WHITMIRE — One hundred years ago, a woman named Mrs. William Coleman founded a literacy club that started out with 14 members — all of whom were women who researched famous South Carolinians.
In the first year, members bought books and helped with donating them to the community public library, which was being built at the time.
Over the next few years, the club branched out into studying both famous European and American writers and poets and slowly transformed from a literacy club to more of a civic club.
Today, the club is more of a help to the community and surrounding areas rather just a group of individuals coming together for their own benefit. The club, federated in 1941, has had 45 presidents since the first meeting in 1916, including current president Eugenia Best.
The club gathered Nov. 9 at Whitmire Presbyterian Church to celebrate the 100 year history of the club. The celebration included the 14 current members and four former presidents.
Best explained the club to be a great mingling opportunity for not only members, but outsiders as well.
“We enjoy meeting the second Wednesday of every month during the school year. We usually meet in homes and other places but we enjoy the socialization and we always have good food,” said Best.
The gathering also involved many other people who don’t know too much about the club and what they stand for.
Margie Martin of Clinton heard about the event through someone else and wanted to find out what the Biographical Club does.
“I was invited here by my aunt Margie Leaman,” she said. “This is my first time here and it’s pretty neat. There’s plenty of socializing. We don’t have a biographical Club in Clinton so I’m not a member but this is a very interesting thing to be apart of.”
Gail O’Brien, who has been a member for more than 20 years, said she loves what the club has become and looks forward to what it will be in the future.
“I like the fellowship of the club and the fact that we’ve been together so long. Some members have had their mothers serve in the club and now they’re apart of it and I just think that’s great,” O’Brien said.
The club meets each month to go over new ways to help the community. For instance, the club continues to donate to libraries, families and schools.
“We give to our local schools and teachers. We donate books to our community library. We even sponsor one family at Christmas every year,” Best said.
During the celebration of the 100th year, some of the club’s history portfolios were on display, and included documents containing important club information from former club presidents to pictures of past events.
Ruth Hollingsworth spent the majority of her time at the gathering going through the portfolios and becoming more and more impressed on the club’s works.
“I am not a member here,” she said. “I was invited by two members but I think it’s a really good organization, especially after going through their history of how they came about.”
Best gave facts on when the the first meeting was held (April 25, 1916), when they first began endorsing the Girl Scouts (April 1943), and when they began sponsoring the youth center (April 1944).
As president, Best hopes to increase the number of members in the future.
“It’s a wonderful thing to be a member of this club,” she said. “We currently have 14 members and we’re hoping to get some more. We usually give names to the club who we think would be good prospective members and then as a group we discuss the members and decide if we want them to join the club.”
JaKaylah Ravenell is a student at Newberry College.