Project Launch — 2008

Strong Women Building Strong Communities

Note: This article appeared in the Winter 2009 newsletter

Sunday, November 2, was a great day all around for the Smith Club of Minnesota. More than 100 local alums spanning classes from 1934 through 2008, guests, and prospective students joined Smith President Carol Christ at The Metropolitan for the culmination of phase 1 of our oral history project, the book Strong Women Building Strong Communities. Its publication follows more than a year of work by scores of club members behind the scenes. Sixteen alumnae were interviewed for the book; honorees in attendance were Helen Anderson (’44), Virginia Humphrey (’42), Helen Kramer (’34), Ann Pflaum (’63), Sally Pillsbury (’46), Joanne Von Blon (’45), and Molly Woehrlin (’53).

More than 100 copies of the book had been preordered, and another 100 have been sold to date. President Christ purchased copