Journalist Jane Cunningham Croly was not only a pioneer in her career in journalism but was the founder and driving force behind the American women’s club movement. In 1869, a chance occurrence sent her on an additional career path. As a female journalist, she was not allowed to join her male counterparts in listening to a lecture from the great novelist, Charles Dickens. Out of this disappointment, she organized a women’s club called Sorosis. Croly sought to make a place where women could engage in free and frank discussion on various topics. As traditional avenues of education were reserved for men, Croly sought to create a place where women could engage in free and frank discussions on any topic. And in 1890, Croly formed the General Federation of Women’s Clubs in 1890.

Not surprisingly, Jane Croly encountered many obstacles to her chosen career in journalism. However, in 1856, she married David Croly, who worked for the New York Herald, and that somewhat eased her way in her career choice and helped Jane to get her foot in the door for other jobs in journalism.

Her writing jobs included a 10-year stint at the New York Herald and many years at the Demorest’s Monthly Magazine. She became the first woman nationally-syndicated columnist, and used the pen name “Jennie June.”

Jane’s domestic responsibilities, including the raising of 3 children, and her salaried responsibilities required long long hours. Yet she was confident in her belief that women who wanted to do both needed to ensure that they took care of their domestic sphere first. As proof of this conviction, she published Jennie June’s American Cookery Book. More than just a cook book, it was a guide for women to create a well-ordered home life through planning and efficiency.

Through her first club, Sorosis, Jane sought to make a place where women could engage in free and frank discussion on many topics. Her persistence eventually resulted in the formation of The General Federation of Women’s Clubs, in 1890. She held steadfast to her beliefs that women needed not only more educational opportunities but the opportunities for advancement. The cry of the woman emerging from a darkened past was “light, more light” and light was breaking.

Sources: Patrick Hattman, Yahoo Contributor Network