Records of Soroptimist International of Arlington, Virginia, 1938-2008

Collection Number
RG 156
History
Soroptimist International (SI) is an international organization whose members work to improve the lives of women and girls through programs leading to social and economic empowerment. The Arlington organization was formed in 1938. A year later, the Venture Club, a related organization for young business women 19-29 (later to 31) was chartered. Each member of the Venture Club was required to be sponsored by a Soroptimist member, and the Soroptimists were to provide guidance and regular mentorship, although the Venture Club operated independently. It was assumed that the younger women would eventually become regular SI members as they matured. The Venture Club in Arlington continued until 1973.

Over the years the Soroptimists raised money in a variety of ways for projects benefitting many worthy local causes such as Arlington Hospital, Over-60 Employment and Counseling Services (publicized in 1957 by “The Ladies Home Journal”), American Red Cross, and the Arlington Public Library, among others.

In support of the empowerment goals of SI, several monetary awards were started. These included: Youth Citizenship Awards and the Training Awards (later called the Violet Richardson Awards and the Women’s Opportunity Awards). In the 1990s the club participated in the Women Helping Women Awards and the Women of Distinction Program.

It was challenging over the years to keep the number of members at a sustainable level. The club disbanded in 2008.
Scope and Content
Record Group 156 houses the records of Soroptimist International of Arlington, Virginia. The record group measures approximately 4.6 linear feet and additionally 21 large scrapbooks. The collection dates from 1938 to 2008 with the bulk between 1956 and 2007 with few records dating from the later 1970s. Types of material include minutes, club histories, newsletters, correspondence, photographs, clippings, conference and award documents and miscellaneous items, as well as the aforementioned scrapbooks.

The RG documents the organization’s activities including participation in regional and national conferences. SI scrapbooks, 1950s-2001 especially are valuable in this regard, including many programs, officer lists, newsletters, clippings, and photographs. The Venture Club scrapbook covers activities 1971-1973.
Arrangement and Description
RG 156 was processed in two phases. In the first phase it was organized into ten series by type of material. An eleventh series was added in the second phase and material was added to the various pre-existing series where appropriate or in a group at the end. Series 1 was an exception in that all additional material, including duplicates had to go at the end. Series 1 includes Foundation Documents, bylaws, procedures, and histories. Series 2 includes Minutes, Reports, and Member Lists. There is a gap in the minutes in the 1960s. Series 3 is Newsletters. Series 4 is Correspondence. Series 5 documents Conferences. Series 6 contains Awards and material relating to organization Activities, including the Venture Club. Series 7 is Photographs. Series 8 contains Printed Matter. Series 9 consists of Scrapbooks, which may contain some of the types of material represented in other series as mentioned above. These scrapbooks are in separate oversized boxes. Series 10 contains miscellaneous items including an American flag and memorial material for Myrtle Lee Hitt. Series 11 is Financial Materials and contains additional treasurer’s reports, receipts, and tax documentation. Within series, arrangement is generally chronological, except Series 6 which is generally alphabetical. As a combination of items from both phases, Series 10 follows neither a chronological nor an alphabetical arrangement.
Provenance
Sharon Williams, representing the organization, donated the records to the Library in 2008.
Restrictions
There are no research restrictions on Record Group 156.
Related Collections
Researchers interested in Arlington Women’s organizations may also consult: RG 33, American Association of University Women, Arlington Branch, RG 44, Arlington League of Women Voters, RG 49, Woman’s Club of Lyon Village, RG 50. Women’s Club of Waycroft, RG 73, Williamsburg Woman’s Club of Arlington, RG 131, Zonta Club of Arlington County, Virginia, and several others.

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