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CLEVELAND SOROSIS

The CLEVELAND SOROSIS, organized in May 1891 with 17 members, focused on women's growing sense of power to change themselves, their condition, and society. The group grew out of the Western Reserve Club of Cleveland (est. 1882) and was patterned after clubs in New York and California. Mrs. W. G. Rose served as the group's first president. The name was consciously chosen with a double meaning: first, a contraction of "sorority sisters," and second, a botanical term for a fruit (like a pineapple or fig) formed by the union of many flowers. Sorosis gathered literary, philanthropic, scientific, artistic, and social pursuits into one umbrella organization. Committees functioned like separate clubs, with their own officers, goals, and policies, alternately presenting their personal or social improvement programs to the general group. Members tended to be intellectual and socially prominent; by the late 1920s Sorosis annual dues had risen from 50 cents to $15. The society also required new members to pay an initiation fee. One Sorosis committee was the Women's Employment Society, which hired women to sew garments for sale. In 1885 this society sold 500 pairs of jeans and 300 gray flannel shirts destined for Indian reservations to the U.S. Dept. of the Interior. With similar enterprise, the Health Protective Assn. campaigned for better sanitation and designated children's play areas. Although the first Sorosis meeting featured a paper on suffrage, Sorosis groups generally shared the view that education should enhance women's familial tasks and shied away from accepting suffrage clubs. In 1902 the Cleveland Sorosis Society became part of the FED. OF WOMEN'S CLUBS OF GREATER CLEVELAND. The group sponsored self-improvement, cultural, and charitable activities into the 1970s. From 1917-54 Sorosis met in its own clubhouse at 2040 E. 100th St., donated by Phoebe Chipman.


Cleveland Sorosis Club Records, WRHS.