Past on Parade: Woman’s Civic League of Pasadena help shape city


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http://archive.org/stream/somepreliminarys00woma#page/n1/mode/2up (go to top of left hand side of page to the ‘back’ arrow to return to the WCL website after viewing links to news articles)

The Woman’s Civic League Begins

 The Woman’s Civic League of Pasadena was founded in spring 1911 by Clara Burdette, who invited 50 women to join her in creating a higher sense of civic responsibility through membership in this non-partisan organization.

The Woman’s Civic League organized quickly and set to work advocating for better public policy, from community health issues to municipal planning. Forming into committees, members advocated successfully for the removal of unsightly billboards around town, pasteurization of milk, availability of a clean water supply and the addition of kindergarten classes at public schools.

Dues were $2 per year and initially funded a free dental clinic for school children and a survey of industrial conditions, especially those experienced by teenaged workers.

City Beautiful Movement

The Woman’s Civic League soon actively supported the City Beautiful movement that introduced the concept of beautification and monumental grandeur to cities. 

The founding members were for ahead of their time in their active campaigning on social issues and governmental reform. In the early years some of their efforts involved establishing kindergarten as part of the regular school system, free rubbish collection, weeds removed from vacant lots and wildflower seeds were sown to beautify them. Additionally, inspection of milk supply, restaurants, beauty parlors and hotel kitchens.

By 1915, with membership growing to nearly 200 members, the Woman’s Civic League became even more involved in the City Beautiful movement when it published a booklet titled “Some Preliminary Suggestions for a Pasadena Plan.” The booklet included text from two speeches presented to the Woman’s Civic League by George A. Damon, dean of engineering at Throop College of Technology (now Caltech), who envisioned a Pasadena Civic Center that would include a number of new buildings between Raymond and Euclid avenues and Colorado and Walnut streets. The booklet also included drawings and photographs.

Following publication of the booklet, the Woman’s Civic League worked closely with the Pasadena City Beautiful Association to advocate strongly for Damon’s plan. Proactive advocacy by the Woman’s Civic League at City Council meetings led to passage of a bond issue to fund construction of the Pasadena Public Library and Pasadena City Hall in the area initially sketched out by Damon; eventually, the YWCA, YMCA, Police Department, Post Office, Courthouse and Civic Auditorium would be constructed in the Civic Center.

In 1916, the League began a volunteer program of classes for immigrants to learn English. In the twenty’s, members backed the efforts for preservation of the California redwoods and actively campaigned for planting of trees on Colorado Boulevard.

Committees Are Organized

Members of the Woman’s Civic League served on a number of committees that researched and reported at monthly meetings on issues related to education, health and sanitation as well as state, federal and foreign affairs. Through the decades, these committees were active in civic engagement, and local newspapers were filled with articles about their work.

In the 1930’s, members protested a state highway through Brookside Park. They endorsed a plan to borrow surplus finds from the Department of Water an Power to help build the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.

By the 1950s the scope of civic involvement had expanded with more than 20 committees ranging from the Women in Employment and Juvenile Protection committees to the Cultural Civic Interests and Advisory-Policy committees.

Committee work led to social change as well as community engagement in important issues. In the early 1960s, for example, the Woman’s Civic League partnered with the Pasadena Board of City Directors (now called the City Council) to host The Pasadena Community Conference on Youth, the first event of its kind in the city’s history.

The Woman’s Civic League Today

Today, League members span a broad range of life career and volunteer work in education, social work, government service, the arts and other activities benefiting their community.

Since 1944, the League has honored local women for their notable contributions to their fields and their community. Funds raised through the League’s annual Holiday Boutique and auction are distributed as grants to member selected non-profit organizations serving women, children and youth. Each Spring, the League honors young women chosen by their middle school counselors and teachers for notable improvement in their scholastic standing by overcoming health and/or environmental setbacks to their education.

The League holds a luncheon meeting each month from September through June. The Executive Committee includes President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and five Directors. Committees include Education and Youth, Health Services, Ways and Means, CIvic Affairs and Cultural Affairs. The Executive Committee members and Committee Chairs meet before the luncheon meetings held in the Women’s CIty Club dining room.

A speaker is selected by each committee to be featured at a luncheon. An expert in the field or representative of an organization with information in the committee’s assigned area makes a twenty-five-thirty minute presentation followed by a QandA session. Thus the members are kept informed on important issues, activities and community resources.





By Patt Diroll  10-09-11  Pasadena Star News  

untitledJackie Johnson, left, Jane Muller, and Rita Elshout at the Women’s Civic League Celebration. (James Carbone / Correspondent)

http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/general-news/20111009/patt-diroll-power-chicks-list-of-achievements-is-long  (go to top of left hand side of page to the ‘back’ arrow to return to the WCL website after viewing links to news articles)

Remember the slogan, “Never Underestimate the Power of a Woman?” That was, and still is, the motto of the venerable “Ladies Home Journal.”

The old mantra was the first thing that came to mind when I attended the Pasadena Women’s Civic League’s 100th anniversary celebration on Sept. 23 at the Women’s City Club.

Perusing the list of the league members’ monumental achievements, since Clara Baker Burdette first mobilized them in 1911, clearly ensures their place as Pasadena’s original “power chicks.”

Burdette was the quintessential “club woman.”

She organized the California Federation of Women’s Clubs in 1900, served as its first president and in 1902 became vice president of the national Federation.

