News From Terre Haute, Indiana

History

May 10, 2014

Historical treasure: Kent Women’s Club had a storied run

TERRE HAUTE — Nestled between Wabash and Liberty avenues, Kent Avenue was at one time the home of an active neighborhood and community organization.

Founded in 1911, the Kent Avenue Woman’s Club consisted of the women who resided on Kent Avenue. From its name, it could be conceived as only a social club, but in fact it promoted scholarship in its members and contributed to those less fortunate.

As stated in the organization’s by-laws, three committees addressed their mission: social, program and welfare. The social committee was to visit the sick of Kent Avenue and also to provide a social function for the Club.

The program committee was to prepare literary programs for each meeting; and welfare, to work with the Welfare League of Terre Haute to direct the Club in creating a “power of good in the community.”

Each year, the organization would produce a booklet describing the year’s programs; included was the hostess for each month and the presentation to be given. From the program booklets currently on display at the Vigo County Historical Museum, club presentations could be a reading from a known poem, discussion on a classical composer or even a political discussion. In the program list of the 1914-15 booklet, the program for Oct. 28, 1914, was to be a “political afternoon,” with an address about “equal suffrage.”

Part of the Club’s social agenda included a yearly Children’s Parade; the children of Kent Avenue would create small floats representing a particular topic or theme and showcase them in the parade, with the honor of being named a winner.

The Club’s community outreach was their greatest achievement; members raised money for the purchase of books and donations for Union Hospital and the Rose Orphans’ Home. Their benevolence also included the preparation of food baskets to give to the sick or poor.

Overall, it was the mission of the Club to educate and give back. As stated in the 1914-15 program booklet: “If you educate a man, you educate an individual; if you educate a woman, you educate an entire family.”

The Club remained active for 52 years, until it disbanded in 1963. Its active engagement is a testament to neighborhood cohesiveness and community dedication. Photos of the Kent Avenue Woman’s Club and its programs are displayed at the museum, in relation to the current exhibit “That Old Time Religion.”

Historical Treasure

•The Vigo County Historical Society’s museum is at 1411 S. Sixth St. Hours are 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

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