The Ladies Library Club of Athens was organized in 1897. In a paper written by Mrs. J. Wesley Havens, April 15, 1941, I found how the club came about.
Prior to the LLC, there was a club known as The Progress Club.
Mrs. Thurston, Mrs. Stockbridge, Mrs. Maurice and a number of ladies in the Progress Club were talking and discussing its possibilities as a social force in the community.
Mrs. Stockbridge said, “Do you know I have an ambition to help start a club like the one in Kalamazoo which founded and maintained the public library?” One of the other ladies responded that was already one of her dreams and that she had asked Mr. Spalding if such a club might always have a home here.
After the gift of this building was assured, Mrs. Thurston who was then the president of the Progress Club said, “Well, then my part must be to disband our Progress Club and reorganize.”
This she promptly did and arranged for that gala day, when meeting at the home of Mrs. Maurice, they founded this Ladies Library Club.
It was Mrs. Maurice who gave the club the fitting motto: “The Greatest Good to the Greatest Number”
Every woman in Athens enrolled as a member! Its incentive was the establishment of the Athens Public Library. The objective was to afford and encourage useful and entertaining reading, to provide literacy and scientific lectures and other means of promoting moral and intellectual improvement in Athens and vicinity.
The club color was green.
The state theme was “It shall not perish.”
The newly organized club met every Tuesday in the Masonic club rooms until the library building was finished. From the program of the very first meeting I found the officers:
President: Mrs. C.S. Maurice
First Vice President: Mrs. O.E. Hovey
Second Vice President: Mrs. R. E. Lowe
Secretary: Miss Elizabeth Bristol
Treasurer: Mrs. J. W. Murrelle
Critic: Miss Julia F. Carner
General Chairman: Mrs. L. M. Park
I laughed out loud to see each of the married women addressed by their husband’s name! It was the way it was.
There were four committees formed, each with four chairmen and several members. They were:
History: “The best result to be derived from history is the enthusiasm it kindles.”
Art: “Art is nothing but the highest sagacity and exertion of human nature.”
Literature: “Literature is the grindstone to sharpen the culture, and to whet their natural faculties.”
Science and Education: “While bright-eyed Science watches round.”
Each group provided the study for one Tuesday each month.
Some examples for discussion were: Our Duty to the Immigrant, Life and Times of Fenimore Cooper, High Cost of Living, and National Parks. As you can see, it was diverse!
In the early years, the club had teas, Christmas parties and even “field trips.” They entertained clubs of surrounding towns. “Friendship increases by visiting friends.”
The club was disbanded in 1995. Some members during the more recent years included Mary Hogan, Evelyn Keir, Genevieve Coon and Irma Keir. 98 years! What longevity!
I found this poem among the many letters and clippings:
Would you like to feel you’re living? Join the library club.
Would you help the world by giving? Join the library club.
Would you have good work done? Get your club.
Show dark corners to the sun? Get your club.
Now for satisfaction, surely, We’re the club.
Bound in one by friendship, purely, We’re the club.
Many hearts that beat together,
Come dark days or sunny weather: Ask us, we will tell you whether.
We’re the Club.
To learn more about what they studied and presented to the group, see our archives.
The Tioga Point Museum is open from 12-8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the year. You are invited to come explore!