GLEN ELLYN – In 1906, Glen Ellyn women were allowed to vote for school board candidates for the first time.
With this knowledge, a group of local women picked their candidate and campaigned for him, eventually using the three cars in town to bring women voters to the polls on Election Day.
Through the women’s efforts, Charles Hudson was elected president of the Glen Ellyn School Board, and with him came better salaries for teachers and plans for new school buildings.
“They got their candidate elected because they wanted some improvement in the school,” said Carol Miller, Glen Ellyn Woman’s Club historian, treasurer and past president.
This group of women made up the Glen Ellyn Study Club, which formally became the Glen Ellyn Woman’s Club in 1912 after being founded 17 years earlier.
For 118 years, the Woman’s Club has been a part of Glen Ellyn. In addition to improving village schools, the group also founded the public library and still provides educational and social opportunities for residents, as well as philanthropic support for various local groups.
The club now has 51 members who meet once a month from September through May at the Glen Ellyn Civic Center. Members recently finished their club year with a luncheon May 14, where they elected new board members, including Mary Ann Zeitz as president.
Zeitz joined the club in 2006 following in the footsteps of her mother, who had joined about 10 years earlier. Like some of the other women who join, Zeitz was looking to meet more women in the area after retiring from a job in Chicago.
“Initially, it was because I wanted to get to know people in town,” Zeitz said. “Once I joined, I continued on because I really appreciate and enjoy the philanthropic efforts.”
The positive relationship and lack of conflict among club members have helped to keep the club standing for as long as it has, Zeitz said.
“They’re an outstanding group of women to get to know,” she said, adding that after her mother’s recent passing, several members attended the wake and sent cards.
During the club’s long legacy, members have been able to place their mark on the village.
The creation of the Glen Ellyn Public Library stemmed from the need of Study Club members to have books to research topics discussed at their meetings. Members raised money to start a library, eventually housing it in a room in Village Hall.
The Woman’s Club continues to contribute to the village through donations to several local non-profits, including the Glen Ellyn Food Pantry, People’s Resource Center and Glen Ellyn Historical Society.
Education remains an important focus of the club, which provides a scholarship to a graduating senior from Glenbard South and West high schools every year.
The Woman’s Club once was the main hub of social life in Glen Ellyn. Although the village has grown over the years, the club still hosts social and educational events, including luncheons, talks, teas and a silent auction.
The club continues to look for prospective members, and Miller, who has been a member for more than 30 years, said women should join for the opportunity to serve the Glen Ellyn community.
“Try us – you might like us,” Miller said.