New History

WCC has had an impressive history, and its future is full of possibilities. 

Founded back in 1915…

The Woman’s City Club of Greater Cincinnati has been called one of the most influential organizations in the city. Established during an historic time when courageous public-spirited women were uniting in their fight to secure the right to vote, women sought out meeting spaces where their voices could be heard and where they could find support as they worked together to shape change in the city. In the early years of its formation, City Club organized itself to mirror the committees of City Council. WCC committees served as “watch dogs” for council committee and held them accountable. To report their findings, the club issued a Report Card for City Government, published in the Cincinnati Post. Over the years, the club became involved in charter reform and restructuring election methods for city and county government to ensure better representation.

In the early twentieth century…

WCC forums on city planning led to the first City Planning Department in the United States. WCC advocated for support for social work and human services in the city and county. WCC hosted weekly forums to raise public awareness about the need to target housing for low-income women. They advocated for women in building and property management trades. WCC’s work in city planning led to the development of housing projects to replace “shanties” and ”blight.” Members hosted a domestic violence prevention luncheon with the Rape Crisis & Abuse Center and the YWCA. WCC was a pioneer in race relations during the 1940s when Cincinnati (“a northern city with a southern exposure”) remained racially segregated even though legal restrictions had been lifted 30 years earlier.

Throughout the century…

WCC advocated for minorities, children, families, low-income women, and other victims of social and economic injustice. Fostering civic reform and social justice, inclusiveness and diversity, WCC worked hard to promote peace and harmony among the diverse cultures that make up our neighborhoods. We sought to empower those who are most vulnerable and facilitate productive dialogue between the socio-economic sectors of our community. Boosting the status of women provided a central focus of civic action. We were committed to providing fair and affordable housing, improving our schools, securing safety in the streets, enhancing the health and sustainability of the urban environment, and supporting the life of the arts.

As Andrea Kornbluh wrote in Lighting the Way, her history of WCC 1915-1965, “… as in so many of its civic concerns, the Woman’s City Club based its program on its vision of a better world, rather than on the contemporary status quo.” (p. 71)

In the twenty first century and today…

We remain dedicated to the vision and commitment of our first members over a hundred years a

L-R Back Row S. Gideonse, A. Schneider, B. Myers, C. Donnelly, J. Buening, N. Walters, M. Davis, H. Reines, K. Smith, S. Noonan, Front Row L-R J.Anderson, M. Wells, and national speaker Martha Raddatz

go. Through our educational programs, leadership workshops, annual national speaker forums, city council monitoring, and town hall meetings, we continue to see our role in the city as a catalyst for community participation and connection. The timeline below illustrates WCC’s dedication and commitment to shaping change in our region for more than a century.

 

To learn more about our history and accomplishments, consider consulting histories WCC commissioned that document the century of its service. Both are available in the public library.

Andrea Tuttle Kornbluh, 1986. Lighting the Way: The Woman’s City Club of Cincinnati, 1915-1965, Young & Klein, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Rachel E. Powell, 2015. Lighting the Fire, Leading the Way: Woman’s City Club of Greater Cincinnati 1965-2015, Woman’s City Club of Greater Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio.

WCC’s archived newsletters (“The Bulletin”) are also resources.

Timeline

Use the plus “+” to expand and show the events for the time period.

