St. Petersburg Woman’s Club began because Mrs. Benjamin A. Greene moved here from Evanston, Illinois, where she served as president of her Federated Woman’s Club. She missed the wide intellectual and cultural interests, its civic participation and charitable concerns, as well as her club’s social events. She was rebuffed in her attempt to start a woman’s club here since most people thought the Women’s Town Improvement Association, engaged in establishing Williams Park and the Audubon Club, were enough for this small city (US Census of 1910 - population 4127). Nancy Greene then gave a series of lectures on Mormonism. At the conclusion she was urged to provide more similar intellectual entertainment. It was then that Mrs. Greene started St. Petersburg Woman’s Club with 14 chartered members. The date was February 7, 1913.
From minutes of the first meeting, “The object of the club is to instruct, to entertain and to follow along the lines prescribed by the General Federation of Women’s Clubs and shall meet every Thursday afternoon at three o’clock at the First Baptist Church. One dollar dues shall be required of all members excepting local ministers’ wives, who shall be honorary members.”
Officers were elected with Mrs. Greene as president. The first study was reading and discussing the book, “Spirit of Youth in the Street”, by Jane Addams. From the start, music was part of every meeting. Minutes of February 13, 1913 – “ a general discussion of the future work of the club then followed; Mrs. Greene desiring a note to be made to help the Sunshine City by giving recreation and entertainment to the employed female help; a hall where they may have their own friends and amusements was suggested.” At the next meeting, a gavel especially made of orangewood was presented. In April, on the 10th, “the president explained to us the advantages to us in joining the State Federation” and on April 22, the constitution and by-laws were accepted. The club joined Florida Federation of Women’s Clubs in 1913.
Throughout 1913 club programs were on women’s suffrage, state laws in regard to women and children (since only 15 states gave parents equal rights to their children), immigration and its effect on the country, social welfare, lives of famous women, child labor, the Pope and the Vatican, travel talks by members and famous guests, legislation about public health, parenthood, aiding more traveling libraries for use in the state. They worked with other clubs in the city “to determine what sanitary requirements shall be demanded of the bakeries” and visited them and reported.
In November 1913, it was announced 5 of 9 bills urged by the women had been passed by the State Legislature. From the start, the club tithed, giving one-tenth of its income to civic and charitable causes. At the meeting of December 18, 1913 called “Housekeeper’s Day”, the discussion was on iceboxes, handling milk after delivery, danger of flies, typhoid vaccination, domestic science courses in college.
What a busy and momentous year they had! They even battled the city about turning off the gas/ curtailing service to homes and fought to stop spitting on the sidewalks. The first anniversary luncheon on February 5, 1914 had 75 members present. The address was on “Civil Service Reform”. They planned for study to be on the Seminole Indians and Parliamentary Laws. There was continuous Bible study.