General Meeting with Historian Laura Gellott
Time & Location
About the Event
Our guest speaker is historian Laura Gellott, who published a book about a former Fortnightly Club member and highlights the Club’s contributions in the community.
Laura Gellott, professor of history, emeritus, at the University of Wisconsin, recently published a biography of longtime Summit resident Helen Perry Curtis. Helen’s story has a number of connections to the Fortnightly Club.
Curtis was the niece of Frances Twombly, a charter member of the Fortnightly Club. When the young Helen Perry first came to Summit in 1908, her aunt introduced her to the Club. Mrs. Twombly was also president of the Town Improvement Society, an organization fostered by the Fortnightly Club. A close friend of the Twomblys, and of young Helen Perry, was the club’s president Mary White, herself a noted women’s suffragist.
Her book also discusses the involvement of the Fortnightly Club in the controversy surrounding the firing of Louise Connolly. Connolly served as superintendent of Summit’s public schools from 1906-1910. A faction of the school board decided that the schools had become too “feminized” under Connolly’s leadership, and did not renew her contract. The ensuing furor was covered in the New York Times, with members of the Fortnightly Club rising to Connolly’s defense. Connolly went on to a noted career as assistant director of the Newark Museum, working with John Cotton Dana. All this is discussed in her book.
Laura will speak to us about her research and discoveries regarding the FC while writing the book with Helen Perry Curtis’s granddaughters, who currently live right here in Chatham, NJ.
The book, “Helen Perry Curtis and the European Trip of a Lifetime”, will be available for purchase that evening, and will also be available at Town Books in Westfield, or through the Chatham Township Historical Society. She also has a speaking engagement at the Summit Free Public Library on October 7.