Our History

GFWC-SC was founded through the work of Mrs. J. H. Adams of the Once-A-Week Club of Seneca.  With the help of Mrs. M. W. Coleman, club president, a call was sent out to other women’s clubs for an organizational meeting to form a federation.  This meeting was held on June 15-16, 1898 in Seneca.  Representatives from nineteen literary or reading clubs or organizations attended the meeting.

Mrs. Clark Waring of Columbia was chosen as chairman for the meeting.  Mrs. J. H. Adams served as secretary.  The meeting resulted in the creation of the South Carolina Federation of Women’s Clubs.  A constitution was adopted, noting that the object of the Federation “shall be to bring together the several women’s clubs of the State for mutual benefit.”  The following officers were elected:

  • President---Mrs. M. W. Coleman, Seneca
  • Vice-President---Mrs. T. S. Mean, Spartanburg
  • Recording Secretary---Miss Louisa B. Poppenheim, Charleston
  • Corresponding Secretary---Miss Mary Hemphill, Abbeville
  • Treasurer---Mrs. E. J. Roach, Rock Hill

The following departments were created to guide the work of the new federation:
Philanthropy and Civics, Horticulture and Village Improvement, and Education. The special work for the first year of SCFWC was Library Extension. From 1898 to 1907 boxes of books were sent from club to club by train. These boxes were transported free by the railroads. Various clubs began to sponsor the organization of small libraries. These libraries resulted in our present day system of public libraries in South Carolina.

The first convention of SCFWC was held in 1899 at Chester, South Carolina. The guest speaker was Mrs. Rebecca W. Lowe of Georgia, President of GFWC. After her speech, SCFWC voted to become a member of GFWC. SCFWC was admitted to GFWC on July 29, 1899. The convention banquet was held in Gresham’s Eating House at the Seaboard Depot. The menu included shrimp, crabs, chicken, stuffed eggs, olives, fruits, ice cream, sherbet, bread, several different kinds of cake, and non-alcoholic beverages.

In 1900, the first delegates from SCFWC attended the GFWC Convention in Milwaukee. The delegates were Louisa and Mary Poppenheim from Charleston. In 1902, Louisa Poppenheim was elected Corresponding Secretary of GFWC and held this office for four years. Through her work the federations of North Carolina, Virginia, Mississippi, Alabama, and West Virginia became members of GFWC. The first magazine of SCFWC was called “The Keystone.” It was started by Miss Ida Lining and Miss Mary Poppenheim of Charleston in 1900 and continued until 1913. A yearly subscription cost fifty cents or five cents for a single copy. This magazine also listed news about North Carolina, Virginia, Mississippi, and Florida. In 1924 Dr. D. B. Johnson, President of Winthrop College, financed an eight-page paper “The Federation Bulletin.” Miss Leila Russell was the editor. Issues were printed each month from September to June. In April 1939, “The Palmettoan” became the Federation magazine. It was edited by Bessie Rogers Drake. “The SC Clubwoman” was started by Mrs. Joe P. Lane in 1946. Our current “GFWC-SC Clubwoman” is the successor of these earlier publications.

The main emphasis during the first decade of SCFWC activities was the educational needs of the state. After starting our library program, SCFWC stressed compulsory school attendance, which resulted in the present day statewide attendance program. SCFWC also sponsored gift scholarships to help girls attend college. These gift scholarships turned into the Loan Fund in 1919, which allowed a girl to secure a loan from SCFWC to defray her college expenses. This emphasis on education has continued to be a part of the programs of SCFWC and GFWC-SC. Further results included the Boys Industrial School, Girls Industrial School, Whitten Village, Dr. Wil Lou Gray’s Opportunity School, and the GFWC-SC Scholarship Fund.

Better health for the citizens of South Carolina was also an emphasis of SCFWC. The Federation, as early as 1900, dealt with the issue of tuberculosis and its control and treatment in South Carolina. Clubwomen worked for the establishment of the United States Public Health Service. The passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 was largely the result of actions taken by clubwomen. Other health issues over the years have included infant welfare, child hygiene, inoculations, polio, heart disease, mental health, and breast cancer.

