The Michigan Child Study Association (MCSA) was initially organized as the Child Conservation League (CCL) in 1920. CCL’s purpose was the furthering of the study of child care, family relationships, and child welfare. Early conference and council meetings were held in Lansing, Jackson, Grand Rapids, and Detroit, Michigan.
In 1922, the CCL withdrew from its parent organization, the Child Conservation League of America, due to the financial obligations imposed upon members. The CCL then became the Michigan Federation of Child Conservation Council.
In 1925 the organization became its own distinct, separate organization, the Michigan Child Study Association. The Association’s slogan was “That children may increase in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.” The traditions of a Fall Annual Convention, later called the Fall Conference, and a planned program of study, the Syllabus, were established in 1927 and 1928 respectively. In 1929, Mrs. Baldwin became the first MCSA representative to regularly attend the White House Conference on Children and Youth. The involvement of MCSA members with these White House conferences continued at least through 1960.
From 1920 through the 1960s the organization grew and prospered. The annual Spring Planning Meetings were established. MCSA also held joint sectional meetings with the University of Michigan Extension Division and the Parents/Teachers Association during the lean war years of 1943 and 1944. Membership grew from forty-four clubs in 1920 to 210 clubs with about 5,000 members by 1960. Many cities had multiple clubs. Traverse City, for example, at one time had at least twenty-three clubs.
The 1960s, however, was a tough decade for MCSA. Correspondence to the presidents and board members in the 1960s indicates that many women were beginning to work full-time and no longer had the spare time to be MCSA members. Other members who were full-time mothers could not afford to pay for babysitters as well as the required meals, hotel fees, and travel expenses for the annual conference. Declining membership caused additional problems. Older club members, now grandmothers, had different interests than new mothers. Late or lost mailings caused discontent and disorganization. As a result of these problems, many local clubs disbanded by the late 1960s.
In 1970, MCSA celebrated its Golden Anniversary. 340 members representing 93 clubs attended a special anniversary celebration. Past Presidents were honored by an anniversary tea hosted by Mrs. William G. Milliken at the Governor’s mansion. Several histories of MCSA were written at that time. Membership continued to decline despite efforts to increase it. By 1974 there were 158 clubs with a total of 2,900 members.
During the 1980s MCSA celebrated its 60th Anniversary. Membership declined dramatically in this decade. By 1987 there were only sixty clubs and 1,200 members.
MCSA still exists, but in a greatly diminished state from what it once was. Its 2005 website states that its current purpose is to “associate together in a state organization local clubs interested in parent education and child nurture, by providing program materials, contact with leaders in the field of child study, assistance with problems, newsletter publications, research work, and an annual state convention of members to elect officers, formulate policies and transact business.” (This information is from the collection.)