Susan, Grace, and Me
May 19, 2014 § 3 Comments
Once more I am following in Susan’s footsteps. I have been asked to give a presentation next week at Grace Lutheran Church where I am a member. Coincidentally, I discovered that Susan gave several programs at Grace in the latter years of the 19th century.
The current building at Seventh and Capitol Streets in Springfield was dedicated in 1893. Because of its many modern conveniences, the 400 seat “lecture hall” adjoining the sanctuary was used by many community organizations. Among those was the Woman’s Club of Springfield formed in 1894. Susan (then Mrs. E. W. Dana) was a charter and very active member of the Club. In Chapter Three of Susan Lawrence, The Enigma in the Wright House I describe her involvement:
[She] designed the member pin, chose the organizational colors (pink and green) and flower (rose), and wrote the motto: “There is no knowledge that is not power.” She served in several leadership positions. As chair of the Art Department, she developed programming in which she, other members, or guests delivered papers on various art related topics which ranged from the aesthetic (“Ancient Art”) to the practical (“ How to Hang a Picture”).
Evidently Susan frequently presented lectures at meetings of the entire Club and Departments other than the Art Department. One presentation was documented in the January 3, 1896, Illinois State Register and the Woman’s Club Minutes. The newspaper announced: “The Home and Domestic Department of the Woman’s Club will meet this afternoon at Grace Lutheran Church at 2:30 pm. The church will be heated.” The general topic was “Our Children,” and Susan spoke on “Children in the Home.” The Woman’s Club Minutes recorded this summary of Susan’s remarks:
[Susan] told how often mothers in attempting to show love for their children made slaves of themselves,–and tyrants of the little ones. They should be taught self-control and to respect the rights of others–Every child has a right to a happy childhood and the mother must often sacrifice her personal feeling. She concluded by saying that a truly loving mother, must love all childhood.
Since Susan had no children, one can only imagine the negative reactions of the mothers in her audience. I feel confident that when I speak in the same space where Susan presented, my audience will be more receptive because my topic will be “Susan Lawrence Dana and Grace Lutheran Church.”