Wakefield, MA: 1906-1922. Three legal-size ledgers measuring approximately 8 x 13 inches, all spines perished. Comprised of a total of 343 handwritten pages in a variety of hands. Ledger 1 (1906-1907) with 64 pages, some apparently lacking or out of order; Ledger 2 (1907-1911) with 125 pages; and Ledger 3 (1919-1922) with 152 pages and accompanied by 2 loosely inserted handwritten pages from 1913. An incredibly rich and detailed document tracing 16 years in the life of a women's organization run by suffragists and philanthropists, for the benefit of veterans and their families.
Working in concert with the United Spanish War Veterans, the Women's Auxiliary was initiated to aid soldiers and to minister to the sick near the turn of the century. Membership was open to mothers, wives, daughters, and sisters of those fighting, as well as to nurses and to women employed in military service. Its operations continued after the war ended, with the Auxiliary adding to its mission the pursuit of benefits for widows and dependents of fallen soldiers, charitable and social events to draw veterans together, and other public good including donations to libraries. The present ledgers begin in 1906, the year of the founding of Wakefield, MA's Corporal Charles F. Parker Camp; over time, on November 12 of 1906 the Auxiliary group is renamed the Mrs. Edmund Rice Auxiliary, with entries continuing through 1922.
Across the ledgers' 343 pages and the 16 years they document, multiple women take up the task of secretary recording meetings, roll calls, officer votes, and projects. Louise M. Parker, the first, was a member of the National Woman Suffrage Association as well as a leader in women's clubs (LOC MSS 34132.24.15). The next secretary who appears, Minnie Gihon, the wife of camp founder and the National Commander of the USAWV, was a cornerstone of the local Wakefield community. The last secretary to appear, (Anna) Myrtle Feindel, was the wife of a nearby dairy farmer, according to the 1920 census. Each of these women contribute to the narrative of the group. In early years, Parker writes of the group's inaugural decisions, including bylaws, charitable priorities, and elections. Over time, the women take roll-calls, follow Roberts' Rules of Order in their meetings, and initiate an internal audit of the books to ensure accuracy for future readers. Additional relief funds carry through WWI. And by the time woman accomplish suffrage nationally, the group has become a well-oiled machine, giving its members practice in advance for the leadership roles now opening up to them as citizens.
An incredibly dense and research rich piece. Research potential is vast, including but not limited to the foundation of women's clubs, the relationship between women's philanthropy and women's rights organizations, the role women's employment and education played in shaping clubs and the community, women's positions as community leaders shaping library contents, healthcare policy, and social safety nets, genealogical research, and the role of women at time of war or in the military. (Item #3312)