Women's Clubs and Public Progress, June 10, 1914
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following the Chicago meeting the newly organized clubs, between them all, attempted nothing less than to apprehend and to harmonize our common spiritual heritage as enshrined in poetry, in history, in science, in art, in drama, in music, that it might become a great apparatus for the evocation of cultural life.
"It is easy to treat lightly this period of club development, but certainly the constant coordination of these ever multiplying specialized studies reacted on the life and character of each community more deeply and intimately than anything less fructifying could.
Learned to Study and Observe.
"Women learned to study and observe, to make use of the accumulated experience of mankind, to follow life through all its bewildering changes, to rejoice in its variety and richness, to understand it as a vital process.
"Perhaps nothing less universal than those first programs could have made the women's clubs conscious of the tendencies which mark each age for what it is - that summary of its experiences, knowledge, and affections found at the root of social existence, which is called 'the trend of the times.'
"The early biennial meetings held by the federation were gigantic reviews, as it were of the forces engaged in the struggle to assert the strength and beauty of human nature in the teeth of a material civilization which inevitably tends to separate art from industry, intellectual from social life, business from morals.
Collective Energy Needed.
"It always is easy for a democracy which insists upon writing its own program to shut out imagination, to distrust sentiment, and to make short short work of the past. It takes something like a united faith and a collective energy to insist upon their value and to make them operative upon public opinion. Was it the great function of the women's clubs throughout those earlier years to create community of feeling and thought about the world and the way it works - what Prof. James used to call 'like-mindedness' - which is so essential in any effort toward concerted action?
"Certainly when the time for action came it was found the soil had been prepared in which a sound public opinion might be nurtured and that women's clubs were eagerly ready to discuss matters of public policy one after another as they came before the country. Their name is legion, but to select them with some reference to their historic order would be to instance the kindergarten and domestic science for the public schools, prohibition of child labor, the suppression of commercialized vice, and many another.
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