The Rise & Demise of the Fort Worth Council
of Jewish Women
Texas A&M University Press.
Hardback with twenty-four archival photographs and illustrations.
Published April, 2008; available at Borders, Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com.
Why would a service club with a large membership, a comfortable bank balance, and a century-old history disband? The Jewish “Junior League” answers the riddle as it tracks the evolution of American women’s clubs from their 19th-century origins as cutting-edge institutions to their latter-day image as staid groups with plummeting rosters and members caught in a time warp.
Using as a case study the rise and dissolution of the Fort Worth section of the National Council of Jewish Women, this volume examines the evolution from vanguard to rearguard of many American voluntary institutions. It also explores issues and themes in 20th-century women’s history and American ethnic history.
From its founding in 1901, the Fort Worth Council of Jewish Women fostered integration of its members into the social and cultural fabric of the broader community. It championed social causes such as an Americanization school for immigrants and day care centers for children of working women. The Fort Worth Council was so successful that it prepared the way for its own obsolescence. During the 1980s and 1990s, the ripple effects of the Civil Rights movement found Council members breaking the glass ceiling, assuming paid positions in the business and nonprofit worlds, and leaving women’s clubs behind.
To research this lively, provocative volume, Hollace Weiner has mined the records of the National Council of Jewish Women at the local and national level, interviewed surviving members, and examined ethnic newspapers, such as the American Jewess and the Texas Jewish Post. The history of this one organization mirrors larger social changes across United States.
Book Fair photos, Fort Worth Star-Telegram Photograph Coll., Special Collections, The University of Texas at Arlington Library.