Croly started her first organization, the Women's Parliament, in 1856. Then, in 1869, she and other female journalists were denied tickets to hear Charles Dickens speak in New York City. This spurred her to form the famous women's club, Sorosis - a "centre of unity" that had neither a charitable nor socioeconomic purpose, but sought "collective elevation and advancement." As women's clubs began forming across the country, they became a center of educational advocacy and a sort of college for older women who wanted to learn.
As a result of her participation and creation of women's groups, Croly became very involved in supporting better working conditions for women, supporting professional female journalists, and personally advised and assisted educated girls looking for employment. Through her dedication to women's clubs, she revealed a commitment to women helping each other obtain the education and other reforms the society of men had failed to support.
In 1890, Croly formed the General Federation of Women's Clubs to support clubs throughout the nation and further their efforts at providing education, improved working conditions, health care, scholarships and other reforms.
Today, the General Federation of Women's Clubs (GFWC) is one of the world's largest and oldest women's volunteer service organizations. Working locally through thousands of clubs in the United States and globally in more than 20 countries, GFWC members support the arts, preserve natural resources, promote education, encourage healthy lifestyles, stress civic involvement, and work toward world peace and understanding. Clubs shape their local agendas to suit particular community needs.
Each local chapter benefits from membership, service, material, and program support from state and national Federation levels. GFWC headquarters in Washington, DC, a National Historic Landmark, houses the Women's History and Resource Center, a collection of books, periodicals and records devoted to women's history and women in volunteerism.Throughout our history, GFWC has made a significant impact nationwide and around the world. For example, seventy-five percent of public libraries in the United States were established by GFWC clubs! And, GFWC furnished the reception room and gave visibility for the first hospice in the country.The organization had a part in the passage of women’s right to vote, child labor regulations, and more recently, the Violence Against Women Act and the Lily Ledbetter Equal Pay Act. Members have supported Literacy Volunteers of America, the Paul and Lisa Foundation to help sexually abused children, and built the GFWC/CT Bluebird Therapeutic Park at the Alzheimer's Resource Center.
GFWC has raised thousands of dollars for many causes, some of which include:
That’s just a small fraction of the accomplishments that are part of the GFWC legacy. Today’s members are writing the history of GFWC and are a part of GFWC’s future accomplishments!
Correspondence can be addressed as follows:
General Federation of Women's Clubs
1739 N. Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20036-2990
GFWC of Connecticut has a membership of 48 woman's clubs across the state with over 2,000 members, addressing issues of importance within six community service programs: the arts, conservation, education, home life, international outreach, and public issues, as well as GFWC’s signature project of Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention. With "Unity In Diversity" as a motto, member clubs are able to choose programs and projects suitable to their interests. Thousands benefit from continuing programs delivered by dedicated volunteers.
Some accomplishments include:
The current president of GFWC/CT is JoAnn Calnen. Her theme is: "Give them something to talk about."
The last five state presidents are: