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Woman's Suburban Democratic Club records

 Collection 0179-MDHC

The Woman's Suburban Democratic Club is a political organization for women in Montgomery County, Maryland. The records document the group's fundraising, educational, organizing, social, and civic activities. Included are administrative records that record the club's efforts to assist Democratic candidates in winning elections, and to encourage Montgomery County voters to elect Democratic leaders at the local, state, and federal level. The meeting minutes in this collection cover such topics as the club's mission, educational programs, voter registration efforts, luncheon presentations featuring nationally prominent speakers, and campaign activities. The records of the Woman's Suburban Democratic Club document not only the history of the organization, but the history of Montgomery County, Maryland in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.


  • 1956-2011
  • Majority of material found within 1975-2011

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies or digital surrogates may be provided in accordance with Special Collections and University Archives duplication policy.

Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder.

Archival materials may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws or other regulations. While we make a good faith effort to identify and remove such materials, some may be missed during our processing. If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.


20.00 Linear Feet

14 Videocassettes

1 Videodiscs : DVD

1 Tape Reels

Scope and Content of Collection

The archives of the Woman's Suburban Democratic Club document the group's fundraising, educational, organizing, social, and civic activities from 1956 to 2011. The materials include correspondence; meeting minutes; newsletters; invitations and photographs of club functions; newspaper clippings; press releases; award and recognition certificates; videotapes; and auction posters.

Administrative History

The Woman's Suburban Democratic Club (WSDC) has played an important role in Montgomery County, Maryland, politics since its establishment in 1957. Thirty-five women from Bethesda and Chevy Chase, all of whom had served as volunteers on Adlai Stevenson's unsuccessful 1956 presidential campaign, founded the group as means of continuing their efforts on behalf of Democratic candidates. On January 4, 1957, former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt helped the WSDC get off to an auspicious start when she addressed the group's inaugural luncheon.

In 1957 Katie Loucheim, then a vice chair of the Democratic National Committee, neatly summarized the objectives of the Woman's Suburban Democratic Club when she exhorted the founding members to "Analyze! Organize! Publicize! Educate! Activate!" Those activities have remained an integral part of the WSDC's mission ever since. Through the years, the WSDC has organized fundraising events for Democratic campaigns and other initiatives; supported voter registration drives; and sponsored voter education programs. WSDC members have served as volunteers on countless local, state, and national Democratic campaigns.

The WSDC grew steadily throughout the 1960s, widening its voter registration activities and strengthening its support for Democratic Party candidates, especially during the 1964 presidential campaign. By 1965, the Woman's Suburban Democratic Club's 750 members made it the second largest organization of its kind in the United States. As steadily increasing numbers of women joined the work force during the 1970s, participation in the WSDC began to wane. The leadership redoubled its recruiting efforts in the face of declining membership, but its numbers have never again reached those of the 1960s. Members continued their fundraising and voter registration efforts, working particularly hard on Paul Sarbanes's 1976 campaign for the United States Senate. Appearances by presidential candidate Jimmy Carter in 1976 and later by his wife, Rosalyn, when she was First Lady, prove the WSDC's continued ability to attract nationally prominent speakers. A notably successful lobbying effort, undertaken during the late 1970s and early 1980s, resulted in the Montgomery County Council's 1985 legislation initiating recycling measures.

During the 1980s, the WSDC focused its energies on turning the tide of Reagan conservatism, hosting seminars and luncheons to assist Democrats in understanding the new political climate. In response to the Democratic National Committee's new emphasis on party organization, the Woman's Suburban Democratic Club sponsored numerous meetings aimed at strengthening the local party's position. In the 1990s, the Woman's Suburban Democratic Club continued to support the Democratic Party with its educational series, luncheons, and support for candidates in general elections. The 1990s saw more WSDC involvement in nonpartisan community issues as well. Early in the decade the group sponsored the production of an award-winning video, "Emergency Medical Services: Effective Use of Health Resources," in cooperation with Montgomery County health officials.

Social events have always been an important part of the Woman's Suburban Democratic Club's activities. These social activities raise funds for the WSDC's political activities and attract new members. In 1958, the WSDC held its first country fair and auction, an event that remained a long-standing tradition and successful fundraiser until the 1980s. During the 1960s, musical pageants and skits such as "Donkey Kicks of 1964" were a popular attraction. In the 1980s, the group began sponsoring the Montgomery County Democratic "Kiss and Make Up" party, to heal any rifts in party unity caused by primary campaigns and invigorate the party's nominees and volunteers for the general elections.

Beginning with Mrs. Roosevelt's appearance at the inaugural luncheon in 1957, speeches by Democratic candidates, noted journalists, and other leaders have been an integral part of the WSDC's voter education activities. Many county and state Democratic officials addressed gatherings of the Woman's Suburban Democratic Club over the years. Thanks in part to Montgomery County's proximity to Washington, D. C., the club has also hosted many nationally prominent Democratic candidates and leaders, including presidential candidates George McGovern, Jimmy Carter, and Al Gore; United States senators Joseph Biden (Delaware) and Edward Kennedy (Massachusetts); California governor Jerry Brown; First Lady Rosalyn Carter and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton; Joan Mondale (wife of then-presidential candidate Walter Mondale); Tipper Gore; and Maryland Governors William Donald Schaefer, Harry R. Hughes, Parris Glendening, and Martin O'Malley.

Throughout its history, the Woman's Suburban Democratic Club maintained a tradition of political leadership and commitment to social and civic activities. The organization celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in 2007.


This collection is organized as ten series.

Series 1
Administrative Records
Series 2
Meeting Minutes
Series 3
Membership and Officer Lists
Series 4
Series 5
Series 6
Series 7
Posters and Certificates
Series 8
Series 9
Audio-Visual Materials
Series 10

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The Woman's Suburban Democratic Club donated its archives to the University of Maryland Libraries in April 1998. The Club donated additional materials in 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2011.

Processing Information

The Woman's Suburban Democratic Club recrods were processed in the autumn of 1998. Metal fasteners were removed from the documents and replaced with inert plastic clips. The records were arranged in ten series, then placed in acid-free folders in acid-free boxes. Photographs were removed to the Photograph Collection. Oversized materials were flattened and placed in an appropriate container or map case. Memorabilia items were assigned control numbers and placed in the Memorabilia Collection. Audio-visual cassettes were placed in appropriate containers and transferred to the Audio-Visual Collection.

Additional materials were interfiled in December 2001, July 2003, November 2005, May 2007, November 2008, November 2009. In addition, newspaper clippings were photocopied onto acid-free paper at this time.

Guide to the Woman's Suburban Democratic Club Records
Processed by Lloyd K. Grabill III and Kathryn Willis
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742