Washington Women's History Consortium
Women's Clubs and Organizations
Carolyn Evans Kern, President, 1919-1921
Washington State Federation of Women's Clubs
Mrs. Walter M. Kern, the thirteenth President, was born January 24, 1878 in Philadelphia, PA, the daughter of John J. and
Virginia Cowden Evans. The family moved to Tacoma when Carolyn was still a young girl and the family may be listed among
the pioneers of the community.
She was educated in the schools of Tacoma and later attended Carleton College at Northfield, Minnesota, where she graduated
as an honor student with a B.A. degree. She took graduate work at the University of Chicago.
She taught in the Classics Department at Whitworth College, and in the State Normal School at Ellendale, North Dakota. It
was there she met Walter N. Kern, then President of the Ellendale Normal School. They were married in 1909 and in 1912
they moved to Walla Walla where Mr. Kern served as superintendent of the public schools. She lived there until her death in 1934.
She was deeply interested in club, church and community work, and was a member of the Walla Walla Woman's Reading Club, the
Walla Walla Art Club and the Congregational Church. During World War 1, she supervised the making of surgical dressings in
Walla Walla, Columbia and Garfield counties.
At the twenty-third annual meeting, she was elected first Vice-president and at the Wenatchee convention, the following
year, because of sudden illness of the President, she was called upon to preside. Graciously and efficiently she fulfilled
the duties so unexpectedly and peremptorily thrust upon her.
Mrs. Balabanoff passed away less than a week after the convention and it thus fell upon the shoulders of Mrs. Kern and
her Secretary to supervise the publication of the 1920-21 yearbook.
The two conventions at which Mrs. Kern presided were at Wenatchee, in the Commercial Club Room, June 29-July 2, 1920; and
at Tacoma in the First Methodist Church, May 31-June 3, 1921. There were 237 registered delegates at the Wenatchee
convention and 367 delegates, including the General Federation president Mrs. Thomas G. Winter at the Tacoma convention.
The distinguishing feature of the Wenatchee convention was the substitution of department conferences for the usual 20
minute reports of the year's work given by the chairmen.
Special attention was given to such phases of Federation work as legislative problems, conservation, Americanization and thrift.
An effort was constantly being made to correlate the state committees and departments with those of the General Federation.
The structure overlapped to a considerable degree and at the Tacoma convention, the bylaws were so amended as to conform as
nearly as possible with the departments of the General Federation.
The aftermath of the war still affected club work. Investigation showed that the conservation needs of this state were
preservation of some of our big trees, forest fire protection and reforestation.
During these years, birds had a conspicuous place on the Conservation programs, not only from the aesthetic but also from the
economic aspects. Exhibits were put on at state fairs showing which birds were to be protected from the hunter's gun. Interest
in bird study and the building of bird houses were fostered among the children. It was pointed out that if all birds were
destroyed, all vegetation would soon perish. A resolution was passed, recommending to the State Superintendent of Instruction
the study of bird life be included in the nature study course of the schools of the state.
On June 3, 1921, a new federal immigration law went into effect, restricting for a period of 14 months, immigration to 3% of
all nationals who were in the country in 1910. As many as 5,000 foreigners entered the country in one day and assimilation was impossible. There was danger to our own state for an alarming increase in illiteracy and this in turn furnished tools for unscrupulous political bosses.
The music clubs in the Federation bemoaned the age of "jazz" and urged the organization of music clubs to create a taste for
It was resolved to create a new committee to be known as the Motion Picture Committee, and whose duties would be to work
for better and cleaner pictures and particularly for pictures suitable for children.