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Sandusky Coterie Records - MS 209
The records of the Sandusky Coterie date from 1896 to 1982. The history and activities of this Erie County women's literary club are reflected in one linear foot of minutes, membership and treasury records, papers given, a brief history, and annual programs.
The records of the Sandusky Coterie were donated to the Women's Studies Archives Project (WSAP) of the Center for Archival Collections in January 1982 through the cooperation of the club's membership and its president, Marguerite E. Miller, and Ann Bowers, Curator of Manuscripts for the CAC. Literary and property rights have been dedicated to the public and duplication is permitted for the purposes of preservation and scholarly research. The register was prepared by Paulette Weiser, Graduate Assistant for the WSAP, in April 1982.
The Sandusky Coterie was organized by a group of women led by Mary Cooke on October 7, 1895. Originally the club was affiliated with Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church, but the affiliation was discontinued after the first several years of the club's existence. The group adopted their constitution in November 1895 and federated in 1901 with other Sandusky women's clubs, after having withdrawn from the state federation.
The stated objective of the Coterie is "intellectual and social culture." Their first motto was "Light; Still More Light" from Goethe. Officers of the Coterie included a President, Vice President, Secretary-Treasurer (divided into two separate positions in 1969), Critic and an Executive Committee. The Critic, appointed monthly by the President, reported on mispronounced and misused words in the members' presentations. The position of Critic was eliminated in 1959. A Second Vice President was added in 1898 and a Sunshine Committee also was added later to visit and send cards and plants or flowers to ailing members, those who had lost a family member, or the families of deceased club members. Memorials to deceased members often took the form of a book donation to the public library. Officers were elected in the Spring to take office at the first Fall meeting.
The first officers recorded were for 1896-1897 and included Mary A. Cooke, President; Ella C. Warner, Vice President; Jennie F. Peck, Secretary-Treasurer; Alice Ward, Critic, who was unable to serve and was replaced by Alice G. Adams; and the officers plus Clara J. Schumacher and Zenobia Stroud on the Executive Committee. Other charter members included Anna B. Harris, Emogene N. Marshall, Elizabeth Whitney, Margaret O'Neill, Ida May Reeves, Eyrie Hadley, Ada A. Hughes, Julia B. West, Jane Bixby, Emily Hicks, Dora S. Reeves, Carrie Hubbard, Alice Hubbard, Henrietta Weis, and Myra Hollinger.
The Coterie met weekly from September or October through May on Monday afternoons until October 1922, when they began meeting every two weeks. Originally the program consisted of a business meeting, four 15-minute assigned papers given by members, and refreshments. Later the papers given were reduced to two per meeting plus a topical response to roll call. Presently, the program is usually a book review or a guest speaker or a tour of a variety of facilities from a school cafeteria to Oberlin College. Special social meetings also were held during the holidays, in the summer, and for Guest Day.
A forty-member limit was set in May 1897, reduced to 15 in November 1935, then raised to 24 in September 1959. Membership requires an application, endorsement by a current member, and a vote of all members. Dues were twenty-five cents a year at first, then were raised to $1.00 in October 1945 and to $2.00 in September 1959. Fines were levied for unexcused absences and neglecting assigned presentations. Special Assessments currently are made for special projects or when the treasury is low. Associate membership is allowed for members who move away or are too ill to attend regularly, for whom dues are half the cost of regular membership. Honorary membership was created in April 1938 to honor members of long-standing, the first so named being Anna Sutton and Mabel Graves.
The Sandusky Coterie still is functioning, although membership has declined and consists mainly of long-time members.
The minutes of the Sandusky Coterie from 1897 to 1975 include not only notes on meeting activities, but also the constitution and bylaws, membership lists, and treasury records until a separate treasurer's position was created in 1969. The minutes consist of notes on dates and locations of meetings, numbers of members and guests present, titles of presentations given and who gave them, business meeting action such as motions and treasurer's report, new members voted upon, announcements of special sewing, cooking, and lecture courses generally offered or sponsored by the Sandusky Federation, parliamentary drills, charitable donations, and social activities.
The topics covered by the presentations include literary works and writers; reports on various countries, states and cities and their history, industry, education, political systems, people, life style, literature, art and architecture; economics; scientific innovations; politics; religion and the Bible; history and historical figures; current events; agriculture and industry; military and defense during World War II; Negroes; American Indians; and an emphasis on current elections and election issues in the 1920s when women were first granted the vote. The treasurer's records include the money taken in through dues, fines and special assessments, and expenditures on federation dues, postage, plants and flowers, cards, supplies for the officers, program printing, and the cost of coal to heat whatever church in which they met early in the club's history.
There are gaps in the minutes, particularly in the years prior to 1921, which partially are filled by the program booklets which date from 1897 to 1982. Gaps also exist in the programs' sequence, but between the two record series only eight years are lacking any documentation. The programs include meeting dates, hostesses, presentation topics and presenters, and the names of officers and members.
The one piece of correspondence from 1898 relates to the publishing of a state federation magazine with a club directory and requests the Coterie's calendar and one of their papers for publication. Also included is a volume with hand-written copies of some of the papers given, a very brief history of the Coterie's organization and early years, and notes by member Marie Harris on the annual topics through 1962. A stock certificate from the Sandusky Area Sesquicentennial in 1968, purchased by the Coterie to assist in fund raising for the celebration, is the final item included in the collection.
Contains constitution and bylaws, notes on meeting dates and locations, members present, presentations given, treasurer's records, membership lists, and social activities.
CONSTITUTION AND BYLAWS
Contains Coterie's objectives, officers, meeting times, dues and fines, membership limitations and procedures, and election procedures.
10 November 1898.
Contains letter from state federation regarding Coterie's calendar for 1898-1899 and a paper to publish in the federation's magazine.
PAPERS, HISTORY, AND TOPICS NOTES VOLUME
Contains handwritten copies of several papers given at meetings, a brief history of the group's organization and early years, and notes on annual topics, written by member Marie Harris.
Contains meeting dates, hostesses, topics and presentations to be given, presenters, officers, and members.
Contains stock certificate for Sandusky Area Sesquicentennial.
- Minute book, October 12, 1896-April 3, 1899
- Minute book (brittle condition), January 6, 1902-March 28, 1904
- Minute book, October 13, 1913-March 27, 1916
- Minute book, October 3, 1921-May 9, 1938
- Minute book, October 3, 1938-September 14, 1949
- Minute book, October 3, 1949-September 1, 1954
- Minute book, September 14, 1959-May 24, 1965
- Minute book, September 27, 1965-June 9, 1975
- Constitution and bylaws, September 1959
- Incoming correspondence, November 10, 1898
- Volume of papers, history, and notes on annual topics, ca. 1897-1962
- Brief history (one page), n.d.
- Program booklets, 1897/1898, 1901/1902, 1903-1908, 1909/1910
- Program booklets, 1910-1912, 1913-1915, 1916-1917, 1920-1923, 1924-1930
- Program booklets, 1930-1941, 1946-1950
- Program booklets, 1951-1960
- Program booklets, 1960-1970
- Program booklets, 1970-1982
- Sandusky Area Sesquicentennial Stock Certificate, 1968
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