Washington Women's History Consortium
Women's Clubs and Organizations
Ella A. Balabanoff, President, 1919-1920
Washington State Federation of Women's Clubs
Mrs. C.P. Balabanoff, the twelfth President of the State Federation, elected at Centralia, was never privileged to preside
at a convention. Ill during the first convention, death stepped in before the second.
She was born in New York City and educated in its public schools and graduated from the New York Normal, now Hunters College.
A desire to enter Columbia University for special work in higher mathematics, was deferred in order to take a course in Greek,
under private tutors. Women were not encouraged at that institution at that time and Greek was a requisite for admission.
After a year's study, the ambition for a college chair in mathematics was given up in order, as Mrs. Balabanoff
laughingly remarked, "to study the more difficult art of making one dollar do the work of two in my own home."
Her marriage to Dr. Balabanoff, whom she met as a young medical student in New York, occurred in 1890. Together they
journeyed to Tacoma, to establish their future home. Here their two children, a son and daughter were born. Ella's early
life was devoted to homemaking, her children, and as assistant to her husband in founding his medical practice.
Her first work outside her home was as President of the Women's Society of the First Presbyterian Church of Tacoma. As
President she was eligible to the Presidents' Council, which she enjoyed and frequented. She became Treasurer, then
Secretary and was elected Council President for four successive terms.
As a delegate from the Twentieth Century Club of Tacoma, Mrs. Balabanoff attended her first Federation meeting at Raymond.
She was so impressed with the work and possibilities, she decided to put all the time she could to woman's club work. She
attended every succeeding convention except the one in Everett in 1916, at which time she was in New York where she was a
delegate to the General Federation Biennial, until illness prevented her from presiding at the convention in Wenatchee.
In 1918 she was appointed Chairman of Civil Service Reform Department in the General Federation and became an authority on
the subject. At the Des Moines Biennial, she made one of the outstanding reports on Civil Service Reform, gaining national
recognition in the press.
Immediately after that meeting she became ill and passed away July 3, 1920.
Mrs. Balabanoff had a most pleasing personality, was interested in all departments of women's activities, was capable,
energetic and an indefatigable worker.
She had written a comprehensive address to be given at the state convention in Wenatchee, which, as she lay ill in bed in
Tacoma, was read by Mrs. John D. Morris, the Corresponding Secretary.
Mrs. W.M. Kern of Walla Walla, the First Vice president took over the work and responsibilities and served as President during
the remainder of Mrs. Balabanoff s term.