The NLAPW is the nation’s oldest organization for creative women, and was birthed in 1897 during a time when women had very few rights. When Charles Dickens was honored with a testimonial banquet at the NYC Press Club, women, many of them recognized journalists of the day, with invitation in hand, were denied admittance. There were 3 major women’s organizations formed as a result…one of them was the National League of American Pen Women.
Responding to the nation’s need for an organization that would include women of the press, the following journalists were instrumental in forming the National League of American Pen Women in 1897: • Marian Longfellow O’Donoghue (newspaperwoman and the niece of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow) • Margaret Sullivan Burke (the first woman admitted to the Press Gallery) • Anna Sanborn Hamilton (social editor of The Washington Post)
The association became The National League of American Pen Women in 1921 with thirty-five local branches in various states. First ladies have traditionally been awarded honorary membership and on occasion have actively participated in League functions. Eleanor Roosevelt, a prolific writer, was an enthusiastic Pen Woman during her tenure in the White House and beyond.
The original purpose of Pen Women was to bring together women journalists, authors, and illustrators for mutual benefits, and to do what they could to correct the evils they saw in society.
Though the League is not a political organization, the members could not resist being advocates for women’s rights, which peaked during the administration of President Woodrow Wilson. Anna Kelton Wiley, a Pen Woman from Chevy Chase, was arrested and jailed along with 98 other women as they invaded the White House grounds in an attempt to convince President Wilson of the need for Women’s Suffrage. This event was one of many that led to the passing of the 19th Amendment.
The League’s headquarters are located in the historic Pen Arts Building in the DuPont Circle area of Washington, D.C. More than a decade into its second century, 55,000 writers, artists and musicians have been proud to call themselves Pen Women. Among them are Pulitzer Prize winning poet Edna St. Vincent Millay; Clare Booth Luce, playwright, journalist and war correspondent for Life, Time and Fortune magazines and the first Pen Woman to become a member of the U.S. Congress; Vinnie Ream, who at 19, won the commission over the country’s leading sculptors of the day to portray a pensive President Abraham Lincoln which stands in the Capitol Rotunda. Other well-known Pen Women include: Margaret Mitchell, Eudora Welty, Grandma Moses, Dale Evans, Carrie Bond, and Pearl S. Buck.
Exciting national initiatives include juried arts competitions online, to expose the work of members and non-members on a broader scale. We are also offering monthly webinars to provide professional development and mentoring for aspiring artists in all classifications. Our strength is the longevity and expertise of our members, and provide mentoring services to younger artists wanting to grow in their ability to earn a living through their gifts. These online efforts are also a great way to expose members’ work to an unlimited virtual audience. Follow these links for more information:
The Atlanta Branch
In late 1930, a group of professional women with vision, diligence and creative ability met and organized an Atlanta Pen Women Club with the announced intention of becoming a full-fledged branch.
Mrs. Erskine R. Jarnigan, who as “Polly Peachtree” was the Society Editor for The Georgian newspaper and became the group’s organizing president. However, before the club achieved Branch status, Mrs. Jarnigan moved from Atlanta and the fledgling organization did not start up until the next year.
After meeting NLAPW President Grace Thompson Seton in California in 1931, Atlanta musician Bonita Crowe renewed the group’s enthusiasm for Pen Women affiliation. With the members of the original club as a nucleus, newly-recruited members, and Bonita Crowe as Charter President, the Atlanta Branch was accepted as an official branch of the National League of American Pen Women, Inc. on September 23, 1931.
Charter Members include:
Vinnie Ream Boyd Clare B. Jones Mildred Seydell
Mary Crabtree Mrs. Joseph Lamar Lida Wilson Turner
Bonita Crowe Jane M. Mattingly Cora O. Whitman
Cornelia Cunningham Minnie Hite Moody Ellen Wolff
Yolande Gwin Medora F. Perkerson Mozelle Horton Young
Atlanta Serves National Organization
In the more than seven decades since its founding, the Atlanta Branch has sustained the spirit of its charter members. In addition to providing a forum for continued artistic and professional growth, the Branch is proud to have had an Atlanta Pen Woman, Virginia T. Avery – daughter of founding member and past president Lida Wilson Turner – serve The National League of American Pen Women as its President from 1982-84. More recently, the Branch sent Harriet Fay Woodcock to Washington to head the national music program. Most recently, past president Candace Long has been serving on the National Executive Board as Vice-President of Development.
Pen Women Nature Garden
Years ago, one acre plots in the forest of Stone Mountain Park were made available to several different community organizations. Ann E. Lewis initiated the campaign that culminated in our organization being included in this program. Wanting to preserve the natural beauty of the area, the Atlanta Branch developed the Pen Women Nature Garden in 1961. In 2011, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of this green acre that has long nourished our creative spirits.
The nature garden is backed by the steep granite of Stone Mountain to the North, and bordered by a meandering creek on the South. A rustic footbridge leads to a trail of stones, each one honoring a current or former member of the Atlanta Branch of the National League of American Pen Women. Initially, thirty-three stones were placed, with additional dedications held every two years, bringing the current total to ninety-four stones.
The History of the Atlanta Branch is captured through Scrapbooks, “The Presidents Book”, and recorded Minutes, all of which are preserved in the archives of the Atlanta History Center, 130 West Paces Ferry Road, NW, Atlanta, GA 30305.
Columbus, Georgia Branch
The Columbus Branch of the National League of American Pen Women was organized June 4, 1957, at the home of Mrs. C. L. Mullin and her mother, Mrs. Ethelle Cox, a former member of the Birmingham, Alabama Branch. State President, Mrs. Walter Slaypen, conducted the opening ceremony.
The first convention of the Georgia State Association of the National League of American Pen Women was called to order at 11:00 am, September 14, 1985, at the Columbus Hilton Hotel in Columbus, Georgia by: State President Mollie Mealing. All three branches were represented: Atlanta Branch, Athens Branch and Columbus Branch.
The primary focus of the Columbus Branch is promoting art, music, and letters among high school students. Every Spring, we sponsor a contest in all three categories for area students. Professional judges are used. Winners are invited to a luncheon along with their respective teacher. Teachers are recognized and rewarded, and students receive a monetary donation as well as a Certificate of Achievement. The students, read their poems and short stories, perform their music, or tell about their art work.
|PAST GEORGIA STATE PRESIDENTS FROM COLUMBUS:|
|Ruth Lowery Kobs|
|Lucille Johnston Smith (2 terms)|
|Mollie Mealing (2 terms)|
|Dr. Jean Copland|
|Nell Turner Spettel|
|Diane Cox Osborne (2 terms)|
|Geri McGriff Davis|
|CONTACT FOR THE COLUMBUS BRANCH:|
|Diane Cox Osbornefirstname.lastname@example.org|