GFWC Women in History
Early members of the GFWC
Carrie Shumway (1858-1956) was a charter member of the Kirkland Women’s Club.
She was one of 8 women who started a town library in 1919/1920, then raised money to build the clubhouse 407 1st Street that opened in June 1925. (There’s a time capsule buried under the northeast cornerstone.) The women also operated a baby-welfare clinic. Today the building is used as a rental hall.
In 1911, Carrie Shumway was elected to the Kirkland, Washington, City Council. She became the first woman in the state to be elected to a city council.
Carrie Shumway was born on September 7, 1858, in Belchertown, Massachusetts, and graduated from Mount Holyoke College, a rare achievement for a woman of her generation. She came to Washington State with her family in 1883 at the age of 25. They first homesteaded in the Skagit Valley, then moved to Seattle in 1888.
Shumway was a school teacher, one of the original staff of the T. T. Minor Grade School in Seattle. Miss Carrie was hired as the seventeenth teacher in the Seattle Public School system. Carrie had previously taught second grade in the Edison and Blanchard community schools prior to moving to Seattle. Sisters Carrie, Mary, and Emma were all teaching school at Seattle’s Central Grade School in 1889 during the city’s great fire. She also taught in Seattle High School when the faculty consisted of only three teachers, and eventually was appointed vice principal at that school. She helped establish Tacoma’s first high school. In 1908, after retiring from the Seattle teaching staff she taught English in Tokyo. Upon her return in 1910, she joined her sisters and brothers to live in the recently completed family home on Lake Washington Boulevard in Kirkland.
She was involved with a wide range of community organizations, including the Daughters of the American Revolution, serving as a state historian for that group. She was also a founding member of the Seattle Bicycle Club and the Seattle Camera Club. She was a charter member of the Kirkland Woman’s Club and was active in both the Community Congregational Church in Kirkland and the Plymouth Congregational Church in Seattle.
Carrie Shumway died at the age of 97, on January 1, 1956, in Tacoma at the home of her niece, Ruth Shumway. She was buried in the family plot in the Kirkland Cemetery.
Esther Stark Maltby (1880-1960) was president of the Seattle Federation of Women's Clubs from 1914-1922 and president of the Washington State Federation of Women's Clubs from 1925-1927. Federation Forest State Park began in the mid-1920s as the dream of Jean Caithness Greenlees, a teacher at Everett High School. Alarmed by the pace of deforestation in Washington and across the country, she initiated an effort to preserve a tract of old growth trees for use as a park. Her goal was to ensure that future generations could experience an ecosystem that was rapidly being wiped out. Greenlees presented her idea to Esther Maltby, the president of the Washington State chapter of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC-WS), then known as the Washington State Federation of Women’s Clubs. Maltby lent her support to the plan and the organization launched a “Save a Tree” campaign in 1926. Their goal was to raise $25,000 to purchase a 62-acre stand of old growth forest near Snoqualmie Pass. It took two years to raise the money, with the final donation coming from Gilbert Grosvenor, president of the National Geographic Society. The park was acquired in 1928 and dedicated in 1934. The name “Federation Forest” was chosen to honor the work of the GFWC-WS. Tragedy struck the new park in 1938 when logging on adjacent property left its trees vulnerable to wind-throw and it was condemned as a safety hazard. This set off an effort to find a new location for the park. The present-day location along the White River was eventually chosen and was opened to the public on July 16, 1949.
Catherine Montgomery (1857-1967), a pioneering educator, conservationist and GFWC-WS member, donated her estate of $89,000 to be used for education at the park. This money was used to build the Catherine Montgomery Interpretive Center, which was dedicated on September 20, 1964. It was Catherine Montgomery, a teacher at WWU from 1899 to 1926, from Bellingham, Washington, who came up with the notion of a ridgeline track from Canada through the mountains of Washington, Oregon and California to Mexico. She saw "a high trail winding down the heights of our western mountains with mile markers and shelter huts." In 2010, Montgomery, self-described as, “an old Maid,” was inducted into the Northwest Women’s Hall of Fame as the “Mother of the Pacific Crest Trail.”
Alice Ives Breed (1853-1833) graduated in 1871 from (what is now) Shimer College. She subsequently married Francis W. Breed, the owner of a shoemaking company in Lynn, Massachusetts. The Breeds lived in the Boston area, where she was active in the women’s club movement. She was one of the 11 founding members of Lynn, Massachusetts' North Shore Club, and its first president. She frequently toured the country speaking to other women's clubs. In 1896, she was elected as the vice-president of the nationwide Federation of Women's Clubs. In 1898, she was memorialized with a souvenir spoon. This postcard illustrates a part of the vast amount of anti-suffrage, anti-feminist
sentiment that circulated during those decades before women had the vote. Alice herself at times invoked dramatic tactic
al moves from Robert’s Rules to gain control of a meeting, as the Boston Post reported on 3 January 1902 - hence the harsh caricature on this postcard.
Alice Ives Breed made her home a salon where she entertained what was (in that parochial age) a wide variety of guests. For example, when in Japan she sent pleas to the Empress that Japanese women be allowed to attend the convention of the General Federation of Women's Clubs which would meet in Denver in 1898, and the Empress, not without arousing opposition, appointed two Court ladies to attend. These two progressive women were later guests in Alice's home. Another personality sponsored by Alice, whom she met at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago, was Swami Vivekananda, and he too became her house guest.
When a young Persian gentleman, the eminent Baha'i Ali Kuli Khan, was introduced to Alice, it was quite natural for her to listen to him and accept the Bahá’í Faith from him. Breed converted to the Baha'i Faith as did most of her children. Her daughter, Florence, married the same Persian gentleman in 1904, a marriage that was praised as a symbol of the unity because it was the first Baha'i marriage uniting East and West.