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Women’s clubs leave lasting impact in Petoskey

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Little Traverse Historical Museum
The Women's Federated Clubs were active in Petoskey in the early 20th century.

Women’s clubs of the early 20th century dominated the social lives of middle and upper class women.

The Women’s Federated Clubs was a national organization that coordinated many smaller, locally focused clubs, says Little Traverse History Museum Executive Director Jane Garver.

“Within the Federated club, they had the Art Study Club, the Curtis Park Club, the Mothers Club…there's one called the Good Times Club- so lots of different clubs within one umbrella,” she said.

The groups were mostly concerned about civic issues, particularly issues affecting children.

“They worked for school improvement by providing funds for art,” Garver said. “They bought a piano for the high school, they provided a nurse for the elementary school.”

Even though the effects from the school projects can be harder to track, the ladies did their part to leave lasting impacts in Petoskey as well.

“If you go to Pennsylvania Park...and you see the memorials to the soldiers from World War I,” said Garver. “Some of those types of projects...are still evident today.”

They also improved Mineral Well Park by adding a fountain and pavilion, along with planting a few trees.

The Women’s Federated Clubs helped the global community as well.

“The ladies spent a lot of time knitting for soldiers in World War I,” Garver stated, “They adopted French orphans and Belgium orphans in 1915.”

Overall, Garver says, it’s fascinating to learn about what women in the past were doing for their community.

“And to know [that] what you might be doing today, for your community, could have a lasting impact.”

Garver will give a virtual presentation on the Women’s Federated Clubs on Tuesday, September 21st. It’s part of North Central Michigan College’s Lifelong Learning Series.

You can register for the virtual event here.