Washington Women's History Consortium
Women's Clubs and Organizations
Elsie Cowin, President, 1933-1935
Washington State Federation of Women's Clubs
Mrs. Earle Cowin, Elsie Ryan, the twentieth President of the WSFWC was born in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, the daughter of
Reverend M.B. and Ada M. McPhee Ryan.
Mrs. Cowin received her education in the Cleveland High School, Western Reserve University, and the Normal School in
She married Earle E. Cowin and for many years they owned and managed a huge fruit orchard in the Yakima Valley near Wapato.
Before her marriage, Mrs. Cowin taught school. She was a member of the Christian Church, P.E.O., YWCA, and various women's
clubs in her neighborhood and Yakima. She was president of the Tuberculosis Association of Washington State.
Mrs. Cowin was elected President of WSFWC at the convention in Spokane in 1933 and presided at the 38th convention,
June 13-16, in the House Chamber of the Old State House, Olympia; and at the 39th convention, June 25-26, 1935, in the
Crystal Ballroom at the Winthrop Hotel, Tacoma.
The theme of the Olympia convention was "Know your State Government." There were 306 registered delegates. The first
event of the 1934 convention was the dedication of the Federation Forest. More than 100 clubwomen and friends journeyed
to the Forest. On an improvised platform, the stars and stripes and the green flag of Washington State mingled their
colors in the breeze with the multicolored trees and forest foliage.
One afternoon was given over to a tour of the state buildings. Guides took groups of women all over the capital, into
state offices, committee rooms, cafeteria, legislative halls, and the Governor's private office where each received an
official state card autographed by the Governor.
The Juniors had made remarkable growth and progress, and during this administration numbered 56 clubs. At the Olympia
convention, they had their first state Junior Convention. At that time, they organized the Washington State Junior
Federation and met for the first time in that capacity.
Two outstanding thoughts during this administration were Adult Education and World Peace. The rather new field of
Adult Education was becoming more formally organized. Coming like a flood, upon the heels of such activities as
night schools, extension courses, etc. Because of financial aid afforded by federal emergency funds, Adult Education
in this state was reported by the State Department of Education to have had an enrollment of 44,000.
As for peace, the war was over, but the absence of war did not spell peace.
The theme for the Tacoma convention was "Changing Standards," which covered almost every line of thought in art, science,
politics, church, home and in the world itself.
Much of the legislative program was confined to the four greatest needs, that is, corrections for crime, child welfare,
conservation and education.
Through the Division of Finance, women were urged to develop a savings account, to secure insurance, to foster home
ownership, and to study investment securities. In short, suggestions for the solution of practical, everyday problems
A list of the resolutions as endorsed at the convention often serve to show the trend of thought of women during a certain
period. A partial list follows: endorsement of the proposed legislation on birth control, protection of virgin timber
adjoining the Federation Forest, reaffirming the Federation's stand against war and in support of a permanent court of
international justice, asking civil service examinations of all employees of the state, for a public welfare department,
urging temperance teaching in schools and no return of the saloon, asking for funds for the state library and library
extension work, and suggesting inclusion of pistols in the proposed fire arms registration bill.