"THE CITY AND COUNTY FEDERATION OF WOMEN'S CLUBS" of San Francisco

REPORT OF THE FOREIGN CLUBS DEPARTMENT

DR. ANNE NICHOLSON, CHAIRMAN

In 1918, the Educational Department of the City Federation of Women's Clubs appointed a committee to formulate plans for Americanization work adaptable to the Federation. Report submitted was as follows:

"It is the sense of the Committee that in order to become most effective in the movement of Americanization, it is necessary that the Federation establish a Foreign Clubs Department.

That this department be formed by the appointment of five members who shall represent this department and clubs under it, until the work for which it is established shall have been completed, or the committee's services are no longer required;

 

 

That the duties of the committee shall be:

(1) To have personal representation from this committee call upon or
meet with any foreign club or organization now existing, but not
represented in the Federation, for the purpose of having them become
members and co-workers in the Federation.

(2) Where foreign organizations exist but do not come within the rules
of the Federation, said committee shall endeavor, by persuasive means,
to have the necessary changes made in such organization to make it
admissible to the Federation.

(3) Where a nationality has no form of an organization as a nucleus to
work from, then said committee shall seek representative women and men
of the nationality and with them take the initiative in organizing a
woman's club and aid them in every way to establish themselves and
become a member of the Federation.

(4) That this committee shall have full power to act along the lines
laid down by the Board of Directors of the City Federation of Women's
Clubs in order that this work may be carried out as expeditiously as
possible.

It is understood, however, that this committee shall not arbitrarily
dictate to any body, organization, or club the kind of work it is to
pursue. They shall rather act in an advisory capacity by giving
suggestions and information as to what other clubs within the Federation
are doing.

The undersigned committee is merely suggesting this plan as something
from which the Federation may commence its work along such lines, and
has taken the liberty of suggesting the mode of procedure by the above
rules. We further would like to recommend that as to the monetary
expenditure for such foreign clubs, it might be advisable not to expect
the regular admission fee to the Federation until such club has become
thoroughly established.

In accordance with the plan suggested, the Board of Directors of the
City Federation of Women's Clubs created the Foreign Clubs Department
and the President appointed by Dr. Anne Nicholson, Chairman of the
Department, and the committee of five members as follows: Mrs. Edwin J.
Hanson, Mrs. Arthur Flood, Mrs. Cora Conklin, Mrs. E. J. Wales, and Mrs.
Ednah Aiken.

The new Department, upon suggestion of Mrs. Aiken, invited the clubs in
the Federation to send lists of women who would be interested in
attending the regular examinations of candidates for citizenship, thus
showing by their presence an interest in the individuals who were
assuming the responsibility of American citizenship, and also hoping to
follow into the homes in many cases and carry to the wives and mothers a
message of helpfulness - a message of friendly advice regarding
opportunities that exist for the study of English, gymnasium classes
perhaps, or community work. This message might be one of invitation to
participate in matters of civic or educational importance. It would, on
all occasions be a message of womanly friendliness.

About sixty women responded and the assignment of dates for visitation
has been in charge of Mrs. Louis Hertz.

The members of the committee have interested themselves individually in
groups of different nationalities and in a purely advisory capacity have
given suggestions and information to these groups as to what other clubs
within the Federation are doing. This work during the first year has
been largely creating a favorable attitude toward participation in the
affairs of the Federation. The committee has had to learn various ways
and means of accomplishing the purposes of the Department. As in every
new branch of work, it was found to be the part of wisdom to proceed
slowly and deliberately, rather than to progress more rapidly at the
expense of creating any misunderstanding or lack of sympathy in
connection with the purposes of the Department.

Members of the committee have been continually surprised to discover
groups living their deeply significant life in a more or less isolated
manner, and not aware that Americans care to learn more intimately of
what they bring from their native lands. It is necessary to express in
some definite way this invitation to share the hopes, the aspirations,
the inspirations, the ideals, the culture with those who have been
longer here. Not only is it necessary to establish the entente cordiale
between each group and the native Americans, but also to bring the
representatives of different civilizations to know one another.

In all cosmopolitan America, San Francisco is the most cosmopolitan
city. It affords opportunity to make the ideal American city. The rugged
Americanism of the pioneer survives in a vital way, in its whole-hearted
hospitality making our city the port of all flags. San Franciscans are
favored like Greeks of old, by having the older cultures brought to
their doors. It was through the marvelous technique learned from Egypt
and the East that Greek genius manifested its own ideals in the
exquisite sculpture of Phidias. Only by intimate contact with older
cultures, and by the appreciation and blending of these was the glory of
Athens realized. Had Greece been spiritually isolated, or had its
egotism and contempt for what was foreign forbidden it to profit by the
opportunities of association with other nations, it would in all
probability have remained a dwarfed, starved, unknown nation.

Realizing the opportunities in San Francisco and the significance of the
proper use of these opportunities for America, the committee, with the
support and encouragement of the worthy president Dr. Cora Sutton
Castle, focused the year's work in an exhibit of folk-craft by different
national groups already affiliated with the Federation or those who will
in the near future become members of the Federation. The members of
those participating and the extent of the exhibit of each was
necessarily limited by the space at the command of the committee.

The spirit manifested by all concerned, the educational value in the
exhibits, the incentive for something more "next time" have all
confirmed the original idea of the committee to make this exhibit the
first of a yearly series, eventually leading to a fete or festival of
national ideals that may give to San Francisco an opportunity to make
coherent the potential efforts for artistic expression present in the
aspiration and latent ability of her varied peoples.

At this exhibit, eight nationalities participated. Mrs. N. P. Damianakes
was in charge of the Greek exhibit; Mrs. A. S. Musante, the Jugo-Slav;
Mrs. Ludwig Olsson, the Swedish; Mrs. Niels Larsen, the Danish; Miss
Margaret Krsak, the Czecho-Slovak; Mrs. Titgen, the Russian; Miss
Monteil, the Spanish; and Mrs. Joseph Keenan, the Italian. Contained as
it was within a small space, one could at a glance make comparison of
their domestic art, which had its origin in the producer taking from
nature the materials and preparing it for the family needs.

From the cold North the designs were mathematical and calculated and
stressed upon durability and the practical as well as beauty; while
further South or where the East had made its influence felt, there were
more curves and elaborate detail of designs and material, all speaking
more eloquently than words the character of the people from whence the
art originated. All attested to the universal desire among all people
for the beautiful, and each expressing this desire with a pious
tenderness for national honor.

Through the efforts of this department, a club of Norwegian women,
"Nora" has become affiliated with the Federation; the work of this group
is philanthropic and social. The Danish women are represented through a
club called "De Gamles Venner" (meaning the old people's friends). Their
work is mainly to establish and maintain a home for the old people of
their own nationality in California.

Contemplative groups for the Federation are the Jugo-Slavs, Russian,
Greek and Spanish. The Swedish and Italian clubs have from its beginning
been members of the Federation.

On the last day of this administration, the Czecho-Slovak Woman's Club
was admitted into membership.



Transcribed by Elaine Sturdevant

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Page last updated June 11, 2002