Manuscript Group 25
The early records of the Pleiades Club were given to the University of Idaho Library by the club in April 1967 (see club minute book), with subsequent deposits at later intervals. The most recent gift was received from Agnes Schuldt in June 1985. This descriptive inventory was prepared by Judith Nielsen, 1985.
In 1892 seven faculty wives met in the home of Mrs. Franklin Gault, wife of the university's first president, to form a book review club. President Gault joined them in the living room later, and when he learned they did not have a name he suggested "The Pleiades Club," comparing the seven ladies to the seven stars in the constellation. The group adopted its formal constitution in 1894 and joined the Idaho State Federation of Women's Clubs in 1895, as one of the first federated clubs, in the state. The first yearbook was printed in 1897.
The first project of the Pleiades was the "gold and silver book" which it had made for Idaho's exhibit at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Mrs. Gault suggested the idea, Miss Annette Bowman, a faculty member, designed the box, and the Gorham Company made the item from Idaho gold, silver, and semi-previous stones. The "book" rescued from the 1906 Administration Building fire, is now in the University Library.
Members of the Pleiades also helped to organize the Historical Club, and in 1901 these two clubs began to raise money for Moscow's public library. They started correspondence with The Carnegie Foundation and in 1904 were granted $10,000 toward the building. The library opened in 1906.
The club still maintains a membership of 15 or 16, and continues to meet in the homes of its members. For the first forty years Shakespeare plays formed a part of its program and roll call was answered with a Shakespearean quotation. Programs now include literature, music, and current events. The club continues its active participation in civic and charitable projects.
The records of the Pleiades Club span the years 1892 to 1976, with the bulk of the material from the years 1940 to 1970.
The material includes minute books, the club yearbooks which list the program for the year, reports on activities, newspaper clippings about the club and its members, and photographs of club members. Some Pleiades members attended state and district federation meetings and the yearbooks and programs of these groups form a separate series.
A note by Gertrude Axtell on an envelope which contained two minute books states that the first and second secretary's books were in the possession of Kathryn Truitt, and at the time of her death Mrs. Axtell and Mrs. Eldridge went to Jack McQuade for the books but were told they had been destroyed. A leather bound membership book given to the club by Belle Sweet on the occasion of the club's 50th anniversary was not among the items received by the library, although there are photographs of several pages of signatures of club members.
The minute books and yearbooks are arranged chronologically, while the material in folders is arranged by subject, then by date. The scrapbook which Mrs. Axtell started and which she mentions several times in her writings, was very fragile, the pages were torn out and many of the clippings were loose; therefore the scrapbook was disassembled and the material put into folders.
The minute books are for the most part handwritten minutes of the meetings of the club. The French Orphans folder contains some very interesting correspondence with a French family to whom the club sent food and clothing after World War II. The Gold and Silver Book folder contains correspondence with Tiffany's and Gorham in an attempt to get more information about the book; the Performing Arts Center folder outlines the club's plan to raise money for the center. The certificates include merit awards and community service awards.
No more than two copies of each yearbook were kept, the other were discarded: the yearbooks for 1977/78 and 1979/80 are missing. A copy of a booklet "Idaho Laws Concerning Women and Children" ca. 1920, was removed from the collection and will be added to the cataloged material in Special Collections.
I. Pleiades Club, 1892-1985
II. Other Women's Clubs, 1898-1969
Box Folder Description Items
1 1-6 Secretary's Minute Books, 1942-1984 6 7 Cash Book, 1943-1954 1 8 Constitution and by-laws, 1895-1970 7 9 Lists of members and officers, 1892-1977 8 10-11 History and accomplishments, 1925-1967 27 12 Anniversaries, 1944-1972 22 13 Gold and Silver Book, 1967-1968 7 14 French Orphan Material, 1946-1948 22 15 Performing Arts Center, 1965-1970 17 16 Moscow Public Library, n.d. 9 17 Correspondence from members, 1928-1973 8 18 Certificates, 1959-1966 12 19-21 Newspaper clippings, 1922-1975 47 22 Photographs, 1897-1976 30 23 Yearbooks, 1897/98-1984/85 163
24 Idaho Federation of Women's Clubs, Programs 1908-1969. 29 25 IFWC. Endowment and Scholarship Funds, 1937-1963 15 26 General Information on local women's clubs, 1898-1953. 18