Learn more about the historic Ladies’ Literary Club by watching this short video made by Preservation Utah (formerly Utah Heritage Foundation) in 2013.
The woman's club movement was a social movement that took place throughout the United States. While women's organizations had always been a part of United States history, it was not until the Progressive era that it came to be considered a "movement." The first wave of the club movement during the Progressive era was started by white, middle-class, Protestant women and a second phase by African-American women. These clubs, most of which had started out as social and literary gatherings, eventually became a source of reform for various issues in the U.S.
Both African-American and white women's clubs were involved with issues surrounding education, temperance, child labor, juvenile justice, legal reform, environmental protection, library creation and more. Women's clubs helped start many initiatives such as kindergartens and juvenile court systems. Later, women's clubs tackled issues like women's suffrage, lynching and family planning. The clubs allowed women, who had little political standing at the time, to gain greater influence in their communities. Such clubs often accomplished their goals in town councils through sheer persistence and determination—a remarkable achievement considering that, prior to enfranchisement, women had no sanctioned political voice. By the time women won the vote in 1920, however, the club movement had lost much of its momentum, as new avenues for change opened to women.