University of Colorado Dames Club records
Scope and Contents
These records document the activities, meetings, clubs, financial and officer records of the University of Colorado Dames Club and corresponding members of the National Association of University Dames Club. The collection is organized into five parts, with two remaining notebooks (Scrapbooks) in Oversize. I. Financial Records include the bank statements from July 1, 1955 to April 28, 1960, as well as miscellaneous receipts from 1956 to 1971. Also included are the (check) record books from 1954 to 1971. II. Officer Records document the duties, correspondence and activities of board members. III. Alphabetical Files refers to the Dames Club newsletters, minutes, yearbooks, newspapers and questionnaires. Finally, IV. Oversize contains two notebooks (scrapbooks) from the years 1959 – 1961 and 1964 – 1968.
- 1940 - 1971
Biographical / Historical
In 1918, as the First World War came to a close, women formed a campus organization to meet the needs of wives and mothers of students. After World War I, many older men returned to the colleges as students. An increasing portion of the veterans brought wives; some even brought their mothers to the campus. While returning soldiers quickly became part of campus society, wives were isolated in the inter-war college environment. A new sort of club, sometimes known as the Dames Club, consisting of student wives, emerged on many campuses, serving to connect the otherwise separated wives and mothers of students. However, due to the varied ages and interests, many clubs found it necessary for the wives of the students and mothers of the students to organize as separate groups.
During the school year 1920-21, the wives’ groups of Chicago University and Iowa University started correspondence relative to the problems of these groups which extended to all universities. As a result, these two chapters, Chicago and Iowa, drafted a national constitution choosing the name, National Association of University Dames. The constitution was ratified the following year by the Chicago group as the Alpha chapter and by the Iowa group as the Beta Chapter. Eight other groups followed immediately, namely, Ohio State University, University of Michigan, University of Kansas, University of Minnesota, University of Illinois, University of Oklahoma, Washington State University, and Purdue University.
From that beginning many of the groups from other universities and the colleges joined the national organization either through solicitation or invitation. During the 1920s the National Organization consisted of fifteen chapters, located largely in the Midwest and Pacific Coast. Before World War II, twenty-two more chapters joined, extending into the Northeast and the Southwest while continuing to add chapters in the heartland.
With several groups organized at this point coming from a variety of universities and colleges a national organization was created and joined through either solicitation or invitation. During the 1920s the National Organization consisted of fifteen chapters, located largely in the Midwest and Pacific Coast. Before World War II, twenty-two more chapters joined, extending into the Northeast and the Southwest while continuing to add chapters in the heartland. One comparison people generated was that the early Dames Club was similar to a sorority for married women. To an extent the idea was to bring together women married to the soldiers as well as the soldiers’ mothers. With the difference in age these were further divided into two separate groups. Married women were now becoming a significant fraction of the campus community for the first time. The idea caught on and Dames Clubs were being proliferated across the United States. Over a period of nine years between the end of World War II and the end of the Korean War more than thirty new chapters were added and current chapters were becoming more established. The continuing draft and the GI Bill served the needs of the Dames Clubs by extending the cycle of draft, service, marriage, and college, and therefore maintaining the numbers of non-matriculating wives.
As the war began losing focus with the unpopularity of the Vietnam War after 1968, and the campus antipathy towards all things military, Dames Club lost popularity. With the end of the draft in 1973 is when a severe drop in the number of veteran’s spouses became apparent. Individualism, feminism, in addition to increased access to entertainment, corroded the need for the traditional campus meetings both on and off school grounds. Sororities, women’s clubs, social groups, and women’s honoraries all began to experience a decay in membership numbers if groups did not disappear all together. At the same time, new off campus political groups, social welfare organizations, local government and the new work arena began to claim more of the time and effort of non-matriculating spouses during the 1970s.
This led to the descent and lost interest in the Dames Club which eventually disappeared all together.
3 linear feet : 5 boxes + 2 Oversize
Language of Materials
A new sort of club, sometimes known as the Dames Club, consisting of student wives, emerged on campus, serving to connect the otherwise separated wives and mothers of students. Papers and records (1940 – 1971) document the organization and activities of the University of Colorado Dames Club, and the National Association of University Dames Club.
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Part of the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries, Rare and Distinctive Collections Repository
1720 Pleasant Street
Boulder Colorado 80503 United States