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Dayhoff: A scholarship for Year of the Woman, a club with a formidable history

In January, the Westminster Gilbert commission established a multimedia scholarship contest for the City of Westminster’s celebration of the Year of the Woman in honor of the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment. The 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, was ratified on Aug. 18, 1920 after a long struggle known as the women’s suffrage movement.

On May 3, our Time Flies discussion centered on the Westminster Year of the Woman commission spearheaded by Westminster Councilwoman Ann Gilbert and the leadership of the Westminster Family Center and the Recreation and Parks Department of the City of Westminster.

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It was in late February–early March that the commission initially announced a multimedia scholarship contest for the City of Westminster’s celebration of the Year of the Woman. Soon after that, the scholarship contest, and much of our daily lives, were overtaken by the coronavirus pandemic.

In March, the Westminster Year of the Woman Commission announced a multi-media scholarship contest for the City of Westminster’s celebration of the Year of the Woman. Contestants are to prepare an essay or presentation on a woman who has made a difference in the community.
In March, the Westminster Year of the Woman Commission announced a multi-media scholarship contest for the City of Westminster’s celebration of the Year of the Woman. Contestants are to prepare an essay or presentation on a woman who has made a difference in the community. (Westminster Recreation and Parks Department.)

Although the commission has received some essays, it was recently decided to extend the submission deadline until June 1. According to the contest guidelines, the commission would like for applicants to prepare a multimedia presentation or an essay of 500 words or less, about a woman that has had a positive impact. Subject matters could include but are not limited to historical or public figures or a woman you know personally. The contest is open to college students or Carroll County school students, whether they are in public or private schools or being home-schooled.

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Submissions are due by the end of the business day on June 1. Please email your submission to westminsterrec@westgove.com. The subject line must read: YOW SCHOLARSHIP CONTEST. Please include your name and contact information in the body of the email. The prize to be awarded is $500. The commission was quick to add that this is donated money and not taxpayer money. For more information go to: www.westminstermd.gov/489/Year-of-the-Woman.

Meanwhile, speaking of the Year of the Woman, and women who have made a profound impact, my good friend and overseas traveling colleague, Lynn Wheeler, wrote an article on April 6, in the Carroll County Times, “During Year of the Woman, remember key role played by General Federation of Women’s Clubs.”

Wheeler served for many years as the Carroll County Public Library executive director and is currently a board member of the GFWC Woman’s Club of Westminster and the Historical Society of Carroll County (and a force of nature all by herself.) Over the years I have also written about the Woman’s Club of Westminster a number of times and a portion of this article has been published before.

The Woman’s Club of Westminster has been a formidable force that has been visiting the Mayor and Common Council for about 110 years. Over the last century, the Woman’s Club has tackled such issues as a canon, typhoid fever, consumption, the minimum wage, cholera, women’s suffrage, the practical and domestic way of raising chickens, a new Westminster High School, trees, parks, flies, and fly swatters.

It was on Monday, January 18, 1911, Mrs. Pearre Wantz used the telephone to call the first meeting of the “Woman’s Literary Club.” (Telephone service had come to Westminster July 12, 1884. The first office was in the Wantz Building on East Main Street.) The club dues were 25 cents.

Locally, it was in 1912 that the club became active in civic affairs with their “Fly Crusade.” Their studies had taught them about the negative health effect of flies, including typhoid fever, consumption, and cholera infantum. They first enlisted the support of the Westminster Mayor and Common Council.

In 1913, the club became “The Woman’s Club of Westminster.” In those first 10 years, the concerns of the Woman’s Club continued to expand to far beyond literature — and flies. Their initiatives included many matters still important today such as local artistic development, preserving history, education, recreation, voter registration, mothers with dependent children, compulsory education, tree planting, preservation of roadside trees (made into state law in 1918,) and the Instructive Visiting Nurses Association.

The club has stayed one step ahead in what matters best for the community. For example, in a quote from a 1915 writing, “In our ideal Westminster the telephone and the telegraph wires will be buried underground; likewise the sewers … In conclusion we are a city set upon a hill, which cannot be hid and many pass this way.” The wastewater system finally first came to Westminster in the mid-1930s.

In 1928, a committee from the Woman’s Club asked the Mayor and Council to remove the cannon in the center of town at the forks of the road — Pennsylvania Avenue and West Main Street — and plant a Community Christmas tree. The tree was dedicated on Dec. 20, 1928.

In 1931, the Woman’s Club asked for a new Westminster High School. Progress was made in 1932 when the land was purchased. That school is what we now know as East Middle School.

Today the Woman’s Club is still involved in community dream keeping, taking books to school children on Dr. Seuss Day, maintaining the gardens in Belle Grove Square, helping with the tot lot on Center Street and countless other projects. During the past two months Woman’s Club has been helping to feed those in need.

Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster. His Time Flies column appears every Sunday. Email him at kevindayhoff@gmail.com.

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