Pen Arts Building, Washington, D.C.
On a humid Saturday evening in June of 1897, William McKinley enjoyed a quiet dinner at the White House. Three months earlier, he had declared in his inaugural address that, “…equality of rights must prevail.” A few blocks away on Rhode Island Avenue were seventeen women to whom those words rang hollow. It was not the vote, however, that occupied these ladies, but problems peculiar to “the writer’s craft:” libel and copyright laws, plagiarism and the inequality with which professionals of “the fair sex” were treated by their male counterparts.
This first meeting of The League of American Pen Women was organized by Marian Longfellow O’Donoghue (yes, Henry’s niece), who wrote for newspapers in Washington DC and Boston. She invited fellow journalists to join her in establishing a “progressive press union” for the female writers of Washington.
Professional credentials were required for membership, and the ladies determined that Pen Women should always be paid for their work. Artists and composers were welcomed by their literary sisters. By September of 1898, the League boasted over fifty members.
Pen Women of this millennium are stewards of the legacy of those seventeen progressive pioneers. As of today, over 55,000 writers, artists and musicians have been proud to call themselves Pen Women.
The Palm Springs Branch of NLAPW was founded on February 23, 1958 . Then, as now, the objective of the branch is to conduct, promote and encourage creative and educational activities in Art, Letters and Music.