About the Nineteenth Century - A Short History

Established in 1891 by a group of visionary women who realized that charitable activities, education and civic involvement were essential elements in building a community, the Nineteenth Century Club has been a leader in providing opportunities for women and in developing support systems for families within the community. Upon its incorporation in 1909, the Club adopted as its purpose “the intellectual advancement of its members, the promotion of higher social, educational and moral conditions in the community, and a united effort toward the higher development of humanity”. The organization continues to follow the vision of the founders with membership that welcomes all men and women.

In 2010 the Club founded a new organization, The Nineteenth Century Charitable Association, a not-for-profit with a 501(c)(3) federal tax designation, to further its charitable missions. Also in 2010, returning to the spirit of our founders, the Club revised its Motto to more clearly define our reason for being: Learning and Giving: Our Focus. In 2014, the motto became Strengthening Our Community Through Learning.t only the current tag line?

Our founders were active in campaigning for women's rights. They initiated many local organizations such as traveling libraries, day care (including founding the Oak Park-River Forest Day Nursery), the local mental health organization now known as THRIVE Counseling Center, and other early local women's organizations that led to such groups as the League of Women Voters and the Infant Welfare Society.

For many years, we have provided donations to social service agencies in the community. We have sewn and knitted garments for children, premature infants, soldiers, and those in need from national disasters. We have offered a wide range of cultural and educational programs that promote learning. As part of our mission to be a welcoming center for charitable activities, we are open to sharing our building for meeting space with other local not-for-profits on a regular or occasional basis.

We have welcomed to our shared meeting space, the League of Women Voters of Oak Park-River Forest; the Women's Guild of Oak Park; Future Philanthropists of Oak Park; the Chicago Folks Operetta; OPALGA (Oak Park Area Lesbian and Gay Association); Children's Wonderworks Museum; Oak-Leyden Services, the OPRF Chamber of Commerce; English Country Dancing for Scholarships; PADS (Public Action to Deliver Shelter); the Village of Oak Park and many other not-for-profits for meetings, performances, benefits and recognition events.

The organization is led by the members of the Board of Directors who are elected by the members. The board and members are active volunteers who organize and/or present many activities during the year. Learn more about some of the ways our volunteer members support the organization.