The First Decade…

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The first decade…

Almost immediately after the reorganization that took place at Quota’s first convention in Scranton, Pennsylvania in April 1920, another agitation arose – an attempt to affiliate Quota Club International with the Business and Professional Women’s Club.   To research this opportunity two Quota Club members were sent to the Business and Professional Women’s Club state meeting in Pittsburgh to observe.  The matter was given serious consideration at Quota’s second convention, held in May 1921 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania; however, at that time, the fourteen delegates and nine officers voted against such affiliations and inserted an Article into the Bylaws prohibiting Quota Clubs from affiliating with any other body.  Our current Bylaws – Article III – Section 2 C still reflect that decision, though amendments have been made over the years to align with changing times and situations.

Quota’s growth continued with three new clubs in Pennsylvania – Johnstown, Reading and Harrisburg – and one in Fairmont in West Virginia.

As we celebrate our Centennial in 2019, special recognition is also due to the Johnstown Club in Pennsylvania, United States. Chartered with 37 members on April 25, 1921 by International President Jennie Lewis Evans, the Johnstown Club is currently Quota’s oldest active club. They will be celebrating the club’s 98th birthday on April 25, 2019 and are surely looking forward to their own 100 year celebration in 2021!

After being suspended due to lack of funds, the publication of the Quotarian was resumed in May, 1921 when President Mary Brookes Picken and her club in Scranton distributed a new issue which they had prepared.  Additionally, the Scranton Club also offered to underwrite the magazine for a year.   Quota International leaders accepted this offer and Laura MacFarlane was appointed editor.

The third and fourth Conventions were held in Pittsburgh and Allentown, Pennsylvania and new Quota clubs were chartered in Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and Ohio bringing the total membership to 1,008.  To encourage continued growth, each Quota Club left the convention in 1923 pledging to organize at least one new club in the coming year.  Those two conventions also brought a complete revision of the Bylaws, the establishment of a registration fee for future Conventions, and a $10 Application Fee for new members. (What is the Initiation Fee today? 100 years’ later and it’s still $10!)    In 1923 Quota Club International was also chartered in Pennsylvania, which caused some controversy around the legality of being chartered in both Pennsylvania and New York, but no resolution was found and Quota continued under both Charters until 1961.

At the 5th Convention, in Buffalo, NY in 1924, Girls’ Service Work was adopted as the major project of Quota Club International.  Clubs were encouraged to identify underprivileged girls and help them to stay in school longer, or to provide assistance with special vocational training. Clubs expanded on the idea and began mentoring girls and encouraging their future affiliation as Quotarians. (What goes around, comes around… as we now have JQ Clubs in the 21st Century!) The treasurer also reported the organization’s financial balance of $5,844.35 at convention.

In 1925, growth continued with clubs in Washington DC, Connecticut, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. But more exciting than all of these was the news of the organization of a club in Winnipeg, Canada in November! The charter for this club was presented by President Mary Russell Purman at the 1926 Convention in Philadelphia.  Quota’s Canadian expansion continued in Saskatchewan the following year.  Quota Club International was now truly International! Mary Russell Purman

In 1927, following the Eighth Convention in Baltimore, a satirical article was published in The American Mercury entitled “The Lady Back-Slappers”.  Contrary to its intention though, the article actually provided Quota with much-appreciated national publicity, including greetings from President Calvin Coolidge who invited Quota Club International to make its Headquarters in Washington DC!  So, at the 1928 Convention in Davenport, Iowa, each Club was requested to voluntarily give $50.00 to the Quota Club International for a permanent headquarters to be established in Washington DC with a general secretary in charge. Until this time, the Headquarters office had been moved each year to the home of the President.  $1,700.00 was pledged at the Convention for this purpose and office space at 812 17th Street, NW, Washington DC became Quota’s first permanent headquarters.  On January 1, 1929, President Elizabeth J. Emens resigned from her position and took over the role of General Secretary at the new headquarters. Vice President Rietta M. Emerson then became the 7th International President of Quota Club International.

The 1929 Convention, held in Worcester, Massachusetts – the first in New England – included a celebration to mark 10 years of Quota existence, and membership of 2,500.  Catherine Olney from Worcester Club, MA was elected to take the organization into its second decade.

Sadly, the Great Depression which followed the 1929 stock market crash took its toll on Quota too.  The 1930 Catherine Olney - CopyConvention, set to take place for the first time outside of the United States, in Winnipeg, Canada was dangerously close to being cancelled. Lacking available funds to take the International Board of Directors to Canada, it became necessary to acquire a bank loan to for this purpose.  Newly elected President Catherine and the Board faced an almost insurmountable task – stop the loss the membership and clubs and repay the US$4,000.00 bank loan (with a hefty 10% interest rate).   Cash on hand was less than US$100.00.  At that point, the Board had two avenues to follow – levy an assessment on the entire membership to clear the deficit and then liquidate, or try to save the organization.  Courageously, and with faith in the power of passionate women unified for a cause, President Catherine and the Board chose the latter and proceeded to operate at minimum costs – no funds for travel by the President; no funds for publication of The Quotarian; no funds for extension and development.  Thankfully, support from the clubs was quick and generous and Quota’s first Convention was held outside the USA in 1930 – in Winnipeg, Canada. Additionally, the bank debt was cleared just two years later!

