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Club Chronicles: GFWC clubwomen support U.S. efforts in World War II

This past week marked 75 years since the Battle of Normandy and the D-Day Landings, the most significant victory for the Western Allies in World War II.

As I have been compiling the 90-year history of the GFWC Book Lovers Study Club, I came across the 1942 yearbook with the theme, “The United States, Her Possessions, and Her Allies.”  Many of their programs focused on the events of the war and the countries that were our Allies.

This was a very dark period in history that required the world to come together to defeat the enemy. Here is how the GFWC clubwomen supported the WWII efforts.

The GFWC Historic Resource Center has compiled documents on how GFWC clubwomen nationwide contributed to the efforts during this Great War. Through the GFWC’s “Buy a Bomber” campaign, $101,617,759 was raised to purchase planes for the U.S. Airforce, many of which had the names of GFWC clubs or state federations.

GFWC recruited nurses and raised $234,834 to provide nursing scholarships.

GFWC hosted multiple National Defense Forums during the 1942 Board of Directors Meeting at The Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. Attendees included clubwomen, cabinet members, Army and Navy officers and other leaders.

GFWC International President Sara Whitehurst invited women’s organization leaders to meet in New York City and coordinate national defense activities. Eighty-five organizations attended and put together an 18-point program.

Clubwoman published wartime articles from national leaders, including President Roosevelt; First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt; Frances Perkins, Secretary of Labor; and Mary Anderson, director of the Woman’s Bureau.

The second floor of GFWC Headquarters was turned into a war services office after America entered WWII. This included an up-to-date “wartime library” with speeches, books and newspapers.

GFWC collected 100 used wedding dresses to send to British servicewomen. One of the dresses belonged to “America’s Sweetheart,” actress Mary Pickford.

The Book Lovers Study Club is proud to be affiliated with the General Federation of Women’s Clubs and the Alabama Federation of Women’s Club, as it has led many clubwomen to play significant roles in many worthwhile events nationally and internationally. GFWC-AFWC is truly a service club that works for the betterment of our city, state, and country.

Club Chronicles is written by Susie Hovater Malone.