Table of Contents

Overview of the Collection

Historical Information

Charter Members

Scope and Contents

Arrangement

Restrictions

Index Terms

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Administrative Information

Series Description

Series 1: Administrative documents

Series 2: Publications

Series 3: Scrapbooks

Contents List

 

 

Plainfield Public Library
The Laurel League
[1935 -- 1986]

laurel league logo

"He travels highest who lifts another up"

Finding aid prepared and encoded by Sarah Hull in March 2009.

Overview of the Collection
Repository: Plainfield Public Library, Local History Department, 800 Park Avenue, Plainfield, NJ 07060
Creator: The Laurel League
Title: Records of the Laurel League
Dates: 1935 to 1986 with gaps
Quantity:

2.5 linear feet of records
Comprised of 5 boxes:
Three (3) 2.5” x 10.5” x 12.5” document cases
One (1) 6” x 5” x 12.25” shoebox
One (1) 14.75” x 3” x 18.75” oversize box

Abstract: The Papers of the Laurel League of Plainfield document the creation and history of the League from 1935 to 1986 (with gaps).  The collection includes publications such as annual programs (yearbooks), newsletters, scholarship award and dinner programs, some financial records, and other administrative documents, both typed and handwritten.  The bulk of the collection was contained within six scrapbooks and consisted of a large series of newspaper clippings chronologically documenting the League from 1935 to 1975.  There is also one folder of Monday Afternoon Club membership programs (1976 to 1980) and an early, typed Constitution and By-laws (undated).
Language: The records are in English.

Historical Information

The Laurel League was created in October 1935 when Mrs. Laura Schmidt invited four friends - Alice Noonan, Gladys Duleskis, Helen David, and Anne Dodd - to her home to start a Catholic women’s club.  As the story goes, seven years earlier in 1928, Anne Dodd had moved into Plainfield and became a member of St. Mary’s Church. One day while waiting for her son to finish his Sunday school instruction, she met a lady, Mrs. Travis, who was also waiting for her children.  It turned out that Anne was the first Catholic Mrs. Travis had met in Plainfield, and that Anne did not know any others either.  Some time later, Mrs. Travis invited Anne to her home to meet a neighbor who was also Catholic.  That neighbor was Laura Schmidt.  One October afternoon in 1935, Anne held a tea for her non-Catholic friends, and invited Laura to join them.  During the tea, the ladies discussed their various works of charity, of which they had many.  When it came time to leave, Laura stayed behind and asked Anne the now famous question, “Are you not ashamed of yourself?”  Laura’s concern was that the non-Catholic women engaged in wonderful charitable works, while the Catholics seemed to do very little.  The two ladies discussed the issue for over an hour, and a week later Laura and four friends formed the first Catholic ladies club in Plainfield, NJ. 

They were:
Mrs. Fred Schmidt (Laura)
Mrs. George Noonan (Alice)
Mrs. Joseph Duleskis (Gladys)
Mrs. Archie Dowd (Helen)
Mrs. Gerald Dodd (Anne)

Two weeks later, Alice Noonan held the second meeting at her home, the attendees were:
Mrs. Fred Schmidt (Laura)
Mrs. George Noonan (Alice)
Mrs. Joseph Duleskis (Gladys)
Mrs. Archie Dowd (Helen)
Mrs. Gerald Dodd (Anne)
Mrs. George Brisbane (Francis)
Mrs. George Feaster (Anne R.)
Mrs. Charles Flynn
Mrs. John Jacobs (Luretta)
Mrs. Emerich Lamb (Margaret)

This group was considered the organizers of the club, with Mrs. Schmidt as its founder. After several more meetings were held, and more friends joined, a meeting was held at the home of Mrs. Estelle Hetfield. The nineteen ladies present were listed as the charter members.  Mrs. Brisbane was named President, after Laura Schmidt declined.  A board was elected and Mrs. Charles Flynn compiled the first Bylaws and Constitution.  The club was named “The Laurel League” in honor of founder Laura Schmidt.   

The object of the League was “to bring together Catholic women interested in subjects of educational, cultural, and humanitarian significance, with a view to community usefulness.”  Over the years, League activities developed into those of both social and educational importance.  Monthly meetings focused on current events presented by knowledgeable guest speakers.  Presenters included business professionals, clergy, writers, authors, politicians, doctors, scholars, and others.  Lectures were not restricted to current events, and included book reviews, art, gardening, and fashion.  Entertainment was provided by club members through annual plays, a glee club, a drama group, and a bridge club.  Annual dances and social functions were held for members, as well as for the children and friends of members.

Civic and charitable works composed a large portion of club activities.  The League contributed generously to the Plainfield Community Chest, Catholic Charities, the Children’s Council of Plainfield, the Red Cross, the Scouts, annual scholarships to Muhlenberg Hospital’s School of Nursing, several war-time organizations during WWII, and much more.

