A Celebration of Women Writers

"Congresses In The Woman's Building" by Mary Kavanaugh Oldham Eagle (1854-1903) pp. 171-174.
From: Art and Handicraft in the Woman's Building of the World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893.
Edited by Maud Howe Elliott, 1854-1948.
Chicago and New York: Rand, McNally & Company, 1894.

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THE daily introduction of one or more distinguished women of this and other countries to the large and appreciative audiences which throng our Assembly Room is found to be one of the leading attractions of the Woman's Building.

This feature was inaugurated under a resolution passed by the Board of Lady Managers providing for a committee on Congresses to be held in the Woman's Building. Mrs. Potter Palmer appointed the following ladies to serve on this important committee: Mrs. James P. Eagle of Arkansas, chairman, Mrs. Helen M. Barker of South Dakota, Miss Laurette Lovell of Arizona, Miss Ellen M. Russell of Nevada, Mrs. Susan R. Ashley of Colorado, Mrs. L. M. N. Stevens of Maine, and Mrs. Lewis of Illinois. Before the committee was called together it lost two valued members, Mrs. Susan R. Ashley, who resigned from the Board on account of ill health, and Mrs. Lewis by decease. Mrs. John J. Bagley of Michigan and Mrs. L. Brace Shattuck of Illinois were appointed to fill the vacancies.

Owing to the nature of the work of this committee, which required an immense amount of correspondence, the most careful

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keeping of records of all engagements and partial engagements, the arrangement of dates to meet the convenience of the 300 and more women who are to appear on the programme during the Exposition, and the keeping up with the post office addresses of the busy throng, it was found almost impossible to divide the work by assigning certain duties to each member of the committee. At the first meeting of the committee resolutions were passed indicat-


ing the character of work desired, and instructing the chairman to proceed to fill up the programme by providing one or two gifted women to read papers or deliver addresses each day during the Exposition. When the nature of the subject permits, an opportunity for free discussion is afforded.

Every avocation, profession, department, or line of work, of whatsoever nature, that has enlisted the interest and activity of women will be offered an opportunity for presentation through their most distinguished advocates at some time during these six months of daily intellectual feasts for women.

It is a rare opportunity for persons visiting the Exposition to be brought in touch with many distinguished contemporary women of this and other countries, whose names are known throughout the civilized world, and who have consented to aid our work.

If in a different age and under other governments women have been suppressed, at the Columbian Exposition at least they are guaranteed the right of free speech under the most favorable circumstances. Such a dissemination of thought can not fail to broaden woman's sphere of usefulness and facilitate her advancement.

The golden opportunity for women has for some wise purpose been reserved to this good time, and is now placed in the hands of the women of our country, to crown the Columbian year. With united effort and singleness of purpose our Board has worked with the view of uplifting and benefiting all classes of women the world over. All the results of their labor they can not hope to see, but the children of to-day may behold it to-morrow. This department, providing for interchange of ideas and the close communion of thought, which always tends to overcome prejudice, and knit together the highest interests of humanity, will not be an unimportant factor when the grand result of the perfect whole is calculated.


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About This Edition

This chapter has been put on-line as part of the BUILD-A-BOOK Initiative at A Celebration of Women Writers through the work of volunteer Mary Mark Ockerbloom.