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Cartwright, Carol Lohry; Shaffer, Scott; Waller, Randal / City on the Rock River : chapters in Janesville's history
(1998)

11. Social and political organizations,   pp. 189-207


Page 191

floor of the old City Hall (not extant). The dental clinic operated, with financial help from
the city, until well into the 1950s. (Janesville Federation of Women: n.p.)
One of the federation's most important projects was the Federation Welfare Department. In
1929, the Janesville city manager asked the federation to establish a city welfare department
that would be an adjunct to the county relief system. The city provided the money for a case
worker to assist the federation in administering the program. The city welfare department
provided assistance to the poor and administered the foster children program. In 1923, the
federation established the city's Well Baby Clinic to assist young families with
immunizations, vaccinations, and medical examinations. In the early 1960s, the federation
helped develop the Visiting Nurse Association in Janesville, which made its first visiting
nurse call in 1964. The federation helped furnish the visiting nurses' office and provided
supplies and equipment. (Janesville Federation of Women: n.p.; Nelesen, RCHS files)
The Janesville Federation of Women also supported other city organizations, including local
charities, medical charities, civic groups, and the Rock County Historical Society. The
federation also granted scholarships to local students. By the mid-1970s, though, the
federation's membership had aged. Younger women, who were entering the paid work force in
growing numbers, found it easier to participate in the established institutions of the community
and so were less active in local women's organizations. As a result, the Janesville Federation of
Women disbanded in the mid-1970s.
The Janesville Woman's Club Association began in 1927, when Mrs. W. H. H. Macloon gave the
Art League of Janesville a lot on South Jackson Street for the construction of a gallery to house
the league's artworks. When Mrs. George Parker heard about these plans, she donated $10,000
for a larger, multipurpose Woman's Club building. In April 1927, representatives of all the
women's clubs in Janesville met to make plans for the new Woman's Club Building. In July 1927,
the state chartered the new Janesville Woman's Club Association, and after almost $40,000 was
raised, the association in 1928 erected and furnished its new building at 108 S. Jackson St.
Because the Janesville Federation of Women provided some of the funding, the group used the
building for its meetings and earned a seat on the Woman's Club board of directors. The
federation continued to use the Woman's Club Building until it disbanded in the mid-1970s.
("A Brief History of the Janesville Woman's Club Association" RCHS files; Janesville
Federation of Women:n.p.)
The organizations involved in the Woman's Club Association were similar to the members of
the Janesville Federation of Women, with the addition of the Janesville Woman's and Junior
Woman's Clubs, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Woman's History Club, and
the League of Women Voters. Because most of these organizations were affiliated with state
and national offices, the Woman's Club Association decided to remain a building association
and not affiliate with any other organization. While the Woman's Club Association sponsored
many social and cultural events in its building, it was the individual clubs and organizations
that used the building most frequently. The building has also been made available to non-
member women's groups. ("A Brief History of the Janesville Woman's Club Association," RCHS
files)
Many large and medium-sized communities in Wisconsin had active women's clubs that erected
or purchased buildings for club use. What is most significant about Janesville's women's clubs is
that they united not only to construct an impressive building for their mutual use, but to
increase their power and effectiveness in the civic life of the community. The unified presence
of the women's clubs in Janesville allowed them to have a more significant impact on civic and
social welfare issues in the city than in many other communities. For this reason, the Janesville
Woman's Club Building, as the most important meeting place for women's organizations in
Social and Political Organizations
191


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