Our History

09 Dec 1923 St. Louis Globe Democrat

The attached newspaper clipping documents the founding of WILPF St. Louis in December of 1923. We are working on a full history in preparation for our 100th year celebration!

Until then, thank you to long-time member Joyce Best, who has unearthed a partial history which has neither date nor author. Stay tuned…

“During World War I, there was a very large, active WILPF Branch in St. Louis.  Rose Jonas was one of the organizers along with Claribel Rodewald, Florence Taussig, Margaretta Porter Lawler, Clayda Williams, Edith Cook, Betty Marriot and Mary Porter Scott.  Over the years following World War I, membership gradually dropped.  During World War II, it revived but again gradually dropped.  At the end of the war, Enola Ledbetter (later Lentz), a Jane Addams member, and her friend Louise Robison, moved to St. Louis.  Rose Jonas persuaded them to get together with the core of early WILPFers.  They were all eager to revive the branch.

In 1950, a small group of young women, most of whom had known Ted Lentz at Washington University, began to spend mornings together in their living rooms and gardens.  They discussed matters of deep concern:  the threat of nuclear war, the continued development and testing of nuclear weapons, the first signs of McCarthyism.  They brought their babies and their mending and also articles on the issues.  They wrote letters to editors and legislators.  Not satisfied with what they could do themselves, they sent copies of their letters to friends around the country, urging them also to write public officials and editors, and to tell others.

Women in this group were Grace Colowick Ultis, Joan Lyons Paul, Marge Boercker, Agnes Clark and Joy Guze.  They were jokingly referred to as the Sewing Circle.

Ted Lentz, a professor who forever kept in touch with his students, reported the activities of this little group to Rose Jonas.  A childless widow in her 70’s, JOni asked to attend a session of the Sewing Circle.  She Immediately designated it “The Committee of Correspondence,” likening it to the committees of that name during the first years of our country.  She called attention to directives from the national WILPF.” …

“Dad, how do soldiers killing each other solve the world’s problems?”

— Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes

“Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.”

— Franklin D. Roosevelt

“We have to talk about liberating minds as well as liberating society”

— Angela Davis