She held the league’s inaugural meeting, at Pasadena’s Maryland Hotel, five months before California granted women’s suffrage.The membership fee was $2, and the agenda included the city’s pasteurized milk and clean water supply, free garbage collection and the addition of kindergarten to the school system. Those issues propelled a century-long series of projects that would ultimately change the face of Pasadena.

“Besides all the things league members achieved over the years in education, public health, political action, and women’s rights, their greatest impact was in support for a city plan and a civic center,” said Pasadena author/historian Ann Scheid, who spoke at the event.

“The plan that they published in 1915 resulted in the creation of our Civic Center – the Central Library, City Hall, Civic Auditorium, Memorial Park, and the many other buildings that cluster around the area.”

Joining in the anniversary toasts were Pasadena City Council members Margaret McAustin and Chris Holden, former Mayor Rick Cole and family, league President Katie Ryland, former presidents Susan Poster, Rita Sahlein, Jane Muller, Barbara Cole, historian/columnist Sid Gally, and longtime WCL members Rita Elshout, Monica Hubbard.

12From left, Thea Winner, Cornelia Fuller, Beth Calleton, and Sandy McConnell. (James Carbone / Correspondent)

34 Ann Scheid, left, and Barbara Cole during the Women’s Civic League Celebration. (James Carbone / Corresponde


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some additional points of interest:


Study sources of milk supply for City. First speaker before League, Dr. Stanley P. Black.
Subject: The Milk Supply of Pasadena

1916-1917 City Government

Vote to support City Planning Commission in work against City County Consolidation.
Flood control studied.

Point of interest in 1916 regarding the Pasadena Womans Civic League with regard to Pasadena theatre interests in an excerpt from this book:  51IKjmCcx-L__SY346_

“The two most important events in Pasadena’s theater history occurred in 1916  when the Pasadena women separated from the Los Angeles Drama Leauge to form their own center of the Drama League of America. The Pasadena women’s enthusiasm for little theater sprang from a series of women’s organizations devoted to the dramas.  At the start of Pasadena’s Drama League, president Sibyl Eliza Jones attracted influential members of the community to give the group immediate social standing.  One woman invited to serve as vice-president was Virginia Pease Hunt, active in her community through the Woman’s Civic League.  Hunt’s husband Myron was the architect of most of the grand structures in the city: The Huntington Library, the California Institute of Technology, the Rose Bowl and resort hotels and lavish residences.”

1922-1923 Legislation

Petition for revision of State budget to increase appropriation for humanitarian work.
Community property bill passed.

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Mrs. Frank S. Wallace 1924-1925, Mrs. M. Grant Edmands 1925, Mrs. William J. Carr 1925-1926, Mrs. Datus C. Smith 1926-1928, Mrs. Charles O. McCasland 1928-1930, Mrs. William J. Stone 1930-1932, Mrs. Howard D. Phillis 1932-1934, Mrs. Joseph H. Dorm 1934-1936, Mrs. Arthur J. Wingard 1936-1938, Mrs. Phillip Edson-Wallace 1938-1939, Mrs. Lewis Ives Pierce 1939-1941, Mrs. William E. Hansen 1941-1943, Mrs. J. Maria Pierce 1943-1945, Mrs. Robert W. Reitzell 1945-1947, Mrs. Adam Pashgain 1947-1948, Mrs. Robert Burt 1948-1949, Mrs. Loyal K. King 1949-1951, Mrs. William E. Fox 1951-1953, Mrs. Stanley E. Kyle 1953-1955, Mrs. Joseph H. Bennett 1955-1957, Mrs. Doris Hoit 1957-1958, Mrs. Howard W. Powley 1958-1960, Mrs. George S. Shar 1960-1961, Miss Ada Riddlesbarger  1961-1963, Mrs. A. Boardman Ganfield 1963-1965, Mrs. Fried E. Rhodes 1965, Mrs. Fred C. Nash 1965-1966, Mrs. Joseph H. Tout,  Jr. 1966-1967, Mrs. Charles G. Williams 1967-1968, Mrs. Howard W. Powley 1968-1969, Mrs. Kenneth Learned 1969-1971, Mrs. A. Boardman Ganfield 1971-1973, Mrs. Byron Weintz 1973-1974, Mrs. Kermit Jacobson 1974-1975, Mrs. Bruce Lawson 1975-1976, Mrs. John Wright 1976-1978, Mrs. William Tyner 1978-1980, Mrs. Homer Pheasant 1980-1982, Mrs. Audre L. Strong 1982-1984, Mrs. Gordon S. Smith 1984-1986, Mrs. M.D. Brockie 1986-1988, Mrs. Alice Mothershead Lawler 1988-1989, Mrs. M. d. Brockie 1989-1991, Mrs. Frank P. Graham 1991-1992, Miss Winifred D. Taylor 1992-1994, Mrs. Helen E. Lowe 1994-1996, Mrs. Susan Poster 1996-1998, Miss Thelma Johnson 1998-2000, Mrs. Rita Sahlein 2000-2002, Miss Marguerite Hougasian 2002-2004, Ms. Marilyn Stalder-Burke 2004-2006, Mrs. Susie Vernand 2006-2008, Mrs. Barbara Cole 2008-2009, Mrs. Jane Muller 2009-2011, Mrs. Katie Ryland 2011-2014, Mrs. Barbara Cole 2014-2016, Mrs. Lisa Fowler 2016-


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