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Posts Tagged ‘suffrage’

All this month we’re bringing you stories from North Carolina women’s history. Check back here each week day for a new tidbit on the women of our state’s past.

Clubwomen played an important role in shaping North Carolina life during the 20th century. Their influence extended to the ballot box, the workplace, public health, library development, the arts, conservation and literacy.

The North Carolina Federation of Women’s Clubs, as the “oldest, largest, charitable, non-denominational, nonpartisan service organization of volunteer women in North Carolina” was organized on May 26, 1902, on the campus of Salem Academy. The charter called for the promotion of education and for civic, cultural and social activities that would better the state. The original departments of work were education, library extension, village improvement and state charities.

Gertrude Weil recalled the meeting: “Women were not so accustomed in those days to leave their homes to attend meetings, and still less to leave their home-towns. Having no husband nor children to neglect by my absence, I was free to go . . . We arrived in Winston—by rail of course—at night . . .Our respective hostesses met us and whisked us off—in surries. . . That was the first annual meeting of what has become the biggest, strongest organization of women in the State.”

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Wiel

All this month we’re bringing you stories from North Carolina women’s history. Check back here each week day for a new tidbit on the women of our state’s past.

Perhaps North Carolina’s best known woman suffrage leader, Gertrude Weil came from a long line of social, religious and political activists. Educated at Smith College, she returned to her native Goldsboro and involved herself in several associations, becoming a protégé of women’s rights advocate Sallie Southall Cotten.

As a founder and the first president of the North Carolina Suffrage League Weil tirelessly advocated for the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. Over time, Weil became a mainstay of practically every private effort connected with social welfare. Following in the footsteps of her mother, she advocated child labor legislation and spearheaded fundraising for Jewish projects relief projects.

Wiel and Others

By the 1960s Weil was well into her eighties, but that didn’t stop her from taking an active role in race issues. In an ironic twist the North Carolina legislature approved the 19th Amendment in May 1971, which she had fought for the in the 1910s, the same month Wiel died.

Read more about women’s suffrage on NCpedia, and see more images of Wiel in the State Archives

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