PA State Archives Hours, Directions, & Fees Research Topics Online Catalog Land Records




Manuscript Group 481
11.5 cubic feet

The Pennsylvania Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs is one of the charter members of the National Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs, Inc., which was founded in 1919. Business and Professional Women's Clubs promote legislation and public policy issues of concern to working women and provide a variety of services and training to their members. In May 1918 the War Department invited two representatives from each state to meet in New York to plan for a national business women's committee. Lena Madison Phillips was elected as executive secretary of this group. Though the war ended, funding was nonetheless granted and in July 1919 the first National Convention was held in St. Louis, Missouri, where the National Federation was established. The new Federation sponsored the first national survey of business and professional women and their status, opportunities and qualifications. The Federation established scholarship funds in professional schools, was the first women's organization to present a legislative tax bill to congress, and began publishing the magazine Independent Women. BPW was influential in passing child labor laws and in 1928 established the first "National Women's Business Week." In 1937, the BPW endorsed passage of an equal rights amendment and during the Second World War supported the establishment of women's branches in the service. During the 1960s, BPW led the fight for the Equal Pay Act, and in the 1970s also fought passage of Title IX, equity in education and credit, prohibition of sexual harassment, and the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).

Currently comprised of over 70,000 members, the national organization has 3,000 local organizations operating in fifty-three state federations, including every state plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Over the past decade, it has been dedicated to economic empowerment, women's health, family and medical leave rights, pay equity, dependent care and insurance reform.

The National Federation of Business and Professional Womens Clubs' affiliate, the BPW Foundation, was founded in 1956 as a non-profit research and education organization and makes available, through the support of private and corporate donors, Career Advancement Scholarships for both academic and vocational study for women. Special loan funds have also been established for women students in engineering and business. The Foundation supports research on all aspects of women's workforce participation and maintains the Marguerite Rawalt Resource Center, a library of resource material. BPW/PAC is a political action committee which endorses candidates who support BPW's legislative platform, mission, and objectives.

These records of the Pennsylvania Federation include correspondence files, minutes, ca. 1988-1998; a 2001 Convention Program agenda; a 2001 program pamphlet; issues of The Key for September 2001, December 2001, and April 2002; a membership directory, 1988; and chapter histories on 16 rolls of 16mm microfilm negatives. A portion of the collection remains unprocessed as of October 2009.

PA State Archives Hours, Directions, & Fees Research Topics Online Catalog Land Records