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Professional Women's League (Des Moines, Iowa)



The Professional Women's League was founded in Des Moines, Iowa by Dr. Lucy Busenbark Harbach in January 1900. An organizational meeting was held on January 1, 1900 in the office of Dr. Edith Gould Fosnes to which "seven or eight women responded." At the first official meeting, held on January 8, 1900, Rev. Mary A. Safford, minister of the First Unitarian Church of Des Moines, was elected president and the constitution and by-laws adopted.

The purpose of the League was "to contribute to the social and intellectual life of its members, and to promote a spirit of fellowship among women in the professions." In 1944 a second clause was added: "to work for the welfare of the city in all public activities and civic affairs, and to participate in community projects." Two final clauses were added in 1958: 1) "to enhance the role and further the welfare of professional women" and 2) "to participate in activities for the improvement of education, health, welfare, civic and community action, human relations, interest in government and world understanding." These goals were promoted by means of regularly organized social events; by monthly meetings at which programs on wide-ranging subjects were presented and debated, e.g., juvenile delinquency, civic government in Des Moines, world democracy, and advances in the various professions; and by activities such as the preparation of CARE food packages for shipment to European countries (favored during World War II).

Membership was by invitation only and care was taken not to allow any one profession to predominate. Initially limited to doctors, lawyers, and ministers, by 1927 the list of named professions had been expanded to include teachers, librarians, journalists, artists, and musicians. In 1944 the list of named professions was abandoned in favor of the following statement: "The membership of the League shall consist of professionally qualified women who are engaged in intellectual pursuits as a livelihood."

Membership initially was limited to twenty-five resident members. The League enjoyed its largest membership from the late 1920's to the early 1940's, reaching its highest membership, 59, in 1931.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Professional Women's League (Des Moines, Iowa) records

Identifier: IWA0110

Women's club founded in Des Moines in January 1900.

Dates: 1903-2000