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Women's Department

[Record group 232-4-11]
Agency Function

Agency History
Formed in the fall of 1925, the Women's Department performed a variety of functions in the Sesqui-Centennial. Its chief duty was to provide hospitality to exposition visitors. On a regular, ongoing basis, the department looked after the comfort of visitors, conducted a room registry, produced and distributed publicity, set up information booths throughout the city, and organized guided tours of historical sites. More generally speaking, the department fostered an appreciation of women's roles in American society by promoting exhibits and observances focusing on women's issues, hosting receptions in connection with special days, and recruiting volunteers from women's organizations to staff these activities. The most well known project was "High Street of 1776," a replicated version of Philadelphia's early Market Street prepared under the direction of the Women's Department on the exposition grounds. Although the emphasis of the High Street display was on the historical and architectural character of the city on the eve of independence, the reconstruction also contained exhibits focusing on twentieth-century topics such as voting which was depicted in a display produced by the League of Women Voters.

The Women's Department included a board of officers and an administrator. The Women's Board was made up mainly of women from the Delaware Valley and chaired by Mrs. J. Willis Martin. Mrs. Martin had a broad background in organizational and social welfare work as a founder of the Garden Club of America, founder and first vice-president of Emergency Aid of Pennsylvania, member of the advisory council of the Philadelphia Trade School for Girls, president of the Emergency Aid Realty Corporation, vice-chairman of the Women's Advisory Council, Department of Health, and as a former member of the State Welfare Commission and Council of Defense. Other board officers included Mrs. Edward W. Biddle, vice chair; Mrs. J. Gardner Cassatt, corresponding secretary; Mrs. Graham Dougherty, treasurer; Mrs. Stanley Flagg, foreign participation; Mrs. Wilmer J. Krusen, receiving secretary; and Gertrude H. Leidy, executive secretary. The director of the department was Mrs. Elmer E. Melick.

Archival Records
232-4-11.1 Correspondence and Files (1925-1926)

232-4-11.2 Printed Literature (1925-1926)

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Last updated on November 8, 2000