When It Began

October 3, 1921

During a sojourn in the East Bay while attempting to form an Optimist club in Oakland, he called upon the "Parker-Goddard Secretarial School" in search of a candidate for membership. He explained his purpose for calling, talking several minutes. Presuming that the school was run by two men, he was surprised to learn that, instead, it was operated by women. He sought to excuse himself.

It was then that Adelaide E. Goddard commented, "When the men admit women as members of their service clubs, I would be interested."

This remark sparked an idea for Mr. Morrow. He called together several of the outstanding business women in Oakland to pursue the idea of forming a service club for women. The preliminary meeting was Tuesday, May 31, at 4 p.m., in the Rose Room of Hotel Oakland.

Photo - The officers were installed and the charter presented at an
 inaugural banquet in the West room of Hotel Oakland on Monday evening, October 3, 1921.

Soroptimist - "The Best for Women"

The chosen name - SOROPTIMIST - was coined from two Latin words: SOROR and OPTIMUS. Soror-Sister: the companion word to brother, symbol of the

 bond of comrades. Optimus-The Best, the Highest Good: from this word comes Optimism, the philosophy that all works out to promote the highest good.

 Hence it became interpreted to mean "the Best, or the Highest Good for Women," and more popularly in recent years as "The Best for Women".

The Articles of Incorporation of the Soroptimist Club were filed by Stuart Morrow in Sacramento, State of California, July 1, 1921. Signed by himself, Sarah Jane Fearn, Oakland, and Cecilia Waldron Heaton, Berkeley, they specified the patriotic, civic, moral, social, personal purposes, and advantages for members; designated that clubs would be founded and operated throughout the United States, with the principal business transacted in Oakland, the terms for the corporation to exist being 25 years; and named himself as originator, founder and general manager of the corporation, therefore having 90 percent of the voting power, property rights, and interest of the corporation.

Meantime, formulation plans were going on. A "preliminary" meeting, held May 31 at 4 p.m., in the Rose room of Hotel Oakland, brought little results, evident by the fact that of the seven women present, none except Mrs. Gladys H. Barndollar, were on the charter member list; nor did they attend any of the other pre-charter meetings.

A second gathering, noted as the "First Meeting of Members - Committee Luncheon" - held in a "private room upstairs in the Venus Cafe in Tuesday, June 21, 1921 at 12:15 p.m.", proved successful, as eight of the nine women in attendance became the "leaders" that were needed.
Those eight and their classifications were:
Mrs. Gladys H. Barndollar - Multigraph(ing) Letter Co., principal
Mrs. Doris C. Tilton - Marinello Skin and Scalp Specialist, principal
Mrs. Adelaide E. Goddard - Parker-Goddard Secretarial School, principal partner
Miss. Grace M. Wetterhall - Real Estate, principal
Mrs. Lillian Blake - Art Dealer, proprietor
Mrs. Mary Hughes Patterson - Piano Teacher, principal
Dr. Mae Green Lineker - Optometrist, principal
Mrs. L. Blanche Roller - Corsets and Blouses, proprietor

These ladies are known as the "Power of Eight".

With the help of Mr. Morrow, these women outlined the plans for organizing the club. With assistance from Chambers of Commerce, Rotary clubs, school superintendents and others, Mr. Morrow gathered names of prominent business and professional women as potential members. A number of them were invited to luncheon meetings that were being held weekly at the Hotel Oakland; some were invited as speakers.

From this group and other women, whose names had been submitted by the original "eight", came the charter members of the club, including Violet Richardson (Ward), who we cherish today as our "Founder President". (She has told numerous times how she was invited as a speaker and later elected by breaking the tie-vote by voting for herself). She was the guest speaker on July 25; her name was added as a paid member on August 4 and as present on August 8 for the sixth regular luncheon meeting. The minutes of the election meeting don't show her "breaking the tie" but do say, "Upon a ballot being taken, Miss Violet Richardson was elected president of the club and Mrs. Sue L. Ballard, vice-president."

When 80 women, representing as many classifications of businesses and professions, had signed the charter, it was closed. Election of club officers took place on Monday, September 26, 1921 at the "first annual meeting", as mentioned the above, naming to serve with the president and vice president: Nellie M. Drake, treasurer; and directors, Miss Edna B. Kinard, Mrs. Doris Tilton, Mrs. Gladys R. Leggett (Penland), Mrs. Blanche Rollar and Mrs. Adelaide Goddard. (A newspaper clipping dated Aug. 24, but not giving the year, shows a photo of Mrs. Goddard, who had originally sparked the idea, as "corresponding secretary of the Soroptimist club, a woman's group organized on lines similar to the Rotary club.")

"Quality, Harmony & Service"

Stuart M. Morrow
Founder of Soroptimist

"It is my earnest desire that the slogan, Quality, Harmony, Service, may ever be the guiding principle of every organizer of a Soroptimist Club. Quality - as regards the high grade of its membership; Harmony- as between its members; and Service - not only to its members, but to the city, to the nation, and to that great cause of friendship between nations, upon which the future progress of civilization will undoubtedly depend."