Inside Tidewater

Exploring GFWC

Our History

The Tidewater District, like so many of our other districts, had its beginning at the first organizational convention held in Lynchburg on May 16, 1907. One of the first clubs recorded to join the Virginia Federation of Woman's Clubs was the Woman's Club of Norfolk in 1907. In 1919, Mrs. Henry Parker of the Woman's Club of Newport News was chosen to lead the VFWC. Under her direction the Nellie Watts Fleming Endowment was formed, and the state was divided into three regions. Tidewater was then known as the Southeastern District and Mrs. Thomas F. Stearnes was appointed chairman of this district (District Presidents were called chairmen until 1929 and served three year terms until 1947). The Southeastern District grew quickly and within a few years half the clubs in Virginia were in this district. Later six districts were created and our Southeastern District became known as the 6th District. Mrs. Stearnes initiated the ideas for a district scholarship. In 1927 this became a reality, and the scholarship was given her name. In 1923 Junior Departments began to be organized and mrs. L. C. Branch went on to become the first junior chairman of the VFWC. The first recorded minutes that can be located state that the 4th Annual Meeting of the district was held at Cape Charles on October 12-13, 1926. Twenty three clubs were represe3nted with each of the members making a three hour ferry trip to the Eastern Shore. The Treasurer's report showed a balance of $11.15. In 1930, due to growth and a large geographical territory, the 6th District voluntarily divided forming was is now the Southside District. In 1934, The Tidewater District requested the name of the VFWC Library Science Fund be changed tot he Mary Macon Maquire Fund in honor of Mrs. Robert G. Maquire. Mrs. Maquire had been instrumental in providing library services to Northhampton County, the first county in the state of Virginia to establish such a service. In 1934, Mrs. J. L. Blair Buck was endorsed as Virginia's Candidate for the office of GFWC Recording Secretary. On April 1, 1936 the District held its first Spring Meeting, then called Club Institute. In 1937, the Virginia Federation Song was adopted by the VFWC with words written by Maud Nichols of the Woman's Club of Newport News, and it was decided to have a District Handbook. In 1939 were the first recorded minutes of the District Board of Directors and the adoption of the Standing Rules. In 1952, the 6th District officially became the Tidewater District. The name being chosen from a list of six suggestions. In 1956, the district newsletter, "The Tidewater Tidings," began circulation. In 1972 dues were raised from ten cents to twenty-five cents. In 1979, Mrs. Walter L. Thomas designed our District Coat of Arms, the first one in the state. In 1994 dues were once again increased from twenty-five cents to thirty-five cents for General Members and ten cents to twenty cents for Junior Members.

This brief sketch of Tidewater can in no way encompass the many accomplishments of our district, nor can it include the names of all the outstanding people that have worked to make our district so special. However, it is hoped that we never forget where and how we started.

(This information taken from "The History of Tidewater," written by Mrs. Normal L. Brown {Millie}.).

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