Washington Women's History Consortium
Women's Clubs and Organizations
Martha Thornton, President, 1943-1944
Washington State Federation of Women's Clubs
Mrs. Grover Thornton (Martha Murphy), twenty-sixth President of WSFWC, was a graduate of Whitman College at Walla Walla.
She was Principal of Kelso High School. Later she worked in the First National Bank of Kelso and in the County Treasurer's
Especially interested in patriotic organizations, she was State President of the American Legion Auxiliary and was active
in Eastern Star, the Tuberculosis Association, the American Red Cross. and the American Association of University Women.
She also served as Advisor to the Rainbow Girls.
She served the State Federation as Corresponding Secretary, State Treasurer and First Vice-president.
Elected at Seattle in 1943, she carried on the war-connected activities. One big GFWC project was the acquiring of a fleet
of bombers by the purchase of War Bonds by clubwomen of the state. Washington accepted the quota of $350,000 worth of bonds
to buy a bomber. Over $1,000,000 worth of War Bond Certificates were turned into the State Federation by clubwomen, far
exceeding the quota.
Another GFWC project, enthusiastically carried Out by the Junior Clubs of Washington State, was the sending of wedding gowns to
England for the use of English brides, whose clothing rations prohibited the purchase of any special finery. Two beautiful
wedding gowns were purchased and sent - one included veil, slippers and stockings.
The Mid-Year Board Meeting was at the Mayflower Hotel in Seattle. Besides the war work, the Equal Rights Amendment was endorsed.
Child Welfare was vigorously supported against the war time pressure to relax the rules for children in industry.
Because of carelessness by local authorities in giving marriage certificates, the wives and children of soldiers were being
endangered in their rights. The Federation undertook to meet the problem on the local level, and by appeal to public opinion,
uniform marriage certificates were arranged with local authorities cooperating.
A campaign for voter registration was zealously pushed. Mrs. Thornton was appointed by the Governor to a State Committee
Cancer Control support was added to the Tuberculosis Association support.
At the GFWC convention in St. Louis, May 1944, Mrs. Thornton became our first President sitting as General Federation Director
while still President of Washington State.
In 1944, another two-day war-time convention was at the New Washington Hotel in Seattle with 199 registered. A new problem had
arisen with women in industry. Mothers of small and school-age children were being employed in war plants and other war
industries. Because of the shortage of labor, many children were left uncared for. Efforts to provide for child care were
undertaken by clubwomen.
In August, Mrs. Thornton resigned, as she and Mr. Thornton had moved out of the state. They made their home in Portland,
Oregon. Mrs. Frank Pratt, Jr., First Vicepresident automatically became President.