The American News Women's Club was founded on April 4, 1932, as the Newspaper Women's Club, with membership limited to women reporters and writers employed by newspapers. Today, the ANWC embraces a diverse group of journalists, independent authors and professional communicators representing newspapers, radio and television stations, publishing companies, Web sites, public relations firms, corporations, academic institutions and government. The broader membership base reflects an evolving news.
Founders Margaret Hart Canby of The Evening Star and Katharine H. Brooks of The Washington Post intended to create an elite news club exclusively for newspaper women by breaking away from the Women's National Press Club, which included non-reporters and publicity.
The organizing members of the Newspaper Women's Club were women journalists from the Washington newspapers of that era: The Evening Star, The Washington Post, The Washington Times and The Washington Herald. The Club also admitted a limited number of prominent women who had been helpful to women reporters gathering news. These "Associate Members" endure as a vital segment of Club membership.
The Club's name has changed several times during its 80-year history. In the early 1940s, active membership grew to include women in Latin America, and the "Newspaper Women's Club" became the "American Newspaper Women's Club." In 1981, the current name, "American News Women's Club" was adopted, permitting women from radio, television, magazines, newsletters, public relations and public affairs to join their newspaper colleagues and identify professionally with the Club.
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In April 1932, the "Clubhouse" was the Ladies' Dining Room of the National Press Club. Meetings were Mondays at tea time. When Prohibition was repealed in February 1933, the Press Club asked the women to move in order to enlarge the Press Club bar, a popular watering hole for thirsty newsmen. The newswomen then rented a second-floor space at 1406 H Street, NW, for $25 a month.
Several years and moves later, the Club began renovating space in a one-story building at 1604 20th Street, NW. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt officially inaugurated the clubhouse when she turned the key to open the door. The Club finally purchased a permanent home at 1607 22nd Street, NW, in 1961, and the mortgage, paid in full, was burned at the Women's National Bank in 1979.
The Club established several traditions early on. Six months after formation, a party was held honoring Mrs. Herbert Hoover. Later that year, the Club honored Virginia native Nancy Witcher Langhorn Astor, the first woman to be a Member of Parliament in Britain. First Ladies traditionally have been invited into Honorary membership, an honor also extended to and accepted by Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Mother of Great Britain. Amelia Earhart became a member shortly before her fatal flight.
The American News Women's Club was named a historic site in journalism by the National Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ).
SPJ is the nation's largest organization of journalists. The president of the Washington Professional Chapter of SPJ, Ann Augherton, and Vice President Julie Asher formally announced the historic site designation at the Clubhouse on Oct. 16, 2002.
"Your club joins a roll call of honorees that includes about 90 or more individuals, organizations and places of historic interest," Augherton said in making the announcement. "This designation recognizes the efforts of women to attain equality with men in the practice of journalism."
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