During the years of World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II, SCFWC continued its efforts to aid the citizens of South Carolina. In World War I, SCFWC purchased $1,800 in Liberty Bonds and contributed $1,000 to the Community Clubs in army camp towns. The Federation also contributed $2,225 to the GFWC fund to establish furlough houses in France for American soldiers. Three members of Federation served in a service unit known as the “Over Seas” Girls. The same type of wartime activities was supported by SCFWC during World War II. During the Great Depression the members of Federation worked to provide relief for the needy, underprivileged, and unemployed citizens of South Carolina. Mrs. C. F. Lawrence, SCFWC President, organized the Council for the Common Good. This Council studied and planned legislation for public welfare. On March 22, 1929, SCFWC became an incorporated organization. The charter of incorporation, received from the state of South Carolina, is found on page 24.

Between 1919 and 1951, these four major funds of the Federation were created. 1919 The Endowment Fund was started by Mrs. Leroy Springs with a donation of $2000. The interest from the fund is used today to help with the Federation President’s travel. 1919 The Student Loan Fund was created to help girls defray their college expenses. The initial donation of $2100 was raised by Miss Mabel Montgomery using “the Methodist collection method” at the annual Convention. This fund was later known as the International Scholarship and Student Loan Fund. Today it is the GFWC-SC Scholarship Fund and provides assistance to both female and male college students sponsored by the clubs of GFWC-SC. 1929 The Headquarters Fund was created to maintain the building and grounds of headquarters. 1951 The Progress Foundation was created during the administration of Mrs. Angus H. Macaulay. Mr. and Mrs. T. B. Stackhouse and twenty-six Founders made $1000 donations to begin the Foundation. Interest from the money today is given to clubs who apply for a grant to help complete special projects or programs of their clubs. A plaque listing the original Founders is located in the foyer, to the right of the front door, at Headquarters.

In the middle 1900’s, led by a series of capable, dedicated, and distinguished presidents, Federation made further contributions to South Carolina and its citizens.  Some of these accomplishments were:

      • donations to CARE, with Frank Goffio, executive director of CARE speaking at Winter Board
      • national awards for work done in Gerontology
      • work done for the eradication of illiteracy
      • programs sponsoring highway safety
      • work to improve mental health care
      • crusade for seat belts
      • work with the youth of South Carolina to create a better world
      • campaign to increase the number of registered voters in South Carolina
      • work to improve the environment
      • creation of a “Pennies For Pines” forest dedicated to past SCFWC presidents ( located in
      • Sumter National Forest in Newberry County)
      • increased Federation membership

Work done on the programs and projects during these years of Federation has been carried forward into the 21st century.  Clubs still work on variations of many of these programs and projects.

In 1955, at the Convention held in Florence South Carolina, Mrs. Leonard O. Page, SCFWC President, called together the Junior Clubs of Federation.  The purpose of this meeting was to create a Junior Division of SCFWC and the result of the meeting was the Junior Division, as we know it today.  Mrs. Willie Query of the Junior Woman’s Club of Columbia was chosen as the first Junior Director.  The first rules concerning the new Junior Division were adapted from the North Carolina Federation and over the years needed changes and additions have been made to them.  Between 1957-1959, the fund to help with the Junior Director’s travel and the Junior Program Chairmen were formed.  In the 1959-1961 Administration, the age limit of 35 was adopted to conform to GFWC.  Today most Junior clubs use the age limit of 40, with each club having the discretion of keeping members past age 40.  Over the years, the focus of the Junior clubs has been CHILDREN.  The projects of the Junior clubs have included:

  • building and maintaining shelters for neglected or abused children
  • providing materials for schools
  • being mentors or assistants in schools
  • helping with community marches for polio and other childhood diseases
  • planning and providing seasonal parties (Christmas, Easter, Halloween) for community children
  • working at recreational centers for youth.

Besides their special Junior projects on both the state and national levels, the Junior clubs have always participated in the department and other special programs of Federation.  Led by many capable Junior Directors, the Junior clubs have made a major impact on the lives of the children of South Carolina.  Today, the Junior Division of Federation consists of 10 clubs and continues to be an active, vital part of GFWC-SC.
During the 105-year history of Federation, special celebrations were planned and presented for each 25th anniversary.  These celebrations occurred during the annual convention in these years:

1923---Silver Anniversary
1948---Golden Anniversary
1973---Diamond Jubilee
1998---Centennial Celebration.

