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The Federation of Business & Professional Women’s Clubs was the first national organization in the world created by and for business and professional women.
INDIANA AND NATIONAL OF THIS WOMEN’S ORGANIZATION
The Federation of Business & Professional Women’s Clubs was the first national organization in the world created by and for business and professional women. The Federation was officially established on July 16, 1919, as a nonprofit, nonpartisan, and nonsectarian association. Its roots, however, go back some years earlier.
When the USA mobilized for World War I in early 1917, the government found that women were organized into religious or cultural groups or by separate professions, but not as an overall business and professional group. Therefore, a Women’s War Council was established by the War Department for this purpose. It was guided principally by Executives of the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) and was financed through a federal grant of $65,000.
After the Armistice was signed and war requirements ended, the ideas kindled in these women refused to die. Part of the $65,000 grant still remained and the Secretary of War agreed that classification and organization of trained woman power should be continued as a postwar project. An office to carry out this assignment was set up at the YWCA in New York City.
By March 1919, the committee was ready to recommend the establishment of State Federations and to call for a meeting of delegates from the states at a national convention, to be held in St. Louis in July 1919 with the objective of founding a permanent national organization.
By the third and final day of the first convention, the delegates had accepted the name, The National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, and a constitution had been adopted. The Federation’s treasury consisted of $15,000 remaining from the funds of the Women’s War Council. The National Federation was incorporated in the state of New York on July 18, 1921.
The Indiana Federation of Business and Professional Women was organized by representatives of twelve local organizations from over the state on March 15-16, 1918, at the Claypool Hotel in Indianapolis. The name first chosen for the state group was the Women’s Association of Commerce, and it was affiliated with the National Women’s Association of Commerce which was organized in July 1917 in Chicago.
Representatives from Indiana local organizations attending the first convention of Business and Professional Women were so enthusiastic over hearing descriptions of work done by clubs in the states of the Midwest, as well as Canada, that they came home filled with enthusiasm and began immediately to plan to bring all the local organizations in the state together in a state organization.
The program for the first state convention covered a discussion of opportunities in fields represented by women in attendance, such as sheep raising, court reporting, salesmanship, banking, real estate, lumber and insurance.
From the very beginning, the state organization took an active part of all current affairs that affect women. Resolutions at the first convention pledged the organization to promote the advancement of business women and the general welfare of women in all lines of work, commended Governor James P. Goodrich for the appointment of a woman factory inspector and favored the adoption of the Susan B. Anthony Woman Suffrage Amendment.
From 1920 on, members of the Indiana Federation of Business and Professional Women/INFBPW have lobbied actively in the Legislature for passage of bills improving conditions for women in the workplace. They have also worked to defeat legislation which would restrict the economic growth of women.
** More detailed historical accounts may be found in the National Handbook of Policies and Procedures and in The Indiana Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, Inc—A History 1918-1968. A copy is at the State Office and many of the Indiana Past State Presidents may have a copy.