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Women’s Club Holds Its Final Meeting

By Staff | Nov 19, 2013

WOMENS CLUB - Members of the Women’s Club presented checks to the Emmetsburg Education Foundation as well as the Emmetsburg Public Library on Friday, November 8, 2013. They gathered around the grandfather clock that had been presented to the library by the Friday Club in 1912. The clock was purchased with the proceeds from the performance of opera singer Madame Ernestine Schumann-Heink. Pictured from left to right seated: Mick Conway and Shirley Weisbrod. Standing from left to right: Ann Carney, Ann Stillman, Mary Abels, Verna Hanson, Marilyn Carlstom, Brian Garrels, representing Emmetsburg Education Foundation, and Nathan Clark, Emmetsburg Library Director. --Kate Myers photo

After 119 years of existence, the Women’s Club in Emmetsburg had decided to disband.

The club, known as the Women’s Club since 2000, has its roots in two earlier clubs Fortnightly Study Club and the Friday Club.

The history of the Friday Club goes back to 1894 when two of its charter members decided they needed a study club. Originally called the Public Opinion Club, by 1896 it had reorganized with 27 members. At that time, the club adopted the name of Friday Club. According to information provided by long time member, Marilyn Carlstrom, “Mind unemployed is mind unemployed” was their motto. They traditionally supported schools and education because they believed in being educated themselves.

A review of their records and reports showed that the group was very involved in causes of the time.

In 1897, the club performed their first civic duty by presenting pictures to the public schools. They also worked to educate themselves and the women of the community on parliamentary law so they could be effective in the fight for women’s suffrage.

Early in 1909 local clubs were asked to raise money for cleaning and deepening the beaches on the west and south shore lines of Five Island Lake and its adjacent park. The Friday Club raised $346.76 for the project.

During both World Wars the group worked together to contribute to the effort. Among their activities, they used proceeds from the Christmas teas to purchase war bonds and support the Red Cross.

During the 1930’s, they used part of the money from their treasury to buy glasses for children whose parents could not afford them. As an example of their interest in world events and changing technology, they recessed a meeting early in order for the membership to listen to the abdication of King Edward VIII, which was broadcast on the radio.

Two fundraisers were held during the years of 1964 -1965 and the club proudly raised enough money to equip the emergency room of the Palo Alto County Hospital.

In the early 1970’s, the club embraced the notion of recycling and for a number of years had a newsprint recycling program which gave them steady income for their community work.

Beginning late in the 1960’s, the group began supporting the Junior College, now known as Iowa Lakes Community College. Over the years they completed several successful fund raising projects. In 1983 and again in 1988, the Friday Club made quilts which in-turn generated funds for the college’s scholarship fund. Their support of the college continues today.

On Friday, Nov. 8, 2013 the group held their last meeting. During that meeting, members of the club made presentations to the Emmetsburg Public Library as well as the Emmetsburg Education Foundation. The Women’s Club also has given to the Iowa Lakes Community College’s scholarship fund.

Reflecting on the impact that the Women’s Club has had on the Emmetsburg community, Margaret Carlstom said, “We had many members hold leadership positions in the community throughout the years. We promoted education, philanthropy and fellowship through our club, striving to accomplish the goals set by our early sisters.”

She added, “Typical of other women’s clubs in the area, we wanted to help the community.”