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Sorosis records

 Collection
Identifier: SSC-MS-00356

Scope and Contents

The Sorosis records include by-laws, constitutions, minutes, membership lists, yearbooks, programs, reports, histories, speeches, writings, clippings, subject files, memorabilia, publications, printed material, and scrapbooks.

The Records document the club's advocacy of temperance, prison reform, and peace, as well as their programs in art, drama, education, and music. Included are bound copies of Executive Committee minutes (1884-1907, 1937-1965); and committee reports (1886-1947). There are also biographical materials, writings, and photographs of first president Jane C. Croly (1829-1901); material relating to the Women's Congress in New York City (1873-1877); and the Association for the Advancement of Women (established by Sorosis in 1873).

Dates of Materials

  • 1856-1972

Creator

Language of Materials

English

Conditions Governing Access

The records are open to research according to the regulations of the Sophia Smith Collection.

Conditions Governing Use

To the extent that they own copyright, Sorosis has retained copyright in their works donated to Smith College. Copyright in other items in this collection may be held by their respective creators. For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For those few instances beyond fair use, or which may regard materials in the collection not created by [donor], researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.

Biographical / Historical

Sorosis is an organization of professional and literary women founded in New York City in 1868. Columnist "Jennie June" (Jane C. Croly) and other women journalists were denied tickets to a New York Press Club event honoring Charles Dickens. The presenters claimed that the presence of the women would make the occasion "promiscuous." Offended, the female journalists founded their own press club, naming it Sorosis after a botanical term referring to plants with a grouping of flowers that bore fruit. The term was meant to symbolize women's determination to transform supposedly delicate and feeble ladies into important members of public society. Jane Croly organized a group of her friends, many of whom were writers, into the club to "promote agreeable and useful relations among women," particularly those who had found "expression in outward life and work." The club's mission was to "establish a freemasonry among women of similar pursuits....[to afford] an opportunity for discussion...the results of which promise to exert an important influence on the future of women and the welfare of society." Historian Karen J. Blair states that the members tended to be "career women who had become keenly aware of sexism in their struggle for professional success."1

New York's Sorosis and Boston's New England Woman's Club (both founded in 1868) inspired the formation of women's clubs across the country. Croly called a national convention of women's clubs in 1869 that eventually led to the formation of the Association for the Advancement of Women (1873) and the General Federation of Women's Clubs (1890).

From the very beginning members of Sorosis have been prominent participants in varied professions and political reform movements such as abolitionism, suffrage, prison reform, temperance and peace. Although the discussion of suffrage was forbidden in an effort to create a safe feeling of unity among the members, many Sorosis members were staunchly in favor of, and involved in, the suffrage movement.

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. Peace time 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. Presidents of the club have included Alice Cary, Jennie C. Croly, Charlotte B. Wilbour, M. Louise Thomas, Ella Dietz Clymer and Jennie de la M. Lozier. Sorosis continues to thrive in New York City with an active charitable agenda.

1: Karen J. Blair, The Clubwoman as Feminist: True Womanhood Redefined, 1868-1914 (Homes and Meier Publishers, New York: 1980): 21.

Extent

31 boxes (12.5 linear feet)

Abstract

Women's club. The Sorosis records include by-laws, constitutions, minutes, membership lists, yearbooks, programs, reports, histories, speeches, writings, clippings, subject files, memorabilia, publications, printed material, and scrapbooks. The Records document the club's advocacy of temperance, prison reform, and peace, as well as their programs in art, drama, education, and music. Included are bound copies of Executive Committee minutes (1884-1907, 1937-1965); and committee reports (1886-1947). There are also biographical materials, writings, and photographs of first president Jane C. Croly (1829-1901); material relating to the Women's Congress in New York City (1873-1877); and the Association for the Advancement of Women (established by Sorosis in 1873).

Arrangement

This collection is organized into eight series:

  1. I. MEETINGS, 1868-1965
  2. II. ADMINISTRATION AND ORGANIZATION, 1870-1985
  3. III. HISTORY, 1871-1973, n.d.
  4. IV. OFFICERS, 1894-1950
  5. V. MEMBERS, 1868-1975, n.d.
  6. VI. PUBLICATIONS, 1869-1966
  7. VII. RELATED ORGANIZATIONS, 1885-1937
  8. VIII. MEMORABILIA, 1880-1968

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The bulk of the records were donated in 1968 by the then President of Sorosis Dorothy Valentine Smith. In 1980 and 1987 Helen-Louise C. Fullman donated additional materials including scrapbooks, published material, and anniversary programs.

Accruals

Periodic additions to this collection are expected and may not be reflected in this record.

Existence and Location of Copies

Minutes of Sorosis are available on microfilm, as part of the"History of Women"series, in the Sophia Smith Collection and through interlibrary loan.

Related Materials

The following records are also available on microfiche in History of Women located in the William Allen Neilson Library: Minutes, 1868-1937; Executive Committee Minutes, 1884-1907; Report of the 21st Anniversary of Sorosis celebrated by a Convention of Clubs held in New York City, March 1889; Selections from the Writings of the Presidents of Sorosis, A Souvenir of the Breakfast at Sherry's, March 30, 1893.

Processing Information

Processed by Corey Fabian Borenstein, 2007.

Creator

Title
Sorosis records
Subtitle
Finding Aid
Author
Finding aid prepared by Corey Fabian Borenstein.
Date
2008
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (https://github.com/harvard-library/archivesspace-preprocessor)
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:16-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.

Repository Details

Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository

Contact:
Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063