Washington Women's History Consortium
Women's Clubs and Organizations
Jeanette Bell Shedd, President, 1915-1917
Washington State Federation of Women's Clubs
The tenth President of the State Federation was born in Kansas, though much of her childhood was spent in Virginia.
Her family moved to Oregon and settled in Corvallis.
At 18 Jeannette married a fine young man by the name of Wimberly, but within the year he was stricken and died of
Tuberculosis, leaving her a young widow at 19. Courageously she began life anew, went to college and prepared
herself for teaching, which profession she followed more than 12 years. Then she married a long time friend, Dr.
Solon Shedd, state geologist for the state of Washington and head of the Geology Department at Washington State
College at Pullman.
Soon after her arrival in Pullman, she became affiliated with the Fortnightly Club and through it became interested
in the State Federation work. At the Spokane convention in June 1915, she was elected President.
She presided at the twentieth annual convention of, WSFWC, June 20-23, 1916 in the high school auditorium at
Everett, at which there were 260 registered delegates and at the twenty-first convention, June 6-9, 1917, in
the First Christian Church, Yakima at which there were 272 registered.
The continuity of Federation work was unbroken during this administration but changes and additions marked a normal
progression. Realizing the value of Federation districts, many states were adopting the plan. It was good logic to
assert that district Federations were able to further the work of state committees and departments in a more far-reaching
way than was possible from appeals to single clubs, and also are able to reach out and absorb many clubs which otherwise
stood willingly but helplessly alone. Washington had four districts - Yakima, Gray's Harbor, Snohomish and Skagit.
Impelled somewhat by necessity, Mrs. McKee originated the custom of sending weekly letters to the papers over the state
and Mrs. Shedd followed her plan, with an increasing number of papers accepting her letters for publication. However,
getting the letters to 12 Sunday and 35 weeklies each week was an arduous task, even with the assistance of a splendid
One of the greatest successes during this administration was a new project, the observance of Baby Week. This campaign
was a stupendous piece of work in public health. It was a nationwide movement done in cooperation with the Federal
Children's Bureau and with the aid of the State Commissioner of Health, the Extension Departments of the University
and the State College of Washington and the State Department of Agriculture. Governor Lister issued a special
proclamation for it. The slogan was "Better Babies, Better Parents, Better State." This project led to an agitation
by the clubwomen of Washington for the registration of births and deaths which had heretofore been kept in a desultory manner.
A short story contest took place during the last year of Mrs. McKee's administration. A collection of the stories was
published in book form. Five hundred copies were issued. Three hundred were sold at $1 each, paying the cost of the
publication. The remaining 200 were turned over to the Endowment Committee who sold them at 50 cents apiece, materially
aiding the Endowment Fund which had reached something more than $3,000.
Many conferences were held over the state by the Civic and Industrial Departments to discuss such subjects as immigration,
institutions, feeblemindedness, employment and unemployment, prison reform, living wage and laws concerning women and children.
Most of the pledges made at Spokane for the Endowment Fund had been redeemed. Pledges in money reached more than $1,500
and pledges in produce covered a wide range, from boxes of fruit of all kinds, through wheat, potatoes, hay, livestock,
such as turkeys, pigs and clams, to broom covers, silver polish and railroad ties.
At the Yakima meeting it was voted to invest the cash on hand in the Endowment Fund, amounting to something more than
$3,000 in Liberty War Bonds.
According to custom, at Everett, a Chestnut tree was dedicated to the clubwomen of the city.
Mrs. Shedd's administration came to a close in June 1917. In April menacing rumble of the drums signified that the United
States was at war with Germany.
In 1925 Dr. Shedd joined the faculty of Stanford University at Palo Alto, California. He and Mrs. Shedd built a beautiful
home on the campus where they disseminated generous and delightful hospitality until it was arrested by the death of Mrs.
Shedd, September 2, 1939.
Loyalty and fidelity to the Washington State Federation of Women's Clubs was one of Jeannette Shedd's inherent attributes.
Nearly every year she returned for the conventions. Keen disappointment ensued both to the Federation and Mrs. Shedd when
her efforts and plans were thwarted.