By Jenny Pederson
In August 2020, the Monday Club marks 125 years of service and dedication to the Prescott community. Since its inception, the organization has had a significant impact on Prescott and the surrounding area through various activities, conducting fundraisers on behalf of area organizations, supporting local schools, and much more. Aside from the club’s collective efforts, individual members also contribute to community dialogue, commenting on a range of local, regional, and even national issues.
When the Monday Club was organized in 1895, women in America were primarily seen as wives and mothers. They did not generally take on public roles nor make public comments regarding economic, political, or social issues. In Arizona, as well as across the United States, business and civic leaders and government officials were almost entirely men. However, as the new century approached, women across the United States decided to do more.
Some started organizing, viewing clubs as opportunities for informal learning and engagement and as outlets to develop and share their ideas, value each other’s opinions, and ultimately enrich the lives of members. It also enabled women to socialize on their own terms and to form friendships with other women in the community – something that between familial and social obligations – could be difficult to do.
Formed by women who had previously organized the Prescott History-Study Club in 1891 and the Prescott Chautauqua Circle in 1892, the Monday Club was initially named the Woman’s Club of Prescott. Many of its founding members were connected to the most influential and known families in Prescott. Founding members included Mrs. Jane “Jennie” Tritle, the wife of Frederick Augustus Tritle, sixth Governor of the Arizona Territory; and Julia Goldwater, member of the prominent Goldwater family, which operated a long-running mercantile and general store in town.
After making the decision to form an official club, the women quickly got down to business. According to minutes dated August 13, temporary chairman Julia Goldwater appointed Jennie Tritle, Florence Gould, and another member named Mrs. Gurovitz to constitute a committee on the club’s constitution and by-laws.
Attending this meeting was a guest, May Wright Sewall. Sewall was an Indiana-based social reformer who spent much of her life fighting to expand educational opportunities for women and advocating for women’s suffrage. She also was a founding member of the Indianapolis Woman’s Club, organized in 1875. During the meeting, Wright was invited to talk about her experiences. The minutes from the meeting note that the Prescott ladies “obtained many valuable hints in regard to the formation and work of our club.”
By the club’s next meeting on August 19, the Constitution was drafted and ready to be debated. Again in attendance was May Wright Sewell. Responding to the “urgent request” of the Prescott club members, Sewell “joined in the discussions relating to the Constitution.” Conversation regarding the Constitution and its various amendments continued into a meeting scheduled the next day.
Ultimately adopted, the original Constitution contained 18 articles addressing many aspects of the club’s business. Article Two stated:
“The object of this association shall be to form an organized center for the mental and social culture of its members and for the improvement of domestic life. To this end the association shall encourage a liberal interchange of thought by papers and discussions upon all subjects pertaining to its objects.”
At this meeting, they also discussed where meetings would take place and the officers of the new club. With the organization’s foundation established, the club was ready to begin its work.
Up next week: the club starts its regular meetings, and attention turns to the needs of the Prescott community.
“Days Past” is a collaborative project of the Sharlot Hall Museum and the Prescott Corral of Westerners International (www.prescottcorral.org). This and other Days Past articles are also available at https://www.sharlot.org/articles/days-past-articles.l. The public is encouraged to submit proposed articles and inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please contact SHM Research Center reference desk at 928-445-3122 Ext. 2, or via email at email@example.com for information or assistance with photo requests.