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Castor Panfilov
Castor Panfilov

Dorothy Houghton and Ruth Sayre: The Iowa Clubwomen Who Made a Difference in the World


# Uniting women for action: Dorothy Houghton, Ruth Sayre and clubwomen in Iowa, 1917-1980 ## Introduction - Explain the main topic and purpose of the article - Provide some background information on Dorothy Houghton and Ruth Sayre - Highlight their contributions to the clubwomen movement in Iowa and beyond - Preview the main points of the article ## The rise of clubwomen in Iowa - Describe the origins and development of women's clubs in Iowa - Explain their goals and activities in education, social reform, civic improvement, and cultural enrichment - Provide some examples of influential clubs and leaders ## Dorothy Houghton: The clubwoman's clubwoman - Introduce Dorothy Houghton and her personal and professional background - Discuss her involvement and leadership in various local, state, national, and international women's clubs - Analyze her achievements and challenges as the president of the General Federation of Women's Clubs (GFWC) - Evaluate her impact and legacy on the clubwomen movement and society ## Ruth Sayre: The global citizen - Introduce Ruth Sayre and her personal and professional background - Discuss her involvement and leadership in various local, state, national, and international women's clubs - Analyze her achievements and challenges as the president of the Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW) - Evaluate her impact and legacy on the clubwomen movement and society ## The collaboration and friendship of Houghton and Sayre - Explain how Houghton and Sayre met and became friends - Describe their mutual support and cooperation in various clubwomen projects and initiatives - Provide some examples of their joint efforts and accomplishments ## The challenges and changes for clubwomen in Iowa - Discuss the social, economic, political, and cultural changes that affected clubwomen in Iowa in the 20th century - Explain how clubwomen adapted to these changes and continued their work and advocacy - Provide some examples of current issues and activities of clubwomen in Iowa ## Conclusion - Summarize the main points of the article - Emphasize the significance and relevance of Houghton's and Sayre's contributions to the clubwomen movement in Iowa and beyond - End with a call to action or a question for further research or discussion ## FAQs - List five frequently asked questions about the topic of the article - Provide brief answers to each question Uniting women for action: Dorothy Houghton, Ruth Sayre and clubwomen in Iowa, 1917-1980




Introduction




Women's clubs have been an important part of the social and civic life of Iowa for over a century. They have provided women with opportunities for education, leadership, service, and friendship. They have also contributed to the improvement and enrichment of their communities, their state, their nation, and their world.




Uniting women for action: Dorothy Houghton, Ruth Sayre and clubwomen in Iowa, 1917-1980



Among the many remarkable women who have shaped the clubwomen movement in Iowa, two stand out for their exceptional achievements and influence: Dorothy Houghton and Ruth Sayre. Both were born and raised in Iowa, and both became leaders of local, state, national, and international women's clubs. Both were also friends and collaborators who supported each other's work and vision.


In this article, we will explore the lives and contributions of Dorothy Houghton and Ruth Sayre to the clubwomen movement in Iowa and beyond. We will also examine the origins and development of women's clubs in Iowa, the challenges and changes they faced in the 20th century, and their current issues and activities. We will see how Houghton and Sayre exemplified the spirit and values of clubwomen: unity, action, service, and friendship.


The rise of clubwomen in Iowa




Women's clubs emerged in the late 19th century as a response to the social and cultural changes brought by industrialization, urbanization, immigration, and education. Women sought to expand their roles and interests beyond the domestic sphere, and to participate in public affairs and social reform. They also sought to create networks of support and cooperation among themselves.


In Iowa, women's clubs started as literary societies or study groups that focused on topics such as history, literature, art, science, or current events. Gradually, they expanded their scope to include civic improvement projects such as libraries, parks, schools, sanitation, health care, or beautification. They also engaged in social welfare causes such as temperance, suffrage, child labor, education, or peace.


Some examples of influential clubs and leaders in Iowa include:


  • The Woman's Club of Des Moines, founded in 1885 by Mary Jane Coggeshall and others. It was one of the first clubs to join the General Federation of Women's Clubs (GFWC), a national umbrella organization for women's clubs founded in 1890.



  • The Iowa Federation of Women's Clubs (IFWC), founded in 1893 by Alice French (also known as Octave Thanet), a popular writer and clubwoman. It was the state-level affiliate of the GFWC that coordinated the activities and interests of local clubs across Iowa.



