After serving the women of the community for 126 years, the Jamestown Fortnight voted to disband.
Fortnightly was created to ensure the cultural, literary and intellectual development of its members. The organization was named after its bi-weekly meetings which took place in the fall and ended in early spring.
Jamestown Biweekly was founded on February 2, 1894, by Mrs. Charles H. Gifford and a group of women who met at the home of Mrs. George Tuckerman.
“It was a time in the 19th century when women were often denied access to universities, and the Jamestown club was no different,” the group said.
Members of the Bi-Monthly group were expected to write and present articles on a wide range of topics, including American issues, international events, art, humor, technology, education, philosophy and religion.
Fortnightly also held a special “Summer lunch” where members could listen to a speaker and participate in “revelry.”
Mrs. Charles H. Gifford was elected the first president of Jamestown Fortnightly. Other notable presidents included Mrs. Mary Emogene Hazeltine, Mrs. Charles Goddell, Mrs. Stanley Weeks, Miss Jennie Vimmerstedt and Mrs. B. Dolores Thompson.
As one of the oldest women’s organizations in Jamestown, Fortnightly leaves behind a powerful legacy.
Renate Bob has been a member since 1970.
“I’m definitely the oldest member still around, at 93,” said Bob.
Bob said the decision to disband was the result of member deaths and fewer people interested in submitting stories.
See GROUP, Page A3
By the early 1900s, the group had 56 members and 15 people on the waiting list. Bob said membership has been reduced to around 40 women.
“Gradually we lost people and it was basically the decision to disband,” said Bob.
After the Fortnight’s decision to disband after 126 years, the organization said its remaining funds would be distributed to local libraries.
“We support libraries, so whenever one of our members passed away, we always donated $50 each time to Prendergast,” said Bob.
The Prendergast, Lakewood and Falconer libraries will receive donations from the group’s remaining funds.
“We have just over $1,000 to give away,” said Bob.
Although the group is in the process of disbanding, several members have expressed their desire to continue meeting as a group.
“There are still 10 or more of us who felt really bad about it, so when we met at the Olive Garden a few days ago and voted to disband, we decided to move on” , said Bob. “We don’t know what name we will take, but we will go about it very informally.”
Although the remaining members have not determined the format for the future, some ideas include people showing Ted Talks in their homes or meeting at the library in Lakewood, where the fortnight has met before.
“We try to continue but in a very informal way”, said Bob.