Wednesday, May 15, 2024

The Fortnightly Club of Chicago, for Women, was founded in 1873.

The Fortnightly Club of Chicago is a venerable and esteemed private women's club, founded in the year 1873 by Kate Newell Doggett (1828–1884) was an American botanist and suffragist, with the express purpose of providing a convivial and intellectually stimulating environment for women to engage in academic discussions, cultural enrichment, and community service. The club's nomenclature, "Fortnightly," is a nod to its original meeting schedule, which took place every fourteen days, or fortnightly, hence the name. It is the oldest women's association in Chicago. The club aims to enrich the intellectual and social lives of its members. In 1874, Doggett translated the French book The Grammar of Painting and Engraving into English.

Throughout its illustrious history, the club has been a bastion of intellectual and artistic pursuits, attracting a membership comprising some of Chicago's most accomplished, discerning, and philanthropically inclined women. The club's activities foster a sense of community, camaraderie, and cultural sophistication among its members, who gather regularly to engage in lively discussions, lectures, performances, and other events that showcase the city's rich cultural heritage.

Literary reviews and discussions are a hallmark of the club's programming, with members delving into the works of celebrated authors, poets, and playwrights, both past and present. Additionally, the club features lectures on various subjects, including art, history, science, and technology, delivered by experts in their respective fields. Musical performances, concerts, and recitals are also an integral part of the club's cultural offerings, showcasing the talents of local and international artists.

Philanthropy and community service are core components of the club's mission. Members actively support local arts organizations, educational initiatives, and social service projects that benefit the greater Chicago community. The club's commitment to giving back is reflected in its numerous charitable endeavors, impacting countless individuals and families throughout the city.

Membership in The Fortnightly Club of Chicago is by invitation only, extended to women who share the club's values, interests, and passion for lifelong learning. Members include professionals, artists, writers, and community leaders who are united by their desire to engage in stimulating conversations, expand their knowledge, and contribute to the betterment of society.

The club's clubhouse in the heart of Chicago is a warm and welcoming gathering place for members who share ideas, exchange perspectives, and forge lasting friendships. With its rich history, vibrant culture, and dedication to community service, The Fortnightly Club of Chicago remains a beloved and respected institution cherished by its members and the community at large.

Notable members Included Jane Addams, founder of Hull House and the first Juvenile Court in the nation; Bertha (Mrs. Potter) Palmer, society figure, art collector, and head of the Board of Lady Managers at the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893; and Dr. Sarah Hackett Stevenson, the first female member of the American Medical Association. 

The Fortnightly owns and meets in this stately landmarked Helen and Bryan Lathrop House at
120 E. Bellevue Place in Chicago's Gold Coast community.

The club's activities include:
  • Literary reviews and discussions
  • Lectures on art, history, and science
  • Musical performances and concerts
  • Philanthropic activities and community service
The Fortnightly Club of Chicago is very active today. Its focus is on fostering a sense of community and intellectual exploration among its members.

Membership is by invitation only and is extended to women who share the club's values and interests. Members include professionals, artists, writers, and community leaders.

The club meets regularly at its clubhouse in Chicago, with meetings often featuring guest speakers, performances, or discussions on topics of interest to members.

The club is involved in various philanthropic activities, including supporting local arts organizations, educational initiatives, and community service projects.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

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