Society of Women Journalists
The Society of Women Journalists (SWJ) was formed in the spring of 1894 by J. S. Wood, editor and publisher of The Gentlewoman. Charlotte Humphry, who wrote under the pen name “Madge” for Truth, was the first president, and Mary Frances Billington, Mrs. Talbot Coke, Lady Colin Campbell, Mrs. Frank Leslie, and Mrs. Arthur Stannard were among the first Vice Presidents. Founded at a time when most press clubs and organizations either excluded women or admitted them only grudgingly, the SWJ offered considerable benefits to members. In addition to space to work, the organization provided a literary advisor to read manuscripts, a solicitor to help negotiate contracts, and numerous networking opportunities through its regular teas, president’s receptions, and lecture series. Though membership fell during World War I, as paper shortages prompted periodicals to furlough staff, by 1945 the organization had rebounded. In 1951, the organization changed its name to the Society of Women Writers and Journalists to reflect its expanding scope. It continues to support women writers today.
About this Project
This site is a research database of membership in the Society of Women Journalists between 1894 and 1914. It is a searchable, free online resource that currently offers the ability to:
- Search by member name & penname
- TBA for more search features
This project was created in order to:
- Recover the identities of women working as journalists at the turn of the twentieth century
- Map networks of social and professional support among female journalists
- Recover a more detailed history of the early years of the SWJ
- Centralize and make more widely accessible SWJ membership lists.
Membership lists come from SWJ Annual Reports published between 1898 and 1915. Incomplete runs of the Annual Reports can be found at the British Library, the Bodleian Library, the New York Public Library, the Library of Congress, and the Toronto Public Library. I have not been able to locate Annual Reports for the first four years of the organization’s existence or for its twentieth year, 1913-1914. I draw on reports about SWJ activities in nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century periodicals to reconstitute membership lists for these years. Biographical information about members comes from a number of sources, including Ancestry, At the Circulating Library, British Periodicals, C19: The Nineteenth Century Index, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Wikipedia, and the SWJ's own periodical, The Woman Journalist.
The database and website were created by a team of faculty and students at the University of Dayton. The project facilitates student and faculty research on women writers from the turn of the twentieth century and on web development.
This project was funded by a Liberal Arts Scholarship Catalyst Grant (2021) and a Dean’s Summer Fellowship (2021), both awarded by the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Dayton. A special thank you to Dr. Phu Phung and Dr. Nick Stiffler for generously sharing their time and expertise in the web development of this project.
If you would like to contribute information or biographies about Society of Women Journalists members between 1894 and 1914, please contact Laura Vorachek (email@example.com).