More than a century ago, in the midst of World War I, courageous women came together and established Women’s City Club of New York.

The founders had a great purpose in mind: “to consider various political problems…and to offer practical methods by which women may initiate, support, or oppose municipal movements.”

They wasted no time in tackling complex problems, such as abuse of women in sweatshops, intolerable tenement living conditions and the failures of our free society to provide equal opportunities for all.

Many outstanding women joined the organization. Early members included Frances Perkins, a New York City labor leader and later the first female cabinet member as FDR’s Secretary of Labor; Ida Tarbell, legendary muckraking journalist; Alice Duer Miller, a novelist and screenwriter and WCC’s first president; and Virginia Gildersleeve, World War II WAVES commander and dean of Barnard College.

Other WCC activists included Eleanor Roosevelt, then first lady of New York State, who was WCC’s legislative director; Dorothy Schiff, president and publisher of the New York Post; celebrated actress Helen Hayes; and nurse-midwife Ruth Watson Lubic, founder of the National Association of Childbearing Centers and winner of a 1993 MacArthur “genius grant.”

Today, we remain dedicated to the vision and commitment of our first members nearly 100 years ago. Every day, we continue to promote civic engagement, activism and leadership to remove the public policy barriers that limit opportunities for New Yorkers.