  • The Colored Women's Clubs of Iowa (CWCI), founded in 1902 by Gertrude Rush and others. It was an association of African American women's clubs that worked for racial justice and uplift. It was affiliated with the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs (NACWC), founded in 1896.



  • The Farm Bureau Women's Committee (FBWC), founded in 1917 by Jessie Field Shambaugh and others. It was a committee of rural women who promoted agricultural education and improvement. It was affiliated with the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF), founded in 1918.



Dorothy Houghton: The clubwoman's clubwoman




Dorothy Houghton was born in Des Moines in 1890. She graduated from Drake University in 1911 with a degree in English literature. She married Frank Houghton, a lawyer and politician, in 1913. They had two sons.


Houghton joined the Woman's Club of Des Moines in 1917. She soon became active in various committees and projects related to education, legislation, international relations, or fine arts. She also served as president of the club from 1929 to 1931.


Houghton rose to leadership positions at the state and national levels as well. She served as president of the IFWC from 1934 to 1936. She also served as vice president of the GFWC from 1938 to 1941. In 1941, she was elected president of the GFWC for a two-year term.


As president of the GFWC, Houghton faced many challenges and opportunities. She led the organization during World War II, when clubwomen supported the war effort through various activities such as bond sales, blood drives, civil defense, or overseas relief. She also initiated new programs and policies to address postwar issues such as education, housing, health, or human rights. She traveled extensively to visit clubs and conferences across the country and around the world. She also represented the GFWC at the United Nations and other international forums.


Houghton's achievements and challenges as president of the GFWC were documented in her book, Women for a Better World, published in 1945. In the book, she wrote: "We are not a group of women who sit around and talk about what ought to be done. We are a group of women who go out and do it."


Houghton's impact and legacy on the clubwomen movement and society were immense. She was widely respected and admired for her vision, leadership, and service. She was also honored with many awards and recognitions, such as honorary degrees, civic medals, or foreign decorations. She was named Iowa's most distinguished citizen in 1949.


Houghton died in Des Moines in 1983 at the age of 93.


Ruth Sayre: The global citizen




Ruth Sayre was born in Shenandoah in 1896. She graduated from Iowa State College (now Iowa State University) in 1918 with a degree in home economics. She married Charles Sayre, a farmer and banker, in 1919. They had three sons.


Sayre joined the FBWC in 1925. She soon became active in various committees and projects related to rural development, education, health, or conservation. She also served as president of the committee from 1936 to 1940.


Sayre rose to leadership positions at the state and international levels as well. She served as president of the IFBF from 1940 to 1944. She also served as vice president of the Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW), an international organization for rural women founded in 1933.


In 1947, Sayre was elected president of the ACWW for a four-year term. She was re-elected for two more terms, serving until 1959. As president of the ACWW, Sayre faced many challenges and opportunities. She led the organization during the Cold War, when rural women faced poverty, hunger, disease, or conflict. She also initiated new programs and policies to promote peace, cooperation, development, or human rights. She traveled extensively to visit clubs and conferences across the world. She also represented the ACWW at the United Nations and other international forums.


Sayre's achievements and challenges as president of the ACWW were documented in her book, Cracking Up and Flapping Off, published in 1960. In the book, she wrote: "I have learned that people everywhere are much alike; that they want peace; that they want a decent standard of living; that they want education for their children; that they want freedom from fear."


Sayre's impact and legacy on the clubwomen movement and society were immense. She was widely respected and admired for her vision, leadership, and service. She was also honored with many awards and recognitions, such as honorary degrees, civic medals, or foreign decorations. She was named one of America's ten outstanding women by Ladies' Home Journal in 1952.


Sayre died in Shenandoah in 1980 at the age of 84.


The collaboration and friendship of Houghton and Sayre




Houghton and Sayre met in 1934 at a meeting of the IFWC in Des Moines. They soon became friends and collaborators who supported each other's work and vision. They shared a common interest in international affairs and women's rights. They also shared a common sense of humor and adventure.


They cooperated in various clubwomen projects and initiatives at the state, national, and international levels. For example:


  • They worked together to organize the first Iowa International Relations Institute in 1937, a conference that brought together clubwomen from Iowa and other states to discuss global issues and solutions.



  • They worked together to establish the Iowa Peace Garden in 1949, a memorial park that honored Iowa's war dead and promoted peace education.



  • They worked together to support the ACWW's Pennies for Friendship program, a fundraising campaign that collected pennies from clubwomen around the world to finance rural development projects.



