Niles History Center partners with library to host program about Women’s Clubs

Published 11:09 am Thursday, March 14, 2019

NILES — The Niles History Center and Niles District Library will co-host a program called, “Time Well Spent in Study and Pleasant Recreation: Women’s Clubs in Niles,” presented by archivist and local historian Suzanne Flandreau.

The event will take place at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 14, at the Niles District Library.

Using archival sources from the Niles History Center and Niles District Library, Flandreau will discuss how local women’s clubs reflected national issues for women throughout the 20th Century. Topics covered will include suffrage, education, political involvement and general social changes. A sample of photos and records will also be on display at the library during the program.

Flandreau intends to show just how active local women’s clubs were in the community.

“Women’s clubs are often considered to be frivolous, but in actuality the clubs very often worked for civic improvements and change,” Flandreau said. “They made a difference.”

Flandreau will highlight several local clubs, including the Ladies Reading Club, the Niles branch of the American Association of University Women and the Portage Prairie Home Economic Club, an organization for rural women dedicated to education and self-improvement.

Flandreau has a bachelor’s in history from Wellesley College, a master’s degree in library science from the University of Michigan, and a master’s in history from the University of Mississippi, where her thesis focused on women’s history.

She spent more than 30 years in archives and special collections, including 22 years as the head librarian and archivist at the Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College Chicago. Flandreau retired and moved to Niles in 2012. She keeps professionally active managing the grants program for the Association for Recorded Sound Collections.

In Niles, Flandreau serves on the board of the Friends of the Niles District Library and the Niles History Center, and volunteers at Ferry Street Resource Center, and at the Niles History Center.

The program is part of the spring local history series offered by the Niles District Library and Niles History Center. Admission is free, though donations will be accepted to help support the program.  The series continues on April 11 with “Powered by Water: Early Industry in Niles,” by Mollie Watson.

Those seeking more information can call the Niles District Library at (269) 683-8545 or the Niles History Center at (269) 845-4054.