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Northern District History

In November 1919, Mrs. Henry Parker, President, Virginia Federation of Women's Clubs, called a meeting for the Board of  Directors as an aid to our organizational progress. From this meeting three Districts were formed: Southwestern, with 26 federated clubs; Southeastern, with 41 federated clubs, and Northern, with 15 federated clubs. 

In 1924 VFWC increased to six Districts. Originally referred to as the 4th District, Northern held its first meeting in Winchester. Mrs. Joseph Crupper of the Falls Church Club presided over the meeting in which 9 federated clubs and 17 counties were represented. Leaders were called Chairmen and served as Vice Presidents of VFWC until 1929 when they were made Presidents of the Districts and Junior Directors of Districts were made 3rd Vice Presidents. 

In 1930 a 7th District was formed and in 1952 the 8th District was formed and names were chosen for each of the Districts. The 1st District became Southwestern; 2nd, Shenandoah; 3rd, Alice Kyle; 4th, Northern; 5th, Lee; 6th, Tidewater; 7th, Southside, and 8th, Blue Ridge.

Encompassing the 14 northernmost counties of the state, there are currently 23 general clubs and 3 junior clubs in the Northern District with a paid membership of over 1,000.

The District Shield, designed by Jane Woodruff Kearns of the Woman’s Club of Culpeper, was adopted in 1970. It signifies the six GFWC departments: Arts, a palette and brushes; Conservation, a hand holding a dogwood blossom; Education, the lamp of knowledge; Home Life/Health, a spool of thread; International Outreach, a world globe; and Public Issues, a gavel. The "N" is for Northern District and the arrow is always pointing north. The blue signifies loyalty and truth while the gold is for generosity. The Latin inscription means "From Diversity, Strength". A banner with the shield was made by the Junior Woman’s Club of Manassas for use at District functions and in 2004, a professional banner was designed. During the 1976-78 administration of Mrs. Dorothy Burton, a contest was held to write lyrics for a District Song. Mrs. Marcy Morris (Woman’s Club of King George) won the contest with her lyrics “You Gotta Have Pep” adapted to “Heart” from Damn Yankees.

Traditionally the District adopts a project each administration. Many times the District has adopted the State Project and in 1972 led all districts in its contributions and support of the Mental Health Foundation. Other projects supported include: a District scholarship; a transport van for the National Kidney Foundation; "60 trees by 60 clubs for 60 years" in celebration of Northern District's 60th anniversary in 1984; the purchase of a robotic D.A.R.E. Bear; focus on women’s health issues including “Life with Cancer”; raising funds to purchase livestock through Heifer International; restoring the garden at GFWC headquarters in 2005 (a project originally initiated in 1966); and most recently during the 2008-2010 administration, supported the State Project to purchase an ambulance for the EMT Unit of Virginia Tech University with the highest contributions of any district (over $18,000).

Northern District Juniors continue their support of the ongoing State Junior Projects as well as general club projects with donations of medical, recreational, and administration support for many organizations.

In 2008, the GFWC Dominion Sisterhood Juniorette Club was chartered in Haymarket. This was the first student-oriented organization for Northern District.

Earning state awards in all departments and special programs is not uncommon for Northern District clubs. However several clubs have received GFWC recognition for outstanding efforts in their communities. In 1982 the Woman’s Club of Fredericksburg won the second place national award for their Community Improvement Project entry "Stroke Club" in which they helped area residents adjust to life after a stroke. At the 2001 convention in St. Paul, Minnesota the Oakton Woman’s Club received an award for their "Libraries 2000" contribution, recognizing this club's efforts in bringing a library to the Oakton community. In 2009, the GFWC Dominion Woman’s Club was awarded first place in the Special Projects Category. Mrs. Lori Rocker, GFWC Virginia 3rd Vice President, Director of Junior Clubs (2008-2010) was named Junior Director of the Year. At the 2012 GFWC Convention, seven Virginia clubs received Club Awards, and six of these clubs were from the Northern District.

The District hosted its first State Convention at the Sheraton Park Hotel (formerly known as the Wardman Park) in Washington, D.C. in 1941. Northern District at that time had no facility large enough to hold the convention. Since that time, the facilities in Northern District have grown and the District now hosts the convention or conference every four years.

Prior to the formation of numbered Districts two club women from this area did serve as VFWC President: Mrs. Helen Norris Cummings, 1915-1917 who was a member of the Cameron Woman's Club, Alexandria; and Mrs. Henry Lockwood 1921-1923 of the Clarendon Woman's Club. Since then, four Northern District members have served the Virginia Federation as President: Mrs. J. York Welborn (Grace) 1960- 1962; Mrs. James B. Roberts (Phyllis) 1970-1972; Mrs. John O. Gregory (Angela) 1976- 1978; and Mrs. Joseph A. Wintz III (Leigh) 2000-2002. Three District Junior Directors have served as 3rd Vice President, Director of Junior Clubs, at the state level; Mrs. Donald Warren (Faye) 1972-1974; Mrs. Joseph A. Wintz III (Leigh) 1982-1984; and Mrs. Matt Rocker (Lori) 2008-2010.

Phyllis Roberts, Past President of Northern District and the Virginia Federation served as the GFWC International President from 1986-1988. Mrs. Roberts is one of three ladies from Virginia to serve in this office in the 114 years of Federation history. The first to serve was Mrs. J.L. Blair Buck (Dorothea) who served from 1947 - 1950, and the most recent Mrs. Leslie Hamlett (Shelby) 2000-2002.

Northern District continually strives to create ways to support member clubs and help new clubs to form and prosper. Our members continue to dedicate and volunteer their time and talents to promote the civic and cultural welfare of their communities while sharing Federation fellowship.