1915-1919
  • WCC founded March 6, 2015. Elizabeth Campbell elected first president of WCC.
  • Promoted comprehensive City planning.
  • Helped pass legislation to establish non-elected separate 7-member local Planning Commissions.
  • Lobbied Ohio Legislature to allow home rule for cities.
  • Joined Citizen’s Council on Public Education.
  • President Woodrow Wilson addressed the Club on International Relations in 1916.
  • Established Better Housing League in 1918.
  • Jane Adams of Hull House addressed WCC.
  • Gained citizen participation in new United City Planning Committee.
1920s
  • Established Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority (second in country).
  • Membership was 2,400 in 1921.
  • Duck Creek Parkway established in collaboration with Cincinnati and Norwood, initiated by WCC in 1925.
  • Organized City Race Relations Committee in 1927.
1930s
  • Advocated for Regional Planning Commission.
  • Joined Conference on Race Relations organized by Negro Civic Welfare Association.
  • Organized campaign to raise $10,000 to purchase Public Library books for the blind.
  • Joined with Council of Jewish Women to organize Disarmament Day Exhibit in 1932.
  • Underwrote the cost of music lessons for 350 girls through Negro Civic Welfare Association in 1933.
  • Advocated for public housing projects at Lincoln Court, English Woods, Winton Terrace for Negro housing in 1937.
  • Hosted lecture series: “The Negro Woman,” “The Negro in Industry,” and “The Challenge of the New Negro.” (1938)
1940s
  • Organized Defense Committee in 1943 to “keep alive the best in the civic and cultural life of Cincinnati.”                                                 
  • Pressured USO to accept Negro women as hostesses in 1943.
  • WCC member Elizabeth Reid elected to City Council.
  • Initiated Earth Movement Task Force in 1945.
  • Originated studies for a Smoke Abatement League and Better Motion Picture Council in 1946.
  • WCC member Helen Lotspeich runs for City Council in 1947.
  • Organized and sponsored Fellowship House in 1947.
  • Helped establish the first Race Relations Committee in Cincinnati in 1947.
1950s
  • Created a Citizens’ Committee on Justice and Corrections.
  • Opened WCC membership to Negro women in 1952.
  • Helped initiate the Mayor’s Friendly Relations Committee in 1952.
  • WCC member Dorothy (Dot) Dolby, (WCC President 1964-66), elected to City Council in 1953.
  • Members picketed to integrate Coney Island, led by WCC member Marian Spencer in 1954.
  • Organized Lytle Park North Association, where WCC owned a building.
  • Worked to open first psychiatric clinic associated with Cincinnati Municipal Court in 1958.
  • WCC Junior Division disbands.
  • Worked to open Playhouse in the Park in 1959.
1960s
  • Members appointed to Boards of Health, Planned Parenthood, and Friends of Women’s Studies at University of Cincinnati.
  • Led the effort to build a new I-71 tunnel under Lytle Park to preserve the park and direct access to the Taft Art Museum and Anna Louise Inn.
  • Instrumental in designating the Little Miami River Ohio’s first Wild and Scenic River in 1968
  • Founded Contact Center in Over-the-Rhine for low-income women.
1970s
  • Established Status of Women and Environment Committees.
  • Organized Cincinnati’s first Earth Day, April 22, 1970.
  • WCC member Bobbie Sterne elected to Cincinnati City Council in 1970.
  • Sponsored National Organization of Women (NOW) to conduct workshop series.
  • Joined Cincinnati School Desegregation Suit in 1972, WCC member Marian Spencer plaintiff.
  • Status of Women Committee invites Theodora Wells in 1975 to lead workshop series on women’s issues.
  • Help establish the Hillside Trust in 1976.
  • Helped establish the Citizens Active to Support Education in 1976.
  • Presented a forum at which Margaret Mead and Dr. Phyllis Chesler spoke on “The Crime and Punishment of Competent Women: Power and Aging.”
  • Endorsed the Equal Rights Amendment in 1977.
  • Presented programs on nuclear waste disposal at the proposed Zimmer Nuclear Power Station.
  • Presented “Womansong: Cincinnati’s First Festival of Women and Music.”
  • WCC member Bobbie Sterne elected Mayor of Cincinnati in 1979.
1980s
  • Presented forums on sexual harassment, employer-sponsored childcare, and Women in the New Age (1980-1982).
  • Introduced Annual Family Sex Education Week.
  • Presented Paul M. Smith, Jr., who spoke on “Racism: The Force of Generations.”
  • Established its Peace and Arms Control Committee in 1982.
  • Marian Spencer co-chaired major right to know/hazardous materials workplace ordinance (1982).
  • WCC members Bobbie Sterne, Marian Spencer, and Sally Fellerhoff elected to 9-member City Council in 1983.
  • Marian Spencer served as Vice Mayor of City Council (1984).
  • Hired first WCC Executive Director, Jo Huntington Strauss (1984).
  • Sent Nuclear Test Ban Resolution to President Reagan in 1986.
  • Participated in campaign to amend the Ohio Constitutional to declare housing a public purpose in Ohio; amendment approved by voters in 1990.
1990s
  • Supported the Civic Garden Center’s Urban Garden Project.
  • Participated in Civic Confederation led by Louise Spiegel.
  • Published A Hillside Protection Strategy for Greater Cincinnati
  • Major citizen engagement workshop funded by Seasongood Foundation in 1993, attended by 1,000.
  • Proposed Hamilton County home rule to increase in the number of County Commissioners (1994).
  • Circulated ballot petition to change top vote-getter method of election for Mayor in Council elections.
