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GFWC History

Overview

GFWC clubs and clubwomen are the heart of not only the Federation, but the communities in which they live and work. By Living the Volunteer Spirit, GFWC clubwomen transform lives each day, not simply with monetary donations, but with hands-on tangible projects that provide immediate impact. With a grassroots approach that often thinks locally but impacts globally, GFWC, its clubs and members remain committed to serving as a force for global good, as it has done since its formation.

With more than 60,000 members in affiliated clubs in every state, the District of Columbia, and more than a dozen countries, GFWC members work in their own communities to support the arts, preserve natural resources, advance education, promote healthy lifestyles, encourage civic involvement, and work toward world peace and understanding.

Mission

The General Federation of Women’s Clubs is an international women’s organization dedicated to community improvement by enhancing the lives of others through volunteer service.

GFWC is proud to work side-by-side with several dynamic and impactful organizations. Together, we work to improve our communities and better our world.

  • Canine Companions 

  • Heifer International 

  • Hope for Justice

  • Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY)

  • March of Dimes 

  • Operation Smile 

  • St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

  • Shot@Life

  • U.S. Fund For UNICEF

 

Our Story

Founded in 1890, GFWC’s roots can be traced back to 1868 when Jane Cunningham Croly, a professional journalist, attempted to attend a dinner at an all-male press club honoring British novelist Charles Dickens. Croly was denied admittance based upon her gender, and in response, formed a woman’s club—Sorosis. In celebration of Sorosis’ 21st anniversary in 1889, Jane Croly invited women’s clubs throughout the United States to pursue the cause of federation by attending a convention in New York City. On April 24, 1890, 63 clubs officially formed the General Federation of Women’s Clubs by ratifying the GFWC constitution.

Since 1890, GFWC’s impact has been felt throughout communities across the Unites States and the globe.

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GFWC Headquarters

It’s not just an office, it’s a home.

GFWC Headquarters is a National Historic Landmark located at 1734 N Street, NW in Washington D.C. The building became GFWC’s official headquarters in 1922, and its historic Victorian style has been maintained through generous contributions from members and friends. Headquarters serves as the working offices for the GFWC International President and staff, but it is so much more. It is also the home of the Women’s History and Resource Center, which collects, preserves, interprets, and promotes the history of the GFWC and women volunteers. Headquarters is the literal home to the GFWC International President during her two-year administration, with residences occupying 1734’s upper floors. Headquarters serves as host to events, such as the annual Women’s History Month event and Holiday Open House, and the property houses the popular Iron Gate Inn Restaurant.

Finally, as a National Historic Landmark, GFWC Headquarters is a snapshot in time. The beautifully decorated rooms, furniture, and historical collections are certainly worth a visit!

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