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Sorosis Club rules in 1869

Sorosis (est. March 1868) of New York City was the first professional women's club in the United States.


The club was organized in New York City with 12 members in March 1868, by Jane Cunningham Croly.[1] Among its founding members[2] were Josephine Pollard, a children's author, and Fanny Fern, a popular columnist who had been angered at newspaper women being excluded from the all-male New York Press Club when it had an honorary dinner for the author Charles Dickens the month before.[1][3] Sorosis was incorporated in January 1869. Alice Cary was the first president. Within one year, Sorosis had 83 members. Along with Boston's New England Woman's Club (also founded in 1868), Sorosis inspired the formation of women's clubs across the country.[4]

The Sorosis ... was organized ... to promote "mental activity and pleasant social intercourse," and in spite of a severe fire of hostile criticism and misrepresentation, it has evinced a sturdy vitality, and really demonstrated its right to exist by a large amount of beneficent work. ... These ladies pledged themselves to work for the release of women from the disabilities which debar them from a due participation in the rewards of industrial and professional labour ... I believe it has been the stepping-stone to useful public careers, and the source of inspiration to many ladies.

— Emily Faithfull, 1884[5]

Sorosis is a latinate word meaning 'aggregation' (from the Greek sōros, meaning ‘heap’). Its object was to further the educational and social activities of women by bringing representative women of accomplishment in art, literature, science, and kindred pursuits.

Early members of Sorosis were participants in varied professions and political reform movements such as abolitionism, suffrage, prison reform, temperance and peace. Sorosis expanded into local chapters beyond New York City in the early twentieth century and the various chapters went on to organize war relief efforts during both World Wars. Peacetime activities included philanthropy (such as support for funding the MacDowell Colony), scholarship funds, and social reforms (such as literary training for immigrant women). In later years, Sorosis focused its activities on local projects, raising money for the aid of other women's clubs, funding scholarships for women, and aiding local rescue missions.[4]

Sorosis was among the 63 clubs that formed the General Federation of Women's Clubs in 1890.[6]

The University of Texas at San Antonio houses a collection of records for the San Antonio chapter of Sorosis. The collection spans the years 1923 through 1991 and provides information about the club's members and activities primarily through minutes, photographs, scrapbooks and yearbooks.[4]

Notable members[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e The Encyclopedia Americana: A Library of Universal Knowledge, vol. 2, 1920, p. 466.
  2. ^ Croly, Jane Cunningham (1898). The History of the Woman's Club Movement in America, Volume 1. New York: General Federation of Women's Clubs by H. G. Allen & Co. p. 18. OCLC 7178478.
  3. ^ Warren, Fanny Fern: An Independent Woman, New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1994, p. 270, accessed 19 January 2011
  4. ^ a b c "Collection: Sorosis records | Smith College Finding Aids". Retrieved 2020-05-13.  This article incorporates text available under the CC BY 3.0 license.
  5. ^ a b Faithfull, Emily (1884). Three Visits to America. New York: Fowler & Wells Co., Publishers. pp. 18–21.
  6. ^ "History and Mission". GFWC. Retrieved 2020-05-13.
  7. ^ a b c d Willard, Frances Elizabeth, 1839-1898; Livermore, Mary Ashton Rice, 1820-1905 (1893). A woman of the century; fourteen hundred-seventy biographical sketches accompanied by portraits of leading American women in all walks of life. Buffalo, N.Y., Moulton. Retrieved 8 August 2017. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  8. ^ a b c d Binheim, Max; Elvin, Charles A. (1928). Women of the West: A Series of Biographical Sketches of Living Eminent Women in the Eleven Western States of the United States of America. Los Angeles: Publishers Press. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  9. ^ "Dr. Phoebe Jane Babcock Wait - 31 Jan 1904, Sun • Page 7". The New York Times: 7. 1904. Retrieved 4 October 2017.

Further reading[edit]

  • Rakow, Lana F. and Kramarae, Cheris, Women's Source Library, Vol. IV: The Revolution in Words, pp. 243–245

External links[edit]