  • Collaborated with other civic organizations to for Citizens for Civic Renewal, to provide a coordinated response to issues facing the city.
  • Improved the status of women through educating the community about issues affecting women and empowering women through leadership training workshops open to all women in the community (1990-2010).
  • Worked in coalition to reform the city budget and the method of electing council, election financing, and election of the mayor.
  • Held first Annual Seasongood Luncheon (1995).
  • Established Seasongood Luncheon as an annual event with local female speaker.
2000s
  • Presented major public forum on “Gentrification and Integration: Partners for Purpose.”
  • Inaugurated annual Agnes Seasongood Education Awards Program (2001) for graduating high school women.
  • Helped establish Study Circles in response to civil unrest (2001).
  • Joined Mayor’s Community Action Commission in response to the unrest.
  • Led a Mill Creek cleanup campaign in 2002.
  • Led a collaboration to present an ongoing series of monthly community forums – Changing Co2urce – 2005-2019) on environmental issues at St. John’s Unitarian Universalist Church for concerned citizens to exchange ideas, embrace worries about the global crisis of climate change, and to create locally more resilient, sustainable, and equitable communities
  • Through educational forums and other activities, supported the implementation of the Collaborative Agreement as Cincinnati’s best chance to engage the community in mending racial relations and reducing crime.
  • Formed Action Groups for greater impact in 2005: Status of Women; Environmental Education; Collaborative Agreement Action Group (CAAG).
  • Facilitated adoption of LEED/Green schools standards in 2007 by Cincinnati Public Schools and Ohio School Facilities Commission to improve academic performance and increase ecological awareness.
  • Began kindergarten tutoring program at Rothenberg Preparatory Academy, with volunteers at Rothenberg and Winton Hills Academy (where program was ongoing), using the Making Sense of Language Arts curriculum developed by Linda Wihl.
  • Instrumental in Cincinnati Public Schools’ adoption of LEED design in its new buildings (2005) to improve academic performance and increase ecological awareness.
  • Updated club mission and vision statements, our impacts and call to action (2005).
  • Initiated Rookwood Group in 2005, a collaboration of civic organizations, started by former WCC president, Ruth Cronenberg that presented major forum, such as a debate between County Commissioners David Pepper and Pat DeWine on a county sales tax to build a new jail with increase rehabilitation services.
  • Initiated In-Home Conversations for members (2008).
2010s
  • Continued to contribute to public education and discourse by presenting National Speaker forums: highlights include author Naomi Tutu, American foreign policy expert Robin Wright, historian Isabel Wilkerson, ABC correspondent Martha Raddatz, and author Helen Thorpe.
  • Held first annual Feist-Tea event to honor our “feisty” members (2010).
  • Held series of programs on the themes, “Building Community: Addressing Disparitiesand Building Just and Sustainable Communities.”
  • Supported defeat of Senate Bill 5, anti-union legislation in 2011 after holding a town hall panel representing supporters and opponents.
  • Joined support for moratorium/ban on fracking waste injection wells in the City (2012).
  • Initiated “City Conversations,” a regular interactive gathering for members and friends.
  • Initiated Act One Joint Junior Membership program with League of Women Voters (2013).
  • Began Woman’s City Club bi-monthly book club.
  • Held several forums on criminal justice issues.
  • Held a series of educational programs on issues related to immigrants and refugees.
  • Organized first annual Women’s Economic, Mental, and Physical Health Expo in 2014.
  • Endorsed council resolution formulated in part by WCC members to strengthen the culture of citizen engagement (2014).
  • 100th ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION: Held Centennial Gala Dinner at the historic Netherland Hotel Hall of Mirrors, March 6, 2015.
  • Published an update of WCC history 1966-2015 by Rachel Powell: Lighting the Fire, Leading the Way: Woman’s City Club of Greater Cincinnati, 1965-2015.
  • Published Stirring the Pot, in the Kitchen & the Community for 100 Years, a Centennial cookbook with Club members’ recipes, include selections from our 1917 and 1952 cookbooks.
  • Inaugurated a new initiative – Thriving Cincinnati– to address inequity, injustice, and exclusion — issues that negatively impact all sectors of our community– with the goal of moving Greater Cincinnati from surviving to thriving.
  • Educated the public about the importance of early childhood education and worked to pass the levy to subsidize low-income children to attend high quality preschool program in Cincinnati, to increase the number of such programs, and to pay teachers a living wage.
  • Sponsored a panel of experts and practitioners working on addressing childhood trauma
  • Cosponsored a public forum on a state constitutional amendment to reduce penalties for low-level drug possession and use (2018).
  • Endorsed city policy recommendation to ban the sale of single-use plastic bags as a measure to reduce plastic pollution.
  • Cosponsored programs on finding balance in neighborhood development.
  • Commissioned the first named statue of a woman, civil rights icon Marian Spencer, in Smale Park. Tom Tsuchiya and Gina Erardi are the sculptors (2018).

2020s