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The Souvenir of Western Women/Women's Club Work in Idaho

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Woman's Club Work in Idaho


THE Woman's Columbia Club came into existence in 1892, when some of the women of Boise, Idaho, decided to furnish the Idaho building at the Columbia Exposition in Chicago in 1893. After this good work was completed these women decided that the club should continue and that its work should be (1) to establish and maintain a circulating library and free reading room; (2) to take up any line of work which shall be designed to promote the highest interests of the city.

The Woman's Christian Temperance Union of Boise had collected some books which they kindly turned over to the Woman's Columbia Club, and this formed the nucleus of the Boise library. Club members at first took turns in keeping the library open, but soon after Miss Ella C. Reed was chosen librarian. The city giving the necessary room, the library was placed in the city hall. Through the efforts of the club a traveling library was started, which has proved itself a power for good in the more remote parts of Idaho. In 1901 the members of the Columbia Club realizing that Boise should have a library building, determined to try to secure aid from Mr. Carnegie toward the erection of a building. A committee of three, composed of Mrs. Beatty, Mrs. Ridenbough and Mrs. Richards, was appointed by the club to take the matter in charge. To the untiring and continued effort of the committee is mainly due the results finally accomplished. They found that before securing any promises from Andrew Carnegie they would have to show on the part of the city a suitable site and a fund for annual maintenance. Accordingly after the necessary time had elapsed for advertising, voting and selling bonds, the sum of $4000 was available for the site, and a fine half block, centrally located, purchased from the city school board. Then the city council voted an annual maintenance fund of $2500 and created a board of five library trustees, three of whom were the members of the club committee in charge of the work. In response to a request. Mr. Carnegie donated the sum of $15,000. While we had hoped to receive $25,000, we were not discouraged, but went to work to raise at least $5000 in the city.

The club consented to continue its maintenance of the library, thus allowing most of the $2500 given yearly by the city to accumulate towards the building fund. Through the influence of a personal friend Mr. Carnegie gave to the library an additional $5000. The building is now under way, and will probably be ready for occupancy by the 1st of January, 1905. The club has thus gradually grown to its 'present proportions. It now has eleven departments of work, two hundred active members and twenty honorary members. It is a recognized power in the community. Although partially a literary club, its strength lies in its public work for the betterment of the city and the state. There has been space for only a brief

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mention of its most important achievements. Many lesser ones which may have had as great an influence for good must go unmentioned.

Eastern club women tell us that we are especially favored in receiving the aid and co-operation of state legislators and city officials in our efforts to improve prevailing usages and correct existing abuses. They hint that it is largely due to our possession of the ballot. But we prefer, and justly, to attribute this to the native courtesy and kindness of our western man. Be he governor, mayor, legislator or private citizen, he has always responded generously to our appeals, and on every occasion he has more than seconded any effort made by the club for useful reforms.