Women of Valor

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Federation Gertie

Gertrude Weil, 1879 - 1971

Following her graduation from Smith, Weil hoped to become a kindergarten teacher, but her mother wanted her home. Bowing to Mina's arguments that she could be of as much service to people in need in a small Southern town as elsewhere, Weil returned to Goldsboro.

Weil immediately became involved with the new Goldsboro Woman's Club, established by her mother in 1899. Part of a growing nationwide movement of women's clubs, the Club educated its members in a variety of subjects, including home economics, health, literature and civics. Club members also worked to foster civic improvement through such projects as traveling libraries, constructing a town pavilion and strengthening relations between parents and local schools.

Clubwork offered Weil an outlet for her social reform impulses, and she threw herself into it with gusto. The committees she chaired were always lively and innovative, and within a few years, she became president of the Goldsboro Club. President again during World War I, she had members study the war's underlying political and social issues while organizing a giant vegetable garden to feed soldiers' families.

Sallie Southall Cotten, founder of the North Carolina Federation of Women's Clubs, quickly recognized Weil's talents. Witty, persuasive and modest, Weil was a popular speaker, and her zeal for clubwork and civic reform soon earned her the nickname "Federation Gertie." Over the years, she served the Federation in numerous capacities. Through her extensive involvement with the organization, Weil honed her leadership skills and gained an intimate knowledge of the political process, assets that would serve her well over her subsequent decades of reform work.

Notes: 
  1. Sarah Wilkerson-Freeman, "The Emerging Political Consciousness of Gertrude Weil: Education and Women's Clubs, 1897-1914," MA thesis, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1986, 52-58.
  2. Sarah Wilkerson-Freeman, "Women and the Transformation of American Politics: North Carolina, 1898-1940," Ph.D. dissertation, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1995, 28-44.
  3. Anne Firor Scott, "Gertrude Weil and her Times," unpublished paper delivered at "Women Working For Social Change: The Legacy of Gertrude Weil," Symposium presented by the Women's Studies Program, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, March 17, 1984, 9-10.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Women of Valor - Gertrude Weil - Federation Gertie." (Viewed on April 20, 2014) <http://jwa.org/womenofvalor/weil/federation-gertie>.