How did members of the Thomasville Study Class use the club to define themselves and their community?
Harrison, Wendy Diane Jackson
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Women's study clubs began in the United States with the arrival of the Puritans in the seventeenth century. Puritan Anne Hutchinson has been called the first clubwoman. When she began meeting with other women in her home to discuss issues of religion, she outraged men in her community. She was the first in a long line of brave, thoughtful women who in collaboration with other women created formal organizations through which they could improve themselves and their communities. These women used the skills they developed in their homes to push beyond the borders of patriarchy. By exercising municipal housekeeping these women found that not only could they speak in private, but they could use their public voices to make their communities better places to live. The Study Class of Thomasville was one of these clubs, as this study explains. Through their fifty-three year history, which encompassed some of the nation's most turbulent years, the women of the Study Class found spaces in their city where patriarchy didn't exist. They used these spaces to find other spaces, and managed to create lasting monuments to their resistance, such as a library, a hospital, a school, and parks. They enacted reforms that helped children and poor people, while at the same time making Thomasville a cleaner more beautiful place to live. Additionally, the women of the Study Class used their literacy practices to nurture and support each other.