Book 6 of 8:
The woman's club: a practical guide and hand-book.
By Olive Thorne Miller.
[New York]: United States Book Company, successors to John W. Lovell Company, 150 Worth St., Cor. Mission Place, [1891 or 1892].
Date of publication based on year publisher absorbed Lovell (1891) and date in title page inscription (1892).
116 pages, 19 cm (8vo) -- Signatures: -78 pi8 -- Green cloth covers with gold gilt lettering on spine and front cover, and silver gilt design on front cover. -- Lovejoy Library catalog record.
The Woman's club begins with a nod to Margaret Fuller's "Conversations Club" a half-century before, which fostered women's intellectual autonomy. The woman's club still served a similar purpose. In Miller's words, "It inspires a woman with a wholesome self-respect, and encourages her to help herself to a higher life ..." (p. 20).
Miller presents the woman's club as a widespread phenomenon that serves as a virtual college for middle-aged women. By this time, at the close of the century, 50,000 of their daughters are enrolled in actual colleges (Palmer 105).
The book details different types of woman's clubs. "The Club of Culture" is essentially a book club. The members of "The Reforming Club" adopt social causes. "The Club for Study" is formed to pursue knowledge of a specific topic, such as France or philosophy. Women in the upper and middle social classes participate in woman's clubs. Miller cites an example of an "Uplifting Club" in which the members provide skills training to make working class women self-supporting.
Olive Thorne Miller began her thirty-year career as an ornithological nature writer at the age of 48. She published hundreds of articles and eleven books about birds. Perhaps a woman's club inspired her.
The title page is signed and dated by a former owner of the book: "Mary M. Barclay, 1892."
Palmer, Alice Freeman. "A Review of the Higher Education of Women." Woman and the Higher Education. Ed. Anna C. Brackett. New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1893. 103-130.