Women’s Writing Club Setting the Standard

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to workshop your writing with well-known Nebraska authors such as Bess Streeter Aldrich, Mari Sandoz, and Mignon Eberhart? Well, if you were a member of “The Quill,” formerly named the “Happy Ventures Club,” in Lincoln, Nebraska, during the early twentieth century, you would be part of an exclusive circle of women writers. The Quill had strict rules and regulations to join and remain in the club. For example, one requirement to join the club was to have “one published book or two stories published in a standard magazine. Or four acceptable story manuscripts, short stories, or full length.” The activities and achievements of “The Quill” and its members from 1921 to 1963 are documented in the recently digitized collection of meeting minute books and a scrapbook held at History Nebraska.

During their bi-weekly meetings, the members of The Quill read and discussed their works, including manuscripts, poems, and plays. The group shared ideas with each other, and members would often submit their works for various competitions, such as the Omaha Woman’s Press Club. The Quill would also invite local women authors to do readings at their meetings. Club meetings also included reviewing the club’s finances and program events.

In addition to their regular meetings, the club held other events such as picnics, afternoon teas, poetry nights, and an annual dinner. The annual dinner typically had a theme, celebrated the members’ accomplishments over the previous year, and introduced the club’s new officers. For example, the 1939 Annual Dinner was Ferdinand the Bull themed. Lastly, the club members supported each other beyond writing critiques. They shared birth and marriage announcements, promoted their publications in the local newspapers, and maintained a flower fund to send to members experiencing a loss or celebrating an accomplishment.

Until it disbanded in 1963, The Quill was a lively and accomplished group of women writers that boasted some of the biggest names in Nebraska literary history. If you want to learn more about The Quill, explore the collection here.

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History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
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