Local History Collections

Collection ID: LH-69
Location: LH-69

(Description ID: 595183)

Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums

Sorosis Club


Biographical Sketch
Scope and Content

This collection was donated to the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center by Harriet Billau.

Biographical Sketch
On April 18th, 1868, Jane Cunningham Croly of New York, along with Josephine Pollard and Fanny Fern Parton, founded the first women’s club, called Sorosis, meaning “sisterhood” or “unity”. As member Margaret M. Merrill put it, Sorosis “is of women, by women, and for women.”

The purpose of Sorosis was and still is to better the education and sociability of women, to unite them for mutual assistance, to represent women in art, literature, and science, as well as in family matters. Sorosis was formed during the Reconstruction Era following the Civil War (1865-1877), which was a time when African Americans were being emancipated and some were even given voting rights. This new era sparked a want of independence and self-development in women across America.

While no member or guests of Sorosis Clubs are permitted to directly discuss religion or politics, the idea of Sorosis was monumental in its purpose. It gave women the opportunity to socialize with one another, to be involved in the community, and to create their own club politics. It was popular for the local Sorosis division to discuss topics such as poetry, travel, war efforts, and the welfare of citizens.

The Fremont chapter of Sorosis was founded in 1894 and federated in 1902.  The chapter commonly held picnics and dinner outings to socialize with fellow members, as well as large dinners to commemorate Sorosis anniversaries in 1920, 1935, and 1945. While the Fremont Sorosis Club mostly worked within the community, such as campaigning for the purchase of War Bonds during World War II, it also made national relations, such as its ongoing correspondence with famous composer Harriet Ware.  The existence of records beyond 1955 is unknown.

Scope and Content
This collection, spanning the years of 1897-1955, with the bulk of the material dating from 1920 – 1945, consists of 53 annual Sorosis Club programs from the Fremont, Ohio chapter. The collection also contains personal letters of chapter president Harriet Billau from 1914 – 1945. Newspaper articles, minimal meeting minutes and presentation drafts (1920 – 1929), as well as official documents complete the collection.


Box 1









1.  Correspondence (1914-1945)

2.  Meeting Minutes and Drafts (1920-1929)

3.  Club Documents (1920-1945)

4.  Speeches (1911-1945)

5.  Newspaper Clippings