Quilter's Muse Publications
Jane Croly Cunningham: Founder of GFWC and Inspirational Woman
Patricia L. Cummings

The founder of the General Federation of Women's Clubs, Jane Cunningham Croly (1829-1901), was a journalist for the
York Tribune
, whose pen name was “Jennie June,” sometimes spelled "Jenny June." Mrs. Croly was outraged at being banned
from a speech given by Charles Dickens in 1868, on gender bias alone. She vowed to start a club only for women and she
did! Thirty years after that, her book,
The history of the woman's club movement in America, features this hand-written

This book has been a labor of love, and it is lovingly dedicated to the Twentieth Century
Woman by one who has seen, and shared in the struggles, hopes, and aspirations of the woman
of the nineteenth century
." J.C. Croly

In 1994, Jane Croly was inducted posthumously into the National Women's Hall of Fame." Today, the Women’s Club
(GFWC) is still very active as an international group and strives via volunteer work to support Education via fundraising
events dedicated to gathers money for student scholarships. Their work is centered on improving their communities.

Early GFWC President in Franklin, NH

Ellen Webster, Franklin, NH, about whom I wrote a 355 page book that details her life, her work and in particular her lectures
and quilt charts made to share quilt history, was the president of the women’s club in her city. She would have fully
understood and appreciated the meaning and intent of Mrs. Croly's remarks. An independent spirit, Mrs. Webster valued
education highly, and went back to school after her husband's death to receive a master's degree and become a professor at
Wheaton College in Massachusetts.

Equality a Goal

During the preceding 100 years (throughout the 1800s), women had struggled for equal treatment under the law and access
to education, as well as the legal right to own their own bank account, real estate, and even their own children! Through all of
the marches for Suffrage, Temperance and all of their work dedicated to the Abolition of slavery, women maintained the hope
that these goals would be accomplished. However, one of the strongest advocates for these rights did not live to see the day
that women were finally allowed to vote in national elections (November 1920). That person was Susan B. Anthony (1820-

Susan B. Anthony

An activist for suffrage, Miss Anthony was known for her skill with a needle. Before she became heavily involved with
teaching and giving speeches, she made three quilts, but none after the age of 22. However, she sent pieces of her old silk
dresses to be included in Crazy Quilts that were sold to raise money for suffrage. Given her fame, those respective quilts
would have instantly become more valuable. She is reported to have given a speech to a group of ladies gathered at a quilting
bee in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Women's Work Matters!

We can never measure the influence of one woman. There were many women in the 19th century that had a profound effect
on the outcome of historical events. Clara Barton, Civil War nurse and founder of the American Red Cross, is one of those
people. She is easily joined by New Hampshire’s own Sarah Josepha Buell Hale, the “Mother of the American Thanksgiving”
and the "editress," (as she called herself), for decades of the influential publication,
Godey’s Lady’s Book. We cannot forget
Harriet Dame, Civil War nurse. Many of these women are remembered only because of their own writings and sometimes
because of the words written about them. Jane Croly Cunningham published many books. Many photos of her show up in an
online search.

Your Chance to Make a Difference

Today, September 28, 2013, I received an e-mail from GFWC requesting a donation for upgrades to Jane Croly
Cunningham’s gravesite in New Jersey. For those who might like to help with this cause, I will add a quote from their

Croly Gravesite

Help honor our founding mother by making a donation to the GFWC Jane Cunningham Croly Gravesite Fund. This fund
provides the necessary means to maintain her gravesite in Lakewood, N.J. In 2010, thanks to your generosity, the Croly
family gravesite was refurbished. All donations are tax-deductible and all donors will be acknowledged in the next issue of the
WHRC Newsletter and in the GFWC Annual Report. Donate today and receive a GFWC bookmark with The Collect.”

Donations may be sent by mail to:

General Federation of Women’s Clubs
1734 N. Street NW
Washington, D.C.  20036

Copyright 2013, Patricia L. Cummings, Quilter's Muse Publications, Concord, NH. All Rights Reserved.