1969-78

Box 20: folder 1
Esther Herrmann Testimonial
1902

Box 20: folder 2
Sorosis Verse
1938

Box 20: folder 3
Sorosis: A Federated Woman's Club
1982

Box 20: folder 4
SERIES VII. RELATED ORGANIZATIONS



Women's Congress (A.A.W.) Programs
1873, 1887

Box 20: folder 5
MacDowell Colony, Sorosis studio: photograph
n.d.

Box 20: folder 6
New York State Federation of Women's Clubs

[see also SERIES VIII. MEMORABILIA]

1894-1951

Box 20: folder 7
Ossoli Circle: A Chronological History, 1885-1960 by Sadie Boyd Saxton and Elizabeth Skaggs Bowman,
circa 1960

Box 20: folder 8
Soldiers and Sailors Club, New York City: correspondence
1924-37

Box 20: folder 9
General Federation of Women's Clubs

[see also SERIES VIII. MEMORABILIA]

1920-24

Box 20: folder 10
SERIES VIII. MEMORABILIA



Awards
1890-1966

Box 21: folder 1
Guestbook
circa 1880s

Box 21: folder 2
Miscellaneous material for scrapbooks: correspondence
1876-1920

Box 21: folder 3
Sheet music



"Sorosis" by Anne Boul
1982

Box 21: folder 4
"Little Ioccate" by Elsa A. Stiefel
1964

Box 21: folder 4
"Happy Birthday" by Elsa A. Stiefel
1964

Box 21: folder 4
"Don't Be Sorrowful Darling" by Alice Croly and A.J. Abbey
n.d.

Box 21: folder 4
Sorosis Valentine Party Book
1869

Box 21: folder 5
Four Centuries After: Or, How I Discovered Europe by Ben Holt,
1893

Box 21: folder 6
99th Anniversary: photographs
1967

Box 22: folder 1
Women's Clubs Commemorative Postage Stamp Binder
1966

Box 22: folder 2
New York State Federation of Women's Clubs 119th Anniversary Scroll
1987

Box 22: folder 3
Portraits of C.W. Wilbour


Box 23
Gavels (2)


Box 23
Scrapbooks



1896-1904

Box 24
Sorosis Inter-American Committee
1916-25

Box 24
1905-29

Box 25
1930-47

Box 26
1947-60

Box 27
1960-71

Box 28
circa 1959-77

Box 29
1970-73

Box 29
Miscellaneous unidentified
1905-30

Box 30

Search Terms
The following terms represent persons, organizations, and topics documented in this collection. Use these headings to search for additional materials on this web site, in the Five College Library Catalog, or in other library catalogs and databases.

Subjects
  • Cary, Alice, 1820-1871
  • Cary, Phoebe, 1824-1871
  • Croly, J. C. (Jane Cunningham), 1829-1901
  • General Federation of Women's Clubs--History--Sources
  • Hanaford, Phoebe A. (Phoebe Ann), 1829-1921
  • Literature--Societies, etc.--New York (State)--New York
  • MacDowell Colony--History
  • New York (N.Y.)--Clubs--History--Sources
  • New York (N.Y.)--Intellectual life--History--Sources
  • Sorosis--New York (N.Y.)--History--Sources
  • Temperance--United States--Societies, etc.
  • Wilbour, Charlotte B. (Charlotte Beebe), 1833-1914
  • Women in the professions--United States--History--20th century--Sources
  • Women--United States--Social conditions
  • Women--United States--Societies and clubs--History--Sources


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