Springfield Women's Institute

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Springfield Women's Institute

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The date of establishment of the Springfield Women’s Institute is not precisely known: minute books variously report that the Institute was formed on May 5 in 1904, 1905 or 1907; the Institute’s Tweedsmuir History indicates that the Institute was formed in 1907. In 1947 the Institute began compiling a Tweedsmuir History of the district of East Elgin. Some key members of the Springfield Women’s Institute included Mrs. F. C. Muller, the first president; Mrs. Shaw, first secretary; and Mrs. W. I. Atkin, first director. In addition to compiling a Tweedsmuir History, the Institute performed community-service work including cleaning and improving East Cemetery, supporting the St. Thomas children’s shelter, and sending goods to soldiers overseas. The Springfield Women’s Institute was disbanded in 1997. The first Women’s Institute in Canada was established at Stoney Creek, Ontario by Mrs. Adelaide Hoodless on February 9, 1897. In 1904 the Ontario Department of Agriculture began funding seven full-time staff to help promote and organize Women’s Institutes in communities throughout the province. By 1913 institutes were established in all the provinces. In 1919 provincial representatives met in Winnipeg to form the Federated Women’s Institutes of Canada (FWIC), a national organization that co-ordinates the activities of the provincial Women's Institutes. The FWIC’s national office was established in Ottawa in 1958. “The motto ‘For Home and Country’ reflects FWIC aims: to promote an appreciation of rural living, to develop informed citizens through the study of national and international issues (particularly those affecting women and children) and to initiate national programs to achieve common goals. Each provincial organization is represented on the board of directors, which meets annually; new executives are elected at triennial conventions. FWIC are constituent societies of the Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW), the international organization of Women's Institutes and other organizations with common aims and objectives.” The Federated Women’s Institutes of Ontario (FWIO) was founded in 1919 and soon began a process that resulted in the ‘Tweedsmuir Histories’ project. “In 1925, a special standing committee of the FWIO was formed known as the Committee for Historical Research and Current Events….By the mid-1930s, Lady Tweedsmuir, wife of Lord Tweedsmuir, Governor General of Canada, [1935-1940,] …suggested that Ontario Women's Institute Branches keep local history books as the WIs in England did, where she had been a devoted member. In 1940, a recently widowed Lady Tweedsmuir was delighted to approve that these histories should be named after her late husband, and so originated ‘The Tweedsmuir Village History Books.’ Because documenting local history was seen as a fitting project to mark the upcoming fiftieth anniversary of the Women's Institute movement, a campaign was launched in 1945 encouraging every WI Branch in Ontario to prepare a history of their local community before the 1947 celebrations took place. This proved a popular project, and these local histories were officially named Tweedsmuir History Books in 1947….A great boost to these histories was the appointment of FWIO's first provincial Tweedsmuir History Curator in 1957, Mrs. R.C. Walker. By 1964 she reported that all levels of the organization had begun to take Tweedsmuir Books seriously, with well over 1,100 Branch histories recorded.”

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