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Historical Note

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Title:Faculty Wives records
Dates: n.d., 1941-1971
Call Number:A05

Historical Note

The Northeastern University Faculty Wives was a social organization formed in 1941 by and for the wives of the University's faculty.  It spanned thirty years until its disbandment in 1970, and in that time it functioned largely as a means for faculty wives to socialize and plan events for the Northeastern family. Etta Ell, the wife of Northeastern University's second president, Carl Ell, conceived of the idea of forming an organization dedicated to promoting more social contact among the wives of a rapidly expanding faculty.  In 1941, after several preliminary meetings, the Northeastern University Faculty Wives held their first official meeting.

Among the organization's founders was its first group of officers who served from 1941 to 1943.  Mrs. Carl Ell was elected president; Mrs. Everett A. Churchill, vice president; Mrs. Charles H. Sampson, recording secretary; and Mrs. John Pugsley was elected treasurer.

The Northeastern Faculty Wives' Club (the organization's name until February 14, 1947) drew up its first set of by-laws on October 31, 1941.  The by-laws stated that the "object of this club shall be to promote acquaintance and sociability among its members and to further the interests of Northeastern University" (From the 1942 By-Laws -- Article I, Section 2 found in Box 1, Folder 29).  The founding members determined that the club would be open to the wives of all faculty members.  Meetings were planned for the second Friday of each month from October to May.  Annual elections would be held in April of each year.  Each officer could serve no more than two years on the slate, and the wife of the University president was an honorary member of the organization.

Early in the club's history, seven committees were organized as a means of accomplishing activities and goals:  Hospitality, Membership, Nominating, Program, Publicity, Scholarship, and Ways and Means.  The members of the committees, along with the larger membership of the club, worked together to plan several large events for each school year.  The group usually sponsored a back-to-school celebration, a holiday fund-raising party, and a spring luncheon.

Money received from fund-raising activities was used for three purposes.  A small portion was deposited into the club's bank account for future events and meetings.  The second portion was allotted for donations made to Northeastern University for various building funds and campus improvement activities.  The last portion was earmarked for a scholarship fund for young women.  Each year, the members of the organization selected several recipients for the award, and much of the fund-raising activity was directed towards the goal of building this fund.

In 1965, the organization conducted a survey of similar organizations associated with other universities in the Boston area.  The Faculty Wives hoped to learn what other groups did, how their membership numbers compared with those of other organizations, and how other groups were perceived within the universities they represented.  The survey's findings were discussed and written up as a formal report.

At the time of the survey, the organization's membership was declining.  Despite this, the club remained in existence for another five years.  In September 1970, the club disbanded.  At that time, it was proposed that interested members continue to meet on an informal social basis away from the Northeastern campus.