In 1990, in compliance with a request from GFWC, Federation changed its name.  The South Carolina Federation of Women’s Clubs became The General Federation of Women’s Clubs of South Carolina.  The change occurred during the administration of Mrs. Marie Hammond.
After serving as state leaders in SCFWC or GFWC-SC, several Federation members obtained leadership positions at the regional level, including:

  • Ollie Childress---Southeastern Region President
  • Jean Kight---Southern Region President
  • Janet Agnew---Southern Region President
  • Nancy Boozer--- Southern Region President
  • Jackie Boland--- Southern Region President

In 2010, the General Federation of Women’s Club of South Carolina endorsed the candidacy of Marian St. Clair, GFWC-SC Past President 2002-2004 for the position of Treasurer of the International General Federation of Women’s Clubs. Since her term as GFWC-SC President, Marian has achieved national recognition for her service to GFWC as a member of the Bylaws Committee, Beautification Chairman, member of the Leadership Committee and work with the Leadership Education and Training Program (LEADS).  Marian made GFWC-SC history in June, 2010 with her election and installation as GFWC Treasurer in Omaha, Nebraska. In 2012, Marian was elected and installed as GFWC Secretary in Charlotte, North Carolina. GFWC-SC is making plans for Marian’s progression toward the Presidency of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs through our 2020 Spotlight South Carolina Campaign. Federation is proud of the accomplishments of these ladies and the work done by them at the regional and national level.

Several other women’s organizations are offshoots of SCFWC.  They are the South Carolina Library Association, Garden Club of South Carolina, South Carolina Art Association, South Carolina Music Association, and the South Carolina Council for the Common Good.

Since the beginning of the 21st Century led by a series of distinguished presidents, Federation has made even further contributions internationally, nationally and to South Carolina and its citizens.  Some of these accomplishments were:

  • donations to Operation Smile with SC as the recipient of three national Paula Cutler Awards
  • for our sewing of  hospital gowns and donations toward the repair of cleft lip, palate and facial deformities for children around the globe
  • national monetary awards recognizing programs in the areas of literacy, women’s financial issues and women’s health
  • the first GFWC-SC website was launched May, 2004
  • conservation projects to promote and protect state resources and preserve native plants and animals and implementation of beautification, litter, waste handling and recycling projects in communities
  • projects and awareness programs on domestic violence and child neglect co-producing a TV Public Service Announcement on child abuse with the Children’s Trust Fund of South Carolina
  • built Habitat for Humanity homes for the needy through the Women’s Build Project and donated 1200 pounds of nails for Habitat building projects
  • recognized nationally for community safety projects and leadership programs
  • supported shelters through clothing, food and monetary contributions
  • held self-defense training programs for women, participated in stroke and ovarian cancer awareness campaigns, and recognized nationally for donations to GFWC Home Life Partnership Programs - Easter Seals, March of Dimes, National Osteoporosis Foundation, Canines For Independence and Alzheimer’s Association
  • nationally recognized for membership advancement projects and programs
  • contributions to emergency relief efforts following September 11 and recent devastation in Haiti, Japan and here in the United States-particularly Florida, Louisiana and Alabama


Clubs still work on variations of many of the projects and programs started over the past 100+ years of Federation history.

