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Mothers' Club Leads the Way

Children's issues were deemed an appropriate arena for women: Washington Women started voting in school elections in 1890.

The Rainier Beach Women's Club began in 1908 as the "Mother's Club". In 1910 they established a public kindergarten at Emerson School. According to club records "The Board of Education supplied heat, light, and janitorial service; the Mothers and equipment, and paid the salary of a teacher. A small fee was charged each child, but underprivileged children were there at the expense of the Mothers."

Kindergartens allowed children to make friends, develop social skills, and learn through play. They also ave mothers a few child-free hours each week and they showed the women who organized them that they had the power to change the work in their own way.

By the 1930s the Emerson mothers had created a preschool as well.

Today Mothers' Clubs have evolved into PTAs, many of which still subsidize the salaries of kindergarten teachers.

This exhibit was created in 2009 in conjunction with Washington Sate History Society's Exhibit, "Women's Votes, Women's Voices". Rainier Valley Historical Society celebrates Rainier Valley's many women leaders and their varied avenues of public life and commitment to improving their communities and beyond.

Explore other articles in this exhibit:

  • Beyond the Laundry: Women Changing the World

  • Working for Change without the Vote

  • Marion Southard West


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