Tuesday Club serves Bartlesville for over 100 years
Gingham checked party favors, embossed paper napkins and yellowed newspaper clippings tucked away in carefully preserved scrapbooks give the briefest glimpse into the lives of Bartlesville’s Tuesday Club women and their quest to better the community come what may.
These mementos of the past are an inspiration in the present for today’s Tuesday Club members who carry on the traditions of more than 100 years of service to the community. The club formed in 1904 remains true to its original purpose of “mutual helpfulness and the promotion of higher intellectual, social and moral conditions.”
Tuesday Club awards scholarships to nursing students and honors young artists. The club’s Change the World awards provide financial support to
local nonprofits and projects – often with an emphasis on helping low income groups and children.
The difference between Tuesday Club of decades past and Tuesday Club today is that much of the ladies’ work takes place behind the scenes.
“In the early days, Tuesday Club was the first, the only club, and then one of a very few ,” says President Alanna Davis Payton. “Today there are so many people and clubs doing good works in the community. We are trying to not compete, but to support what they are doing. What you have is a pretty dedicated core group of people who reach out with others to be even more effective.”
The club meets the first Tuesday of the month from September to May for informative programs, gracious teas, holiday parties and special events. Perhaps the most important part of these meetings is networking – a key element for Tuesday Club ladies through all the years.
Because all Tuesday Club members are active in numerous organizations throughout the community, everyone comes together to share what they are doing with various organizations and the needs they have discovered. Tuesday Club then finds ways to nurture and support more causes in the community – often those without a regular revenue stream, says Payton.
“Tuesday Club is a learning experience,” says Community Liaison Patty Phillips, also a past president. “Once you sit in the meetings and you hear people talk about what they are doing, you find out about so many opportunities. We are a resource waiting to be tapped.”
A perfect example of Tuesday Clubs ability to tap resources and support others is the group’s Change the World fund. Club members each month bring the change from their purses and cars and fill a jar for a cash award that is given to a worthy recipient. Among the many Change the World recipients are Martha’s Task, Mutual Girls Club, On the Rock Ministries and Garden of Eatin’.
“If we put our change together, we can change the world,” says Phillips.
Tuesday Club of 2013 has about 30 dedicated members on its roll book. Back in the day when Tuesday Club was the main women’s organization in town, there was a limited membership of 100 people and a waiting list to get involved, Payton says. The membership could be categorized as somewhat elite – cultured, high society women. They were also hard workers and a force with which to be reckoned.
Tuesday Club in 1908 led the effort to obtain a Carnegie Foundation Grant to pay for a library in Bartlesville. It took five years of what the state of Oklahoma categorized as “unflagging zeal,” but the ladies accomplished their goal and saw the first Bartlesville Public Library open in March 1913.
The group also promoted parks in Bartlesville resulting in the creation of beautiful downtown Johnstone Park in the early 1900s, which has been a center for recreation and social activities through the decades.
At times, the club’s efforts were literally life-saving.
“My favorite story is the flood in the 1920s when they went out to bring medicine to children in need,” Payton says. “They hiked up those skirts and went through the flood and got the cholera medicine to those who needed it.”
Phillips notes Tuesday Club began its work in Bartlesville years before statehood. For many years the organization was affiliated with Oklahoma Federation of Women’s Clubs.
The tradition of service has been handed down through the generations of Tuesday Club members as these leading ladies worked on through oil booms, the Great Depression, wars and social changes. For some of today’s members, Tuesday Club has been a family tradition. Payton’s mother is a past president of the club, and now the gavel has passed to her daughter some years later.
The scrapbooks of Tuesday Club records detail much of the history of Bartlesville, while the programs of today work to assure a positive present and future in the city.
As Phillips and Payton note, Tuesday Club through the years has always focused on “true friendship built on years of sharing and caring.” Here’s hoping the circle of friendship remains solid for another 100 years of helpful service to community.
Contact: Allana Davis Payton 918-440-8286