PAST PRESIDENTS OF SCFWC AND GFWC-SC

1898-1900 Mrs. M. W. Coleman
1900-1902 Miss Louisa B. Poppenheim
1902-1904 Mrs. Martha O. Patterson
1904-1906 Mrs. Wilbur K. Sligh
1906-1908 Mrs. A. F. McKissick
1908-1910 Mrs. W. B. Burney
1910-1912 Mrs. J. M. Visanka
1912-1914 Mrs. M. T. Coleman
1914-1916 Mrs. J. W. Allen
1916-1918 Mrs. J. L. Coker
1918-1919 Mrs. Leroy Springs
1919-1921 Mrs. Rufus Fant
1921-1922 Mrs. S. O. Plowden
1922-1923 Mrs. Adam Moss
1923-1924 Mrs. John Drake
1924-1926 Mrs. J. W. Gorman
1926-1927 Mrs. R. B. Furman
1927-1930 Mrs. W. D. Magginis
1930-1931 Mrs. J. M. Patterson
1931-1934 Mrs. E. D. Sallenger
1934-1937 Mrs. C. Fred Laurence
1937-1939 Mrs. A. Fletcher Spigner
1939-1942 Mrs. J. E. Groce
1942-1946 Mrs. Joe P. Lane
1946 Mrs. R. I. Burnett
1946-1949 Mrs. William R. Wallace
1949-1950 Mrs. Norman W. Lynch
1950-1951 Mrs. Walter S. Suber
1951-1953 Mrs. Angus H. Macaulay
1953-1955 Mrs. Leonard O. Page
1955-1957 Mrs. Harry L. Jones
1957-1959 Mrs. John R. Childress
1959-1961 Mrs. W. C. Flanagan
1961-1963 Mrs. Cyril B. Busbee
1963-1966 Mrs. Wayne Unger
1966-1968 Mrs. John R. Wolff
1968-1970 Mrs. H. Sanford Howie
1970-1972 Mrs. Hubert Hendrix
1972-1974 Mrs. B. H. Martin
1974-1976 Mrs. Lynwood Smith
1976-1978 Mrs. R. Larry Kight
1978-1980 Miss Janet Agnew
1980-1982 Mrs. Perry Ann Renwick
1982-1984 Mrs. Virginia “Sissy” Welch
1984-1986 Mrs. Rosemary Rivers
1986-1988 Mrs. Joyce Shaw
1988-1990 Mrs. Marie Hammond
1990-1992 Mrs. Elise Cain
1992-1994 Mrs. Nancy Boozer
1994-1996 Mrs. Sylvia E. Ayers
1996-1998 Mrs. Debbie Alexander
1998-2000 Mrs. Jackie Boland
2000-2002 Mrs. Jolene Bryant
2002-2004 Mrs. Marian S. St.Clair
2004-2006 Mrs. Lynn Cleckler
2006-2008 Mrs. Kathy Monahon
2008-2010 Mrs. Tammy Garland
2010-2012 Mrs. Laurie O'Kelly
2012-2014 Mrs. JoAnn Bolchoz
2014-2016 Ms. Caroline Mahaffey

PAST JUNIOR DIRECTORS OF SCFWC AND GFWC-SC
1955-1957 Mrs. J. H. Query
1957-1959 Mrs. Sidney D. Duncan
1959-1961 Mrs. Hubert Hendrix
1961-1963 Mrs. Jesse B. Davis
1963-1964 Mrs. George J. Bishop, III
1964-1965 Mrs. Patrick E. Wilson
1965-1966 Mrs. Pete Blackmon
1966 Mrs. Ray C. Ballew
1966-1968 Mrs. Zeb Smith
1968 Mrs. C. Ray Massey
1969-1970 Mrs. Ralph D. Taylor
1970-1972; Mrs. A. E. Wood
1972-1974 Mrs. Eugene M. Broome
1974-1976; Mrs. Forney W. Lowe
1976-1978; Mrs. J. G. Rowland
1978-1980 Mrs. J. L. Dozier
1980-1982 Mrs. L. Dale Boozer
1982-1984 Mrs. James S. Carpenter
1984-1986 Mrs. Sally Ann Marchalonis
1986-1988 Mrs. Debbie Alexander
1988-1990 Mrs. Brenda Kiser
1990-1992 Mrs. Jackie Boland
1992-1994 Mrs. Susan Haynes
1994-1995 Miss Robin Hillyer
1995-1997 Mrs. Lindsay McKeown
1997-1998 Mrs. Susan Haynes
1998-2000 Mrs. Tammy Garland
2000-2002 Mrs. Laura Bryant Palmer
2002-2004 Mrs. Julia Sermons
2004-2008 Miss. Linda Rodgers
2008-2010 Mrs. Carolina Brown
2010-2012 Ms. Michele Hood
2012-2014 Rachel Fulmer
2014-2016 Mrs. Katie Moydell

CHARTER CLUBS OF SCFWC
The seventeen clubs listed below federated as charter clubs of SCFWC (currently GFWC-SC) in Seneca, SC, on June 16, 1898:
Alturian Club, Pelham
Amelia Pride Club, Rock Hill
Every Thursday Club, Union
Ladies Library Association, Spartanburg
Literacy Club, Abbeville
Once-A-Week Club, Seneca*
Over-The-Teacups Club, Rock Hill*
Palmetto Circle, Rock Hill
Paul Hayne Circle, Walhalla*
Perhelion Club, Rock Hill*
Sin Nombre Club, Chester
The Century Club, Charleston
The Palmetto Club, Chester
The Wednesday Club, Laurens
The West End Club, Greenville
Thursday Afternoon Club/Thursday Club, Greenville
Up-To-Date Club, Chester
*maintain current membership in GFWC-SC