The Woman's Club of Claymont was founded in 1920 to promote social, cultural, intellectual, and civic pursuits by a group of homemakers looking for a closer alternate to the Wilmington New Century Club. The club adopted as its motto "Nihil Sine Labore" - "Nothing Without Labor." Founding members chose white and green as the Club colors, and several years later the narcissus was chosen as the Club flower. The 1965 club historian wrote regarding the choice of club flower, saying, "We doubt that the members in selecting a flower to represent the club, gave any thought at all to the handsome youth of Greek mythology who fell in love with himself when he saw his reflection in the fountain, rather we believe that they selected the narcissus because of its stateliness, purity, and unassuming beauty." After its founding, the Woman's Club of Claymont became part of the Delaware State Federation of Women's Clubs and, in 1924, the group applied for membership in the General Federation of Women's Clubs. The club maintained close religious ties to the Christian church, opening every meeting with a prayer and donating money to religious institutions.
Community service was central to the work of the Club. In its early years, members worked on various community improvements projects, such as those focused toward cleaning the railroad station, and erecting street and traffic lights and directional signs on the Philadelphia Pike. They took an interest in local education by preparing hot soup for school lunches, providing milk for the undernourished, beautifying the school grounds, and hosting an annual party for students at Woods Haven (Woodshaven) School for Girls. During the 1930s, they awarded prizes to seniors at the Claymont High School graduation, offered a series of adult education courses, and helped form the first Claymont Parent Teacher Association. They also supported community groups like the fire department and several Girl Scout troops. During World War II club members aided in the distribution of ration books, made surgical dressings, and sold over $20,000 in government bonds. After the war, the Club began sending care packages to Europe and later to Korea. In Delaware, members volunteered at the Governor Bacon Health Center, the Wilmington Senior Center, and the State Hospital in Smyrna.
In the 1960s, the Woman's Club of Claymont started participating in the Cancer Crusade, promoted the use of seat belts, sponsored a defensive driving course, and became concerned about the conservation of natural resources, among other things. They initiated an annual Community Prayer Breakfast during Lent, which continued to be observed for many years as a vital part of Lent in the Claymont area. In the 1970s, they actively supported poor families and disaster victims through programs like the Northeast Parish Emergency Fund and Operation Reindeer. They established the Ethel M. King Scholarships, in honor of a former club president, which were awarded until 1978 to graduates of Claymont High School who planned to further their education. The group sponsored several local Junior Miss pageants and participated in the Meals-On-Wheels program, delivering food to shut-ins. The Woman's Club of Claymont has also had a long-standing relationship with the Claymont Community Center, completely furnishing and decorating the Center's Baby Sitting Room in the 1970s. Members also participated in a tutoring program, volunteered in the Thrift Shop, and helped with food collection at the Community Center.
The Woman's Club of Claymont was also interested in the arts. For several years they sponsored a student to attend the Delaware State Music Camp. They also donated many paintings to the Claymont School District. In the 1950s they began holding an annual Christmas Bazaar, which featured the arts and crafts work of the members and became the Club's single most important fund-raising project.
During the presidency of Mrs. Frances A. H. Dutton from 1928 to 1930, two important projects began. Due to the lack of a public library in Claymont, the group received permission to turn the Old Stone School into a library, which was opened to the public in 1929 with approximately 600 books. The Woman's Club ran the library until 1945 when the school board acted favorably on the Club's library recommendation and created the Claymont Public Library and five library commissioners. In 1959, the Club volunteered to staff the library once a week so that it could be open twice during the week. Members also volunteered with the cataloging and mending of books, as well as soliciting donations for the library. The Woman's Club of Claymont was also responsible for the beautification of the library grounds through its Garden Group.
Dutton's presidency also saw the formation of the Junior Section of the Woman's Club of Claymont in 1930 for young women ranging in age from 18 - 35. Beginning with only 31 members in 1930, the group reached a membership of 66 by 1960. The Junior Woman's Club was also very involved in community service. In the Club's first years, they provided milk for the Claymont Kindergarten and raised money for Claymont Community Nursing Services. During the war years, they volunteered for the Red Cross, and in the post-war period they provided free dental care for needy Claymont students, opened a Well-Baby Clinic, and held community dances for teenagers. During the 1960s and 1970s, the group continued working on dental care and supporting the Well-Baby Clinic, as well as volunteering at the Claymont Community Center.
