After Women's Suffrage
The Minute Women of Washington
by Shanna Stevenson
Woman’s Committee of the Council of National Defense
This group was organized as part of the efforts of the Woman’s Committee, Council of National Defense, chaired by Dr. Anna Howard Shaw. In Washington State, Mrs. Winfield (Susie) Smith was the chair of this group, which was charged with carrying out federal directives at the state level.
The Woman’s Committee had several areas of emphasis: Americanization, Child Welfare, Educational Propaganda, Food Administration, Food Production, Foreign and Allied Relief, Health and Recreation, Registration, Women in Industry, Maintenance of Existing Social Agencies. The Woman’s Committee struggled with establishing its authority over this work because of lack of clear direction from the federal government.11
Mrs. McCready served in both the Minute Women and Woman’s Committee of the Council of National Defense for the state.
Ida Clyde Clarke summarized the work of this group in Washington State in her 1917 report quoting Mrs. Smith. Their work included registration of women in the state, assisting with Liberty Loan Bonds and with the November, 1917 food pledge. Mrs. Smith also stated that the women worked with saving fruit crops and supporting soldiers at Camp Lewis and sailors at Bremerton.12
Mrs. Ruth Karr McKee, the head of the Minute Women, stated that Mrs. Smith was out of the state for some of this work and described the “tentative character of her organization.”13 The outcome was that the entire Woman’s Committee of the Council of National Defense in Washington State resigned in late 1917 and its work was taken over by the Minute Women, who effectively operated as the Woman’s Committee of the Council of National Defense for the duration of the war.
View a table showing membership overlap between the National League for Women’s Service, the Woman’s Committee, Washington State Council of Defense, and the State Division of the Woman’s Committee, Council of National Defense.