(Editorʼs Note: As part of the Schubert Clubʼs 125th anniversary, the Herald & Tribune will be featuring a Schubert article each month throughout the year.)

It’s weird to think that the 1920s were one hundred years ago. That got me to wondering, what were the ladies of the Schubert Club up to in the 1920s?

One hundred years ago the population of Jonesborough was 815 people. During that decade, the Town got its first movie theatre.

Known as the Blue Mouse, the theatre showed silent movies in what would become the Jackson Theatre. Anyone familiar with Jonesborough knows that the Jackson Theatre is being restored and will hopefully be showing movies again in the near future.

The 1920s came right after the devastation of World War I and the Spanish Influenza Pandemic. The decade is largely known as one of largess with Flappers, the Charleston dance craze, and extravagant parties. It was also a decade of great, technological advancement. So, what was life like in the Schubert Club during those 10 years? Fortunately, some local archives offer a glimpse into that time period.

Every year the Schubert Club puts together a yearbook that details the programs, members and current officers. These yearbooks are a wonderful resource. There’s a copy in the archives of the Jonesborough & Washington County History Museum as well as a copy in the Schubert Club collection in the Jonesborough Public Library. These yearbooks were painstakingly preserved and compiled by former club member Doris Dean before she passed away. She was assisted by museum professional and former member Kathy Mays.

A peek into the 1921-1922 yearbook shows that the women were focused on politics and making sure they knew the ins and outs of local and national government. Perhaps this had something to do with women recently receiving the right to vote? Several Washington County women, including members of the Schubert Club, registered to vote in the 1919 local and 1920 national elections.

Programs in 1921-1922 included “The Federal Courts and their Procedures,” “Great Judicial Interpretations,” “Members of the Cabinet,” “Members of the Present Congress,” and “Congress at work, and what our Representatives are doing.” Programs weren’t limited to politics, though. The ladies of the Schubert Club took the opportunity to travel the world from the comfort of their homes with such programs as “Famous Scandinavians” and “Prominent Russians.” With the club’s strong connection to the Jonesborough library, the women certainly knew how to do their research.

On October 14, 1922, the club celebrated its 24th anniversary. The program for that day included “Reminisces of Old Club Days.” (Now there are many more memories to reminisce about as the club turns 125 years old.) The theme for that year was based around books and famous authors and the members shared information and readings on Edgar Allen Poe, O. Henry and Augustus B. Longstreet, to name a few.

One interesting program included a discussion on Henry Woodfin Grady and his concept of the “New South.” This was a way to reimagine the American South after the Civil War, especially as it began to industrialize. The Schubert Club always took time to discuss current events and to stay informed. The yearbooks for 1923-1925 followed similar patterns and each program would include discussion on a famous author, music, and a paper on a wide variety of topics presented by a different member every meeting. The program from May 8, 1926, focusing on Mother’s Day, shows just how full the meetings were. The gathering included a piano duet, a paper by Mrs. Hickey on “What Mother’s Day Means to Us,” a vocal solo and a vocal duet, a reading of a poem, and a discussion on “America’s Famous Mothers” lead by Mrs. Patton. Then there was another vocal solo an original poem to mothers, a second vocal duet, and a third vocal solo. What a meeting! Occasionally, the Herald & Tribune would cover the happenings of the Schubert Club in the local news section of the paper.

However, they would usually report the same thing: the meeting was hosted by so and so, there was some music and literature, and a “delightful refreshment course was served.” When you look at the yearbooks, you realize the meetings were so much more than that. In the 1926-1927 yearbook, they listed the Club Chorus with distinctions made for sopranos and altos. These women composed original music; they discussed such pressing topics as the Little Theatre Movement and such diverse topics as Egyptian deities. These women were talented, well-versed, well-read, and invested in their community and in their country. Make an appointment at the Heritage Alliance or stop by the library and explore the Schubert Club yearbooks for yourself.


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