Over the years, the Woman's Club of Claymont met in several community locations, including a stay from 1928 to 1945 at the Old Stone School House in Claymont, but "ever since its beginning the members of the Club have dreamed of a home of their own." A building fund, begun in 1924, grew steadily over the years, eventually allowing the purchase of two lots on Green Street in 1956. In 1963 Mrs. Frances Dutton bequeathed a substantial amount of money to the Club for the new clubhouse. In 1964 they hired Mr. Warren R. Lewis to design the clubhouse and Mr. George Moreton was hired as contractor. Members organized a groundbreaking ceremony on November 11, 1964, and the new building was completed by August 24, 1965. The clubhouse at 3410 Green Street was opened and dedicated on October 17, 1965, and became the home to the 129-member club. The building and grounds cost about $40,000, and was partially funded by a $16,00 15-year mortgage. Six and half years later the women celebrated the burning of the mortgage in 1972, an event one club historian described as "a truly remarkable accomplishment!" Club membership peaked at 187 in the late 1970s, but due to the "large number of women working outside the home and the death of many loyal members," membership began to decline and the Club had to sell the house. The Woman's Club still meets regularly at the Bible Baptist Church on Darley Road and continues to provide community service to the Claymont area.
"Histories of the Woman's Club of Claymont," derived from the collection: Series V.1, F1.
"History of the Junior Woman's Club of Claymont," derived from the collection: Series VI.1, F15.
The Woman's Club of Claymont, Delaware, records consists of four linear feet of material, spanning the dates 1920-2002. Comprised of the constitution and bylaws, correspondence, membership directories, reports, newsletters, minutes, financial records, clubhouse plans and blueprints, committee reports and projects, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, histories, ephemera, awards, and material from other related groups, this archive details the social and civic life of this women's club.
The collection is divided into six series. Series I. consists of material that documents the organizational development and yearly operation of the Woman's Club of Claymont, including bylaws, correspondence, directories, reports, newsletters, and meeting minutes. Series II. contains items detailing the financial transactions of the group, while the materials in Series III. document the planning and building of the group's clubhouse. Series IV. contains information relating to the committees and projects of the Woman's Club of Claymont, as well as the group's entries in the General Federation of Women's Club's Community Improvement Project. Series V. records the history of the group, and also contains memorabilia such as scrapbooks, photographs, awards, and newspaper clippings. Finally, Series VI. provides material that concerns three additional groups that were closely related to the Club: the Junior Woman's Club of Claymont, the Delaware State Federation of Women's Clubs, and the General Federation of Women's Clubs.
Series I. Administration spans the years 1920-1992 and is divided into five subseries. The first subseries, Administrative (1924-1989), contains the constitution, bylaws, and correspondence of the Woman's Club of Claymont. While bylaws are present for most of the Club's history, correspondence is only available sporadically over the years and is an incomplete record of the Club's communications. The second subseries, Membership (1926-1989), contains the directories of the Club, as well as some lists of members. Bound Directories are available for the years 1959-1989, with several less formal directories available sporadically for the years 1926-1975. The last folder contains lists of members, many of which identify club officers and chairmen.
Reports (1926-1992), the third subseries, contains various reports written for the officers of the Woman's Club of Claymont. Each year the president of the Club wrote a report detailing the Club's activities for the year, which was sometimes called the Annual Report, and the collection includes a fairly thorough representation of these reports from 1943-1992. A few reports of the Secretary, Ways and Means, Budget Reserve Fund, Hospitality, and Membership chairs are also available, but these reports only sporadically cover a few years at a time. Also included are two reports written by Woman's Club of Claymont delegates to the Delaware State Federation of Women's Clubs Annual Convention in 1949 and 1952. The Woman's Club of Claymont began sending out monthly newsletters in 1960 as a way to inform members of important action taken at regular meetings, executive board meetings, and committee meetings, as well as any club or personal news. Subseries I.4., Newsletters (1960-1988), contains a full set of newsletters from 1960-1967 and 1980-1988, with additional sporadic holdings between 1967 and 1980. The final subseries, Meeting Minutes (1920-1992) contains the minutes from the General, Executive, and Board of Trustees Meetings. The minutes for the monthly General meetings and the monthly Executive Board meetings are available from the Club's founding in 1920 until 1970, and then from 1982-1992. Also included are minutes from the Board of Trustee meetings from 1964-1988, as well as two notebooks used by the secretary to take notes during the meetings from 1967-1977 and 1980-1982.
Series II. Financial (1920-1992) documents the financial transactions and decisions of the Woman's Club of Claymont in two subseries. The first subseries, Financial Reports (1927-1992), contains all of the reports on financial aspects of the Club that were submitted to the Executive Board and General Meeting. The most incomplete headings in this subseries are the auditor's reports and the profits from the annual bazaar. There are proposed annual budgets for most years from 1957 onwards, and the yearly financial workings of the Club are documented in one way or another from 1930-1992. There are monthly treasurer reports available for most years from 1950-1992. The second subseries, Financial Records (1920-1979), documents the income and spending of the Woman's Club of Claymont. Financial ledgers are available for most years between 1920-1974; some books overlap in years. The seventies are the most well documented period of the group's finances, with bank statements, canceled checks, bank deposit slips, and receipts available for the years 1973-1979.
