Back in 1930s, Biddi Parry said a woman could count on being just a few things: Wife, mother and homemaker.
But that changed over the next few decades as women started working outside the home and taking on more prominent roles in business, politics and culture.
In Kokomo, three women anticipated the upcoming gender shift when they founded a group called The Thursday Study Club in 1938.
Its purpose? According to the group’s bylaws, “the objects of the club are the social and educational advancement of its members and mutual helpfulness.”
And that goal has remained in place for the last 75 years. Over that time, a group of around 21 women has met the second Thursday of every month to discuss ideas, share experiences and educate themselves about culture, art and current events.
“Did any of the founding ladies ever think we would be celebrating their endeavors and reading their names 75 years later?” asked Parry, who serves as the club’s secretary. “I really doubt it, but it’s true — those three were visionaries.”
The three women were Eula Lightfoot, Mildred Yeager and Katheryn Fell, who were all active, well known and respected in prominent social circles in Kokomo, Parry said.
Nobody knows exactly how they came up with idea for the club, but the three ended up recruiting local women to meet once a month on Thursdays.
That first year, members organized and delivered talks on topics like child psychology, reviewed Pulitzer-prize-winning authors, discussed books such as “The Life of Jane Adams” and “The Yearling,” and put on a production of “A Christmas Story” by Charles Dickens.
Since its founding, club members have put on around 900 different programs.
“This group has been made up of ladies who have known how to be gracious and kind, and yet they’re interested and they want to grow intellectually,” said vice president Marlene Foreman. “They want to share their knowledge with each other.”