Oberlin Sorosis

On September 18, 1897, several women met with Mrs. W.C. Bunce for the purpose of organizing a club to be known as Oberlin Sorosis. This became the first woman's club in Oberlin formed for purely intellectual and social purposes. Officers were elected (Mrs. Bunce was the first President) and a constitution was adopted. The club colors chosen were crimson and white; the club flower a carnation and the motto "We pledge ourselves to unity, loyalty to each other and the best interests of this club." Membership was limited to 25 members.

During the first year, members listened to selections played on the piano, violin and cello. Topics of discussion included: "The Women of Today," "Puritans in Colonial History" and "Modern Methods of Education."

At the turn of the century reports were given on "Advantages and Dangers of Modern Plumbing," "Bacteria, Description and Life History," "How to Clothe a Family of Five on $300 a Year", and "Results of Experiments with Different Methods of Removing and Destroying Dust." Papers and Reviews were given on "The Five Women of Shakespeare (namely Cordelia, Portia, Katharine, Lady MacBeth, and Rosalind), "The Woman in Pagan Times," and a debate "Resolved that Henry the VIII was Justified in Divorcing Himself from Catharine." Affirmative was by Mrs. Andrews and Negative by Mrs. Burgner.

The tenth anniversary of Oberlin Sorosis was celebrated in November 1907 at the home of Mrs. A.B. Comings. A number of prominent clubwomen were present from Cleveland, Elyria, Lorain, Wellington, Sandusky, Wakeman and Oberlin.

In October 1908 the delegate to State Federation reported that the convention put on record five vital points: 1) The advocacy of more stringent laws seeking the abolition of child labor; 2) The absolute separation of boards of education from politics; 3) The giving to women criminals the same status in the reformatory in Mansfield as men; 4) The maintaining by the Federation of girls in English Institutions of learning; and 5) The more perfect training of school teachers.

In November 1912 "Miss Dickson asked permission to present the cause, or present causes, of Equal Suffrage League before the Club for 10 or 15 minutes, and she presented same at the December meeting."

During the World War I years Sorosis members were involved in many different patriotic activities such as sewing for the Red Cross, supporting a French war orphan, serving no refreshments for the year, sending Christmas cards to Oberlin boys in camps, giving $50 to the fund to send Women Physicians abroad and purchasing liberty bonds.

On January 19, 1922, Sorosis members were invited by Mr. Gardiner, Manager of the Oberlin Telephone System, to a demonstration of the telephone system. Also during 1922 it was moved that Sorosis give a $5 contribution to the proper care of the High School restroom. Mrs. Henderson was appointed a member of the Rest Room Committee.

In March 1938 Sorosis celebrated its 40th anniversary at the Oberlin Inn. Mrs. Kinney gave a history of the club from its organization, telling of its activities through the years. Mr. W. K. Breckinridge, who had played the piano at the first meeting of Sorosis, played again at the 40th anniversary.

During World War II members supported a committee for the sale of defense stamps in cooperation with other organizations of the village. Professor Moore spoke on the timely subject of "Why the Japanese were fighting the United States." The Red Cross was seeking blood donors and members were asked to "increase our efforts to save grease, tin cans and silk stockings." Mrs. Holmes representing the Woman-Power Committee made an urgent plea for women to take full or part-time jobs in industry or other essential jobs.

In May 1948 Oberlin Sorosis celebrated the 50th anniversary of the club with a luncheon at the Oberlin Inn. Members, depicting in a humorous vein, a meeting as it might have occurred 50 years ago presented a program. All who participated wore hats of the period, which added greatly to the atmosphere.

In December 1951 members decided to send a CARE package to Korea, to be financed by donations.

In 1961 members were urged to support and vote for the Child Welfare Levy. Contributions were sent to the Lorain County Welfare to "help in the training of people who have been on Welfare for some time so that they may become either partially or wholly self-supporting." In the latter part of the sixties Sorosis members were asked to bake cookies and to contribute money to cover expenses of sending them to soldiers in Vietnam.

In 1971 several inmates from Grafton spoke on drugs at the high school. In 1972 the group turned down an offer from the Municipal Swimming Pool committee to speak at a meeting. Sorosis celebrated their 80th anniversary in 1977 by having a group picture taken by Daniel Messaros, Photographer. Charities supported in the 1970's included Dollars for Scholars, Campership Fund, Muscular Sclerosis, Hospital Bazaar and Community Welfare Council.

On September 30, 1997 Oberlin Sorosis celebrated their 100th anniversary at the Oberlin Inn. The meeting was called to order by President Mrs. Howard Broadwell. The program consisted of reenactments of Sorosis presentations over the years. The presenters wore the appropriate fashionable dresses. Dick Holsworth, volunteer photographer, took a group picture.