The third series, The Clubhouse, dates from 1955-1990 and, in three subseries, documents the planning and building, financing, and running of the clubhouse. The first subseries (1955-1980) includes information about the purchase and zoning of the lot on Green Street, as well as official property surveys of the lot. There are also files on the designer and contractor for the clubhouse, Warren R. Lewis and George A. Moreton, respectively. Building Committee reports are available from 1962-1966 and correspondence relating to the clubhouse is also present. The second subseries, Clubhouse Finances (1956-1986), includes an extensive number of receipts and canceled checks for clubhouse expenses. There are also reports from the Building Fund dating from 1958-1986, as well as the Building Fund ledger from 1956-1964. This subseries also includes information about the mortgage and about two important bequests to the Woman's Club of Claymont from Frances Dutton and Ethel B. King, that helped to finance the construction of the clubhouse. The third and final subseries deals with running the clubhouse, especially in regards to large purchases the group made over the years. It also contains a thorough collection of rental contracts from 1969-1987.
The many activities of the Woman's Club of Claymont are documented in the fourth series, Committees and Projects, 1930-2000. Committees were an important part of club life and the first subseries includes the minutes, records, and lists of the various groups including Arts and Crafts, American Homes, and International. However, the Woman's Club of Claymont had many more committees than are represented in this subseries. Items of special interest include an Arts and Crafts booklet from 1988, Christmas Bazaars photographs from the early 1990s, and entries for the 1998 scholarship contest. The second subseries, Reports (1927-1999), contains the reports of various committees, which are grouped in folders loosely by topic. Some of these reports were written for the officers of the Club and others were written for the GFWC, but they in no way represent a complete collection of all of the committee reports written over the Club's history. The third subseries, Projects (1940-2000), is an incomplete record of the community projects of the Woman's Club of Claymont. It does contain information about the Club's beautification project of the Claymont Library in 1964, and the Club's long relationship with the Claymont Library. Other projects mentioned include Operation Reindeer, the Claymont Christmas Drive, and Meals on Wheels, as well as members' volunteer activities at the Claymont Community Center, the Delaware State Hospital, and the Women's Correctional Institution. The fourth subseries, Community Improvement Projects (1956-2000), holds the Club's entries in the General Federation of Women's Clubs annual contest. One entry dates from 1956-1958 when the contest was called the Community Achievement Project, with the remaining entries from 1970-2000 well documenting the Club's involvement in this project. Also included are guidelines for the contest from the GFWC from the late 1980s.
Series V., History and Memorabilia (1928-2002), documents the history of the Woman's Club of Claymont and is arranged in three subseries. There exists no published history of the organization, but various histories have been written throughout its existence, many of which are contained in this series. An article on "The Rise of Delaware's Women's Clubs" from 1969 mentions the Woman's Club of Claymont, as do several pages of newspaper clippings from the late 1920s, as well as numerous other clippings from the 1950s and 1960s. Three scrapbooks are available: one documenting the early years of the Club's history (F5), one documenting its community service in the late 1960s and early 1970s (F6), and one pertaining to the clubhouse (F7). The second subseries, Memorabilia (1945-1965), contains interesting items from the Club's history such as the clubhouse dedication program, books of poetry written by Delaware women, and the papers of Frances Dutton, Club president from 1928-1930. Awards and certificates that were presented to the Woman's Club of Claymont are available in the third subseries, Awards (1956-2002). However, there are no awards present for the first three and a half decades of the Club's existence.
The final series, Associated Groups (1930-1995), contains information about three groups closely related to the Woman's Club of Claymont. The first subseries documents the history and the organization of the Junior Woman's Club of Claymont from 1930-1980. The Junior section was founded in 1930, but the archives mostly detail its activities in the 1970s, through directories, correspondence records, attendance records, treasurer's reports, financial ledgers, budgets, newsletters, histories, and a handbook. The second and third subseries contain information sent to the Woman's Club of Claymont by the Delaware State Federation of Women's Clubs and the General Federation of Women's Clubs, respectively. The DSFWC subseries spans the years of 1950-1995, although the Woman's Club of Claymont has been a member since 1920. Similarly, though the Club became a member of the GFWC in 1924, this subseries only covers the years of 1965-1989.
Material will continue to be added to this collection as it becomes available from the Woman's Club of Claymont.