Washington Women's History Consortium
Women's Clubs and Organizations
Kate Turner Holmes, President, 1899-1901
Washington State Federation of Women's Clubs
Kate Turner Holmes, the second President of the State Federation was born in Wisconsin. In 1887 she was married to Mr. H.E. Holmes in Boise, Idaho. Very soon they moved to Walla Walla and later to Seattle where they spent the remainder of their lives. To them were born six children, four daughters and two sons.
She was elected to the presidency at the convention in Seattle in 1899, and presided at the fourth annual convention in North Yakima and at the fifth in Tacoma, 1900 and 1901 respectively. She was fully conversant with the needs of the Federation, having represented the Woman's Century Club of Seattle at the organizational meeting and having been a member of the Executive Board during the three intervening years.
She took an active interest in civic affairs in her own city. She helped organize the Seattle City Federation and was President of the Seattle Kindergarten Association, in which capacity she used her influence toward legislation making it possible for the larger cities in the state to incorporate kindergartens into their school systems.
An important item of development in the Federation during Mrs. Holmes' administration was the incorporation of the Washington State Federation of Women's Clubs which was consummated April 20, 1901. The Board of Directors, now called the Executive Board, directed the preparation of the Articles of Incorporation which were accepted by the convention in Tacoma , June, 1901.
A general idea of the interests of club women during this administration may be gathered from some of the standing and special committees listed: Education, Club Extension, Library, Art, Music, Legislation, Consumers' League and Reciprocity Bureau.
Mrs. Holmes, a woman of culture, was much interested in education and public welfare. She urged the organizing of young girls'clubs as well as mothers'clubs. She had a desire to have a music club in every town, and her art committee dwelt upon municipal art as well as upon sculpture and painting. She had much to do with the organization of what was termed the Parents and Teachers' League in the state of Washington, which developed into the National Parents and Teachers' Association.
In the report of her administration she relates the interest of the women in a state reformatory for girls and of their efforts on behalf of the welfare of children. Reports register opposition to the sale of cigarettes to minors; a desire for the abolishment of capital punishment; an agitation against the unenforcement of laws relative to gambling, the closing of saloons and the sale of liquor. Laws, later passed, making it a crime for a man to desert his family, had their incipiency during this time.
All federated women were urged to become members of the Consumers' League, which fostered the buying, of only those garments made under sanitary conditions and under better conditions for the workers. It made a crusade for the absolute abolition of the sweat shop.
An item of outstanding interest during Mrs. Holmes' regime was the passing, by the Legislature, of the Traveling Library Bill, sponsored by the Federation.
Traveling Libraries were outfitted by the Federation and sent to rural and book-starved communities. When the Legislature established a State Library Commission, it was voted by the Federation to turn the material on hand over to the State Library. Mrs. Holmes was appointed by the Governor to serve on the Library Commission.
Governor Meade also appointed her on a committee to visit and inspect the School for the Deaf and the Blind at Vancouver.
There was not enough money in the treasury to support a club paper in Washington, so the "Club Journal" of the Oregon State Federation was adopted in 1901 as the official organ of the Washington State Federation of Women's Clubs. Reports and items of interest of the most important meetings were published in the Journal and sometimes the entire address of the President was included.
It was Mrs. Holmes who suggested that the title "Federation Mother" be conferred upon Mrs. Stacy, the first Federation President and Mrs. A. J. Coffman of Chehalis immediately moved to that effect.
The "Four Leaf Clover," the Federation song, was dedicated to Mrs. Holmes by its author, Mrs. Ella Higginson, who was a very close friend.
Mrs. Holmes made an effort to visit personally with each delegate present and in order that they might meet each other appointed a "Committee on Introductions" which included the names of Mrs. Joshua Pierce, Tacoma; Mrs. J.A. Mitchell, Spokane; and Mrs. John W. Mathews, Pullman.
One of her last estimable gestures was the presentation to the Federation of a fireproof, steel chest, to be deposited with the Library of the University, filled with valuable papers and a complete file of yearbooks to date.