April ……  Quota crosses the Pacific

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Quota Club International is on its way…….with hiccups!

Quota Club International is on its way…….with hiccups!

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On March 3rd, 1919, the Buffalo newspapers carried a story of a meeting of 100 women at the Lafayette Hotel. The purpose of this meeting – to appoint a Nominating Committee.  The following May 5th, at a special luncheon meeting held at the Hotel Statler, 200 women were in attendance as Quota Club International was presented with their first 100% Loan Campaign banner.   However, the surprise of that meeting’s program, as planned by Wanda Frey Joiner who was then the President of Quota Club International Inc., was the presentation of a Charter to Quota’s first club!  The Buffalo Quota Club, of which 151 of the women in attendance at that meeting were members, was organized!   Records show that in addition to these first 151 women, another 10 joined on May 6th, then 14 more on June 12th, and an additional 10 on July 10th, making a total of 183 members in the Buffalo Quota Club by the end of July 1919.

Very quickly, organizational work began in Syracuse, Binghampton, Rochester, and Elmira, New York, as well as in Scranton, Pittsburgh, and Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. However, it wasn’t long before the pains of this rapid growth set in.

Many women at the time were comparatively new in the business world, and in club membership.  Most of their previous associations had been with religious or patriotic groups, so the differences inherent to their new service club meetings had to be worked out.  One of the greatest problems, though, was that membership was limited to busy business and professional women.  Difficulties often arose as the demands of their occupation kept them from serving on committees or supporting service activities during working hours.

Another problem was that clubs grew too large, too soon to sustain a consistent vision for the future work of their new Quota Clubs.   It is noted that one member of the Buffalo Club was a “trouble maker” when, in truth, like Wanda Frey Joiner, she too had a strong personality and very definite ideas of what was needed to move forward.  Unfortunately, this “issue” was not unique to the Buffalo Club. To address the problem that had arisen, a special convention was called in Rochester, NY on September 26, 1919. When President Wanda was asked, “Which clubs have seceded?”, she responded, “Buffalo, Syracuse, Elmira and Binghampton”.   This was a serious blow to the International Board of Directors! With the loss of those clubs, Scranton became the oldest continuing club in Quota, according to the Bylaws under which organization had taken place. Additionally, out of this secession, Zonta International was formed, receiving its Charter in November, 1919.

As an aside, it should be noted that, as revealed in a letter to General Secretary, Gwladys Jones on March 23, 1945, by Buffalo Club Secretary, Miss Martha Braithwaite, the Buffalo Club did not actually disband in 1919.  Rather, they were not in attendance at the special convention held that September because, “A difference of opinion arose among some of the members and a number of them withdrew and formed a new club which was called Zonta”. The remaining members, although not very active for a time, still kept their Quota organization.  The club sought new members and re-invented itself in 1920 with Louise Hayes Strubbing elected President.   Louise was not on the original list of members.

Quota International’s first annual convention was held in Scranton, Pennsylvania on April 22-23, 1920, and was attended by members from just three clubs: Scranton, Pittsburgh and Wilkes-Barre – all from Pennsylvania.  International President Wanda reported at this convention that “it was the desire of the present international board that an entirely new board be elected with new officers and start all over again”. Jenny Lewis Evans  An election was held and Jennie Lewis Evans from the Scranton Club became Quota’s second International President, effective immediately, and after which she served four years.  Several other important decisions also resulted from that convention. First, Wanda Frey Joiner was made Honorary Life Member of Quota Club International – a decision which has followed for all succeeding International Presidents – which, in their words at the time, “made her a member of every club”.  Second, as evidenced by the loss of so many clubs in 1919, there was a great need for a central headquarters officer; Florence Snowdon, a member of the Scranton Club was chosen and appointed to fill this need as the first General Secretary.  Next, a new set of Bylaws were adopted and Ora Cole was retained for another year as a club organizer.  Lastly, because of a lack of funds, the publication of The Quotarian was suspended temporarily.

Interestingly, it’s recorded that as smaller groups were organized, and weekly meetings were adopted, warm friendships were formed, not only in each club, but from club to club.  This closer understanding and unending loyalty has continued on through the years. Little did these women know that their small beginnings, limited by classification mandate, would leave a legacy of friendship and fellowship to be passed on as a most precious heritage!

March……..the first Decade

Want to print and distribute these messages to your club?  Click HERE to access the printable PDF archive of this series.