The story of Republican women's clubs begins many years before women even had the right to vote. Inspired by the Republican Platform of 1872, which said: "The Republican Party is mindful of its obligation to the loyal women of America for their noble devotion to the cause of Freedom ...," Republican women’s clubs were off and running. In fact, the oldest such club on record was founded in Salt Lake City in the late 1800s. Hundreds of independent Republican women’s clubs grew up around the nation in the years to come. For example, there were 140 clubs in Indiana alone by the late 1930s. It was in 1938 that Marion Martin, assistant chairman of the Republican National Committee, called a meeting at the Palmer House in Chicago to organize these clubs into a national organization. States in which Republican women’s clubs were organized on a “statewide” basis sent delegates and alternates to that meeting with a request to affiliate with such an organization. To be considered "statewide" at that time, a state or local club had to have members in 60 percent of the counties of that state. (Later this rule was changed to cover either 50 percent of the counties or 75 percent of the state's congressional districts.) The delegates adopted rules governing the establishment of a National Federation of Republican Women’s Clubs, with the following purposes: "to foster and encourage loyalty to the Republican Party and the ideals for which it stands - to promote education along political lines - to encourage closer cooperation between independent groups and the regular party organization, which are working for the same objectives, namely sound government - to promote an interchange of ideas and experiences of various clubs to the end that the policies which have proven particularly effective in one state may be adopted in another - and to encourage a national attitude and national approach to the problems facing the Republican Party." Eleven states became the charter states of NFRW - California, Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. At the age of 31, Joyce Arneill of Denver, Colo., was elected the first president of the Federation, and the organization began to grow.
At the time of NFRW’s founding, three states – Maryland, Virginia, and Alabama – had not even ratified the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution granting suffrage to women. The campaign of 1936 had reelected Franklin D. Roosevelt over Alf Landon with only two states – Maine and Vermont – going Republican. There were only six Republican governors, 89 Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives, and 16 in the Senate. And yet the National Federation of Republican Women – born in a climate of defeat – grew in size and strength, providing a vehicle for women concerned with the direction of our government. In 1940, the NFRW reported that, “Since the founding of the Federation, there has been a steady and consistent progress.” Thirty-four states, as well as the District of Columbia, were represented in the Federation through statewide federations and/or individual clubs. In its earliest days, the Federation was a lobbying group. In 1940, NFRW enlisted the support of its members to urge their representatives in Washington to hold free and open hearings and a full investigation on the amendments to the Wagner Labor Relations Act. They wrote their representatives during National Debt Week to impress them with the fact that constituents were concerned about the national debt. And on June 10, 1940, NFRW President Joyce Arneill sent a letter to all club presidents urging their help in keeping Congress in session until the immediate crisis of the “foreign situation” was past. By September 1, 1943, 23 statewide federations held membership in the national organization, along with 98 individual clubs from 16 states. In January 1953, the organization's name was changed to the National Federation of Republican Women.
Today, the NFRW – once an auxiliary of the Republican National Committee – is financially and organizationally independent. It is one of the largest grassroots political organizations in the country with thousands of active members in local clubs across the nation.
Please visit www.nfrw.org for information on the activities of the National Federation of Republican Women!
The California Federation of Republican Women was organized in January 1925. Although women in California have had the right to vote since 1911, the women of Southern California did not become actively interested in good government until the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which granted equal suffrage, in 1920. They organized the Los Angeles Republican Study Club with Mrs. Florence Collins Porter as leader. This Study Club became a model for other cities. Mrs. Porter served as an Associate Member of the Republican National Committee. In 1924, while continuing her efforts with the Republican Study Club, she seconded the nomination of Calvin Coolidge for President. In January of 1925 three women issued a call to women of various clubs in Southern California and to women in San Francisco and Berkeley, to attend a meeting in Los Angeles. At this meeting the California Federation of Republican Women was formed. Mrs. Porter was elected President of Southern Division and Mrs. Parker Maddux, of San Francisco, as President of Northern Division. In 1937-38 Central Division was formed. At the 1938 biennial conventions the members voted to join the newly organized National Federation of Women's Clubs under the name of the California Council of Republican Women. In 1954 National became the National Federation of Republican Women and our State organization again became known as the California Federation of Republican Women. The objective of the Federation, established in the Bylaws, was "to promote a wider knowledge of principles and policies of the Republican Party." Its goal, also, was to cooperate with the County and State Central committees to help elect Republican candidates to office. Mrs. O. P. Clark was the first CFRW President, 1925-1931. She also was elected in 1924 to serve as the first National Committeewoman from California.
Throughout the years the Federation continued to grow in membership and activities. The members worked on campaigns, taught English and Americanism to the foreign born, and held political seminars throughout the State with the goals of electing Republicans to public office; promoting participation of women in politics; informing members on current legislative issues; providing membership input to legislators at local, state, and national levels; and developing a community volunteer program to address important social issues and concerns. In 1970-1971 the first statewide Spring conference, emphasizing legislation, was held in Sacramento; thus began the education of CFRW's members on the issues in the Capitol. In 1972 a "Talent Bank" was established to encourage Republican Women of outstanding ability to seek elective office or appointments to state commissions and boards. In 1974-1975, President Marie Solberg followed suggestions by Governor Ronald Reagan and legislators that the Federation should be a viable force in the legislative process, CFRW established an advocacy program. The purpose of this program was to put CFRW in direct communication with members of the State legislature. Nancy Ehlers was appointed the first chairman and in 1976 was registered as the first full time (volunteer) CFRW lobbyist. Issues Chairmen were appointed statewide to study proposed legislation and prepare "pro" and "con" analyses to be reviewed by the 3 division presidents and the state president and 3 vice presidents in deciding whether CFRW would support or oppose said legislation. The Advocate in Sacramento monitors and reports on the progress of specific bills through the legislature. An Action Alert Hot Line was also organized in order to ensure fast statewide CFRW member response to pending legislation or other action when needed.
In 1979 a small office two blocks from the Capitol was rented. We were on our way! Many things have changed over the years. Our Advocate is now a paid staff member and we also have a Legislative Assistant working in our Sacramento office. We study not only pending legislation but ballot propositions. We have updated our office equipment to handle today's "electronic highway."
Women are the powerful force for the 21st Century and the California Federation of Republican Women is helping to lead the way.
Please visit www.cfrw.org for information on the activities of the California Federation of Republican Women!