THE formation of the Research Club in 1900 by men in charge of the various phases of scientific study in the University inspired some of the younger members of the teaching and research staff in the fall of 1902 to found a similar organization, the Junior Research Club. The women engaged in scientific research tried to persuade the officers of this new club to open its doors to them. Having met with refusal, they took counsel together and quickly formulated plans for an independent organization.
On the evening of October 27, while the Junior Research Club was holding its second meeting, eight women gathered in Room 2 University Hall and, after a brief discussion, organized the Women's Research Club and adopted a constitution. Their first regular meeting was held in November. Mrs. Lydia Maria DeWitt, who was Instructor in Histology from 1902 until 1910, was elected president, Maude Mary DeWitt and Frances Jewett Dunbar, advanced students in the Department of Zoology, were elected vice-president and treasurer, respectively, and Ellen Bottsford Bach, of the Department of Botany, secretary. Other members were May Wheeler, Rockefeller scholar in hygiene, Iva May Lichty, then engaged in anatomical research, and two advanced biological students, Jean Dawson and Clara Henriette Hasse.
The club was defined in its constitution Page 411as an association of women carrying on regular research in science, organized for the presentation and discussion of new and important facts and for the creation of a greater interest in original work.
The earnestness of the charter members and their serious determination to make the club an active and constructive factor in University life are reflected in the titles of reports presented that first year. Among these were "The Morphology of the Pyloric Glands," "The Chemistry of the Colon Bacillus," and "The Chemistry of the Typhoid Bacillus."
Such reports served to broaden the human interests and enlarge the horizon of the members of the group, as well as to remove the sense of isolation in a special field of investigation. For those who presented the papers there was also the stimulus which arose from discussion of their problems by a critical audience. Best of all was a realization on the part of all members that the pursuit of knowledge inevitably leads to broader contacts outside the scope of any particular problem.
The membership was increased to eleven in the first few months. At the close of the year two important decisions were made with regard to policy. Women engaged in nonscientific research were also made eligible for membership in May, 1903. At the same meeting the constitution was amended to provide the status of honorary membership for those who had formerly been active members but who had discontinued their research. Some years later an associate membership was created for predoctoral students in the Graduate School who had not started a research problem. At the present time the membership is limited to women actively engaged in research.
More than six hundred women have been members. Many of them have attained positions of distinction and responsibility; among them are college presidents and professors, experts in public-health work, and research workers in the great laboratories of the country. Their success has reflected great credit not only upon themselves but also upon the club and upon the University. Former members who have returned for occasional meetings have been an inspiration to the younger members.
In addition to fostering an interest in research among the women of the University the Women's Research Club has, with the help of a few small gifts, established and maintained a loan fund. Beginning with $60 in 1922, the fund has gradually increased to a sum of more than $750, from which fifteen loans have been made to graduate women.
In each of the six years 1921-22 through 1926-27 Jeanne Cady Solis ('92m), an active member of the club, offered a prize of $25 for the best published research in medicine or natural science done during the year by a woman student. The only women eligible for this prize were those enrolled in the Graduate School and at the same time members of the teaching staff and those who had formerly been connected with the University and had continued research on this campus within three years. The successful contestant was selected by a special committee. The press announcement of the winner was attentively awaited by the club members, who felt a direct, personal interest in the award.