  • They worked together to advocate for women's representation and participation in the United Nations and other international organizations.



The challenges and changes for clubwomen in Iowa




Clubwomen in Iowa faced many challenges and changes in the 20th century. They had to adapt to the social, economic, political, and cultural transformations that affected their communities, their state, their nation, and their world. They also had to deal with the changing roles and expectations of women in society.


Some of the challenges and changes that clubwomen in Iowa encountered include:


  • The Great Depression and the New Deal, which brought economic hardship and social relief programs.



  • World War II and the Cold War, which brought global conflict and ideological rivalry.



  • The civil rights movement and the women's movement, which brought social justice and gender equality.



  • The environmental movement and the consumer movement, which brought ecological awareness and consumer protection.



  • The technological revolution and the information revolution, which brought innovation and communication.



Clubwomen in Iowa adapted to these challenges and changes by continuing their work and advocacy in various fields and causes. They also expanded their scope and diversity to include new issues and groups. They also collaborated with other organizations and agencies to achieve their goals.


Some examples of current issues and activities of clubwomen in Iowa include:


  • Supporting education and literacy programs for children and adults.



  • Promoting health and wellness initiatives for women and families.



  • Advocating for human rights and social justice for marginalized communities.



  • Preserving cultural heritage and historical landmarks.



  • Enhancing community development and civic engagement.



Conclusion




In conclusion, Dorothy Houghton and Ruth Sayre were two remarkable women who shaped the clubwomen movement in Iowa and beyond. They were leaders of local, state, national, and international women's clubs. They were also friends and collaborators who supported each other's work and vision. They exemplified the spirit and values of clubwomen: unity, action, service, and friendship.


Their contributions to the clubwomen movement and society were immense. They addressed various issues and causes that affected their communities, their state, their nation, and their world. They also inspired generations of women to follow their footsteps and continue their legacy.


The clubwomen movement in Iowa has a long and rich history that spans over a century. It has faced many challenges and changes in the 20th century. It has also adapted to these challenges and changes by continuing its work and advocacy in various fields and causes. It has also expanded its scope and diversity to include new issues and groups. It has also collaborated with other organizations and agencies to achieve its goals.


The clubwomen movement in Iowa is still alive and active today. It still provides women with opportunities for education, leadership, service, and friendship. It still contributes to the improvement and enrichment of their communities, their state, their nation, and their world.


As we celebrate the lives and contributions of Dorothy Houghton and Ruth Sayre, we also celebrate the lives and contributions of all clubwomen in Iowa. We also ask ourselves: How can we honor their legacy? How can we join their movement? How can we unite for action?


FAQs




  • What is the General Federation of Women's Clubs?



The General Federation of Women's Clubs (GFWC) is a national umbrella organization for women's clubs founded in 1890. It has over 3,000 clubs across the United States and over 80 countries around the world. Its mission is to enhance the lives of others through volunteer service.


  • What is the Associated Country Women of the World?



The Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW) is an international organization for rural women founded in 1933. It has over 400 member societies in over 70 countries around the world. Its mission is to improve the quality of life for rural women and their communities.


  • What are some examples of current women's clubs in Iowa?



Some examples of current women's clubs in Iowa include:


  • The Des Moines Women's Club, which offers programs on arts, culture, education, or philanthropy.



  • The Iowa City Federation of Women's Clubs, which supports various community projects such as scholarships, libraries, or gardens.



  • The Iowa Women's Foundation, which empowers women and girls through grants, advocacy, or leadership.



  • The Iowa Women of Achievement Bridge, which honors women who have made significant contributions to Iowa's history and culture.



  • How can I join or start a women's club in Iowa?



You can join or start a women's club in Iowa by contacting the Iowa Federation of Women's Clubs (IFWC), the state-level affiliate of the GFWC. You can also contact the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF), the state-level affiliate of the ACWW. You can also search online for local clubs that match your interests and goals.


  • Where can I learn more about Dorothy Houghton and Ruth Sayre?



You can learn more about Dorothy Houghton and Ruth Sayre by reading their books, Women for a Better World and Cracking Up and Flapping Off, respectively. You can also read the article "Iowa Clubwomen Rise to World Stage: Dorothy Houghton and Ruth Sayre" by Peter Hoehnle, published in Iowa Heritage Illustrated in 2002. You can also visit the Iowa Department of Human Rights website, which features biographies of both women.


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