Northside’s Advance Club and women’s mutual improvement organizations
Posted On: 10/09/2017 - 12:30pm, Posted By: Christine Engels, Archives Manager, Manuscripts Department
The education of girls beyond primary school was not common everywhere in America until the early twentieth century. However, girls from wealthy families were going to schools that educated beyond the basics far earlier than that. Many wealthy girls went to primary schools and then finishing schools where the focus was on preparing and fine-tuning the social graces young women needed to enter upper-class society. By the mid to late nineteenth century many more girls and young women attended schools that included subjects that mirrored those taught to boys and young men. Some even attended colleges for women and later co-ed colleges once they finally admitted women. Unfortunately society had not yet caught up with the education these accomplished women had received and they were anxious for an outlet where they could use their minds and not only be focused on housekeeping and child-rearing. There were some women who became professionals at this time but they were in the minority. To address the desire to continue to learn after formal instruction was completed many women created clubs and organizations all over the country.
The CHLA houses the records of many women’s clubs and organizations, one of which is the Advance Club which was formed in Northside in 1896. The object of the club was "the mutual improvement of its members in literature, art, music, science and the vital interests of the day." The women would take turns reading papers they wrote on a wide variety of topics, including politics, history, art, and current affairs in Cincinnati. They would also hold anniversary dinners each year to celebrate the special place they had created to learn and support each other. They also produced yearbooks listing their members along with year’s accomplishments. The Advance Club disbanded in 1989 but their records preserve nearly one-hundred years of Cincinnati women’s writings and interests.