MA 28




6.26 linear feet ]5 record boxes, 3 document cases]


The General Federation of Women's Club is a non-profit, non-sectarian, non-partisan women's organization with a focus on community service through active volunteer and altruistic pursuits. The collection is composed of administrative material, District V material, including GFWC Brookings and Brookings Civic League, and campaign material for the creation of the South Dakota Memorial Art Center.

Historical Note

The General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC) was founded by Jane Cunningham Croly in 1868 when she began the Sorosis club of New York City. In 1889, she initiated the founding of the Federation by bringing existing clubs together to form a national, mutually supportive organization.

It was through the efforts of Miss Clara D. Coe, founder of the Round Table Club of Deadwood in 1887, that the Black Hills Federation of Women’s Clubs was organized in Deadwood in 1897. This organization joined the General Federation in 1898. The General Federation of Women’s Clubs chose Miss Coe to serve as a Federation organizer for the State of South Dakota. A meeting was called to order on December 8, 1899, at Deadwood and Clara D. Coe was elected chairman of the session. This meeting was adjourned to January 15, 1890, in the Old Syndicate Block in Deadwood, where the South Dakota Federation of Women’s Clubs (now known as the General Federation of Women’s Clubs of South Dakota or GFWC of SD) was organized. The GFWC of SD joined the national GFWC on March 1, 1890. The first annual meeting was held June 14-15, 1890, in Aberdeen and Mrs. Winona Axtell Lyon of the Ladies History Club of Sioux Falls was elected the first President. Thirteen member clubs were reported.

The purpose of this organization is to bring into communication the various non-partisan, non-political and non-sectarian women’s clubs and organizations in the state of South Dakota, to compare methods of work, to insure unity of action and to promote the improvement of moral, intellectual and social conditions. Any women’s club or organization that met these criteria is eligible to join GFWC of SD. The state of South Dakota is divided into six Federation Districts.

Conventions are held annually. This governing body of GFWC of SD consists of the elected officers, the District Presidents, the Editor of the South Dakota Clubwoman, the Historian-Custodian, the Director of Junior Clubs and the Immediate Past President.

The Departments of Work and Standing Committees are arranged to conform to those of the GFWC as far as possible. These committees include the arts, conservation, education, home life, international and public affairs.

Content Notes

The Administration series is composed directories, programs, a constitution and by-laws and the South Dakota Clubwoman newsletters. The South Dakota Clubwoman newsletters make up the bulk of this series.

The General Federation of Women’s Clubs of South Dakota has divided the state into six Federation Districts. District V includes the counties of Marshall, Day, Clark, Kingsbury, Roberts, Grant, Codington, Hamlin, Deuel, and Brookings.

Material in this series is arranged into sub-series: General, GFWC Brookings, and Brookings Civic League.

The General sub-series composed of minutes, reports, programs, club reports, correspondence, clippings, and constitutions and by-laws. The club reports are reports sent to the District V president describing the clubs activities for the year. These are arranged alphabetically by town with all clubs for a town filed in one folder. The minutes, reports, and programs are filed together and consist of minutes from board meeting of GFWC, District V and deal mainly with preparations for annual meetings and conventions. The reports are mainly reports from conventions and the programs are from annual conventions.

The Brookings Civic League sub-series is composed mainly of minutes of the Brookings Civic League. The minutes are dispersed throughout seven ledgers and include meeting minutes, annual reports, treasurer's reports and some correspondence. Also included are an account book and two scrapbooks from the 1970's. One of the scrapbooks is historical in nature and consists of programs from annual conventions of the General Federation of Women's Clubs of South Dakota, clippings, and other memorabilia.

The GFWC Brookings sub-series is composed of minutes, scrapbooks, reports, and photographs and slides.

The Memorial Art Center Campaign Records are composed of correspondence, minutes, financial records, agreements, clippings, and architectural renderings and blueprints.

SDSU Archives and Special Collections

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South Dakota State University Archives and Special Collections, Hilton M. Briggs Library, Brookings, South Dakota.


Copyright restrictions apply in different ways to different materials. Many of the documents and other historical materials in the Archives are in the public domain and may be reproduced and used in any way. There are other materials in the Archive carrying a copyright interest and must be used according to the provisions of Title 17 of the U.S. Code. The Archive issues a warning concerning copyright restrictions to every researcher who requests copies of documents. Although the copyright law is under constant redefinition in the courts, it is ultimately the responsibility of the researcher to properly use copyrighted material.