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Charter Members, 1935

Mrs. Francis (George) Brisbane
Mrs. Joseph Cary
Mrs. Catherine Cuff
Mrs. Anne (Gerald) Dodd
Mrs. Helen (Archie) Dowd
Mrs. Gladys (Joseph) Duleskis
Mrs. Anne R. (George) Feaster
Mrs. Alice (Louis) Fischer
Mrs. Mary (Christian) Fischer
Mrs. Charles Flynn
Mrs. Estelle (Walter) Hetfield 3rd
Mrs. Luretta (John) Jacobs
Mrs. Margaret (Emerich) Lamb
Miss Sara Lee
Mrs. Hilda (Joseph) Mooney
Mrs. Alice (George) Noonan
Mrs. May (Joseph) Regan
Mrs. Laura (Fred) Schmidt, founder
Mrs. Sarah (Elmer) Weigel

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Scope and Contents

The Papers of the Laurel League of Plainfield document the creation and history of the League from 1935 to 1986 (with gaps).  The collection includes publications such as annual programs (yearbooks), newsletters, scholarship award and dinner programs, some administrative records including proposed annual budgets and a hospitality book.  The bulk of the collection was contained within six scrapbooks and consisted of a large series of newspaper clippings chronologically documenting the League.  The scrapbook pages have been removed from their metal fasteners.  In cases where the scrapbook pages were adhesive, the contents were removed and placed in archival-quality storage.  In other cases, only certain contents, such as administrative documents or dinner programs, were removed and placed within the appropriate series.  In all cases, the scrapbooks were photocopied to preserve their order and provenance.  Some of the original scrapbook pages are housed with the collection; however, adhesive pages that held deteriorating newspaper clippings have been discarded. 

There is also an early, typed Constitution and By-laws (undated), as well as one folder of Monday Afternoon Club membership programs (1976 to 1980). 

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Arrangement

The Papers of the Laurel League are arranged into three series:

Series 1: Administrative documents
Series 2: Publications
Series 3: Scrapbooks

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Access and Use

Restrictions on Access

The "Laurel League " collection is available for research.

Access is restricted to materials prepared by the Local History department staff. All materials must be viewed in the Plainfield Room and may not be removed to another area of the library without permission of the Library Director or designee. Materials must be handled carefully and kept in order. Materials must not be leaned upon, altered, folded, ripped, or traced upon. Marks may not be added or erased from materials. Materials must be returned directly to Local History department staff and inspected before the researcher leaves the Plainfield Room.

Restrictions on Use

One photocopy may be made (by Plainfield Public Library staff) of each document for the purpose of research; official Local History departmental reproduction fees may apply. Permission to publish must be obtained by the Plainfield Public Library Board of Trustees as delegated to the Library Director. Permission to publish does not constitute a copyright clearance. The researcher is responsible for further copyright restrictions. The Plainfield Public Library is not responsible for the misuse of copyrighted material

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Index Terms

This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.

People:

Schmidt, Laura

Organizations:

Laurel League , Plainfield, NJ
Monday Afternoon Club, Plainfield NJ

Places:

Plainfield (N.J.)--History

Subjects:

Catholic clubs & activities
Ladies clubs & activities

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Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

This collection consists of photographs and paper documents, which do not require any additional technology for access.

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Identification of item; Date (if noted); "The Papers of the Laurel League" collection, Box and Folder Number; Local History Department, Plainfield Public Library, Plainfield, New Jersey.

Acquisition Information

The collection was donated in by Anne R Feaster on behalf of the Laurel League of Plainfield.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Sarah Hull in February 2009. The finding aid was written and encoded by Sarah Hull in March 2009. Finding aid content follows the guidelines suggested by Describing Archives: A Content Standard.

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Series Description of the Collection

Series 1: Administrative documents [1966 -- 1980]

Series Description
Series 1 contains Laurel League administrative records. It includes: League papers, historical summaries, a hospitality book, several proposed annual budgets, publicity procedures, and membership materials.  It is composed solely of paper documents, which are typed and hand-written.

Arrangement
Series 1 is arranged chronologically and fills two folders (box 1).


Series 2: Publications [1936--1985]

Series Description
Series 2 contains annual programs (AKA Yearbooks), event programs and announcements for nursing scholarship and annual member luncheons, and monthly club newsletters.  It is composed solely of paper documents.  

Arrangement
Series 2 is arranged chronologically by subject and fills one box.  Several of the items in this series are housed with the scrapbooks, as they were originally glued into or could not be removed from scrapbook pages.

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Series 3: Scrapbooks [1955--1986]

Series Description
Series 3 contains six scrapbooks created by Laurel League members.  They contain a variety of materials, the bulk of which is newspaper clippings.  Other record types include: yearbooks, event programs (printed and handmade), newsletters, ephemera, and photographs.  Documents are typed and handwritten, and photographs are both in color and black & white.  All six scrapbooks have been photocopied; deteriorating, adhesive pages have been discarded.  Paper pages have been preserved in tact whenever possible. In certain cases, less adhesive yearbooks and administrative documents have been removed from pages and housed with the appropriate series.  

Arrangement
Series 3 is predominantly arranged chronologically, and fills three boxes. The six scrapbooks are:
     1: 1935 to 1949 (contains clippings, photos from 1945)
     2: 1951 to 1958 (contains clippings, photos from 1951 to 1958)
     3: 1955 to 1966 (contains no photos, legal size)
     4: 1966 to 1975 (contains photos from 1967 and 1975)
     5: 1977 to 1978 (contains programs, newsletters, no photos – oversized)
     6: 1985 to 1986 (mostly photos from May 1985 the Golden Anniversary)

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Contents Listing

Box

Folder

Title

Date

 1

1

League Papers

1960 --1978

 

2

Hospitality Book

1966 -1975

 

3

Monday Afternoon Club

1976-1980, undated

 2

1

Annual Programs/Yearbooks

1936--1981

 3

1

Scrapbook 1

1935-1949

 

2

Scrapbook 2

1951-1958

 4

1

Scrapbook 4

1966-1975

 

2

Scrapbook 6

1985-1986

 5

1

League Papers

 circa 1970

 

2

Scrapbook 3

1955-1966

 

3

Scrapbook 5 copies

1977-1978

 

4

Scrapbook 5

1977-1978

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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