Society of Women Journalists, 1894 - 1914
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History of the Society of Woman Journalists (SWJ)
The SWJ was formed in the spring of 1894 by J. S. Wood, editor and publisher of The Gentlewoman. Charlotte Humphry, who wrote under the pen name “Madge” for Truth, was the first president, and Mary Frances Billington, Mrs. Talbot Coke, Lady Colin Campbell, Mrs. Frank Leslie, and Mrs. Arthur Stannard were among the first Vice Presidents. Founded at a time when most press clubs and organizations either excluded women or admitted them only grudgingly, the SWJ offered considerable benefits to members. In addition to space to work, the organization provided a literary advisor to read manuscripts, a lawyer to help negotiate contracts, and numerous networking opportunities through its regular teas, president’s receptions, and lecture series. Though membership fell considerably during World War I, as paper shortages prompted periodicals to furlough staff, by 1945 the organization had rebounded. In 1951, the organization changed its name to the Society of Women Writers and Journalists to reflect its expanding scope. It continues to support women writers today.
About this Project
This site is a research database of membership in the Society of Women Journalists between 1894 and 1914. It is a searchable, free online resource that currently offers the ability to:
This project was created in order to:
Membership lists are drawn from the SWJ Annual Reports published between 1898 and 1915. Incomplete runs of the Annual Reports can be found at the British Library, the Bodleian Library, the New York Public Library, and the Toronto Public Library. I have not been able to locate Annual Reports for the first four years of the organization’s existence or for its twentieth year, 1913-1914. I draw on contemporary reports in The Journalist about the formation of the SWJ to reconstitute a membership list for its first year, 1894-1895.
The database and website were created by a team of faculty and students at the University of Dayton. The project facilitates student and faculty research on women writers from the turn of the twentieth century and on web development.
This project was funded by a Liberal Arts Scholarship Catalyst Grant (2021) and a Dean’s Summer Fellowship (2021), both awarded by the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Dayton. A special thank you to Dr. Phu Phung for generously sharing his time and expertise in the web development of this project. This project was inspired by Troy Bassett’s database of nineteenth-century British fiction, At the Circulating Library, and by Andrea Stewart’s research on women writers’ networks during the long nineteenth century.
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Copyright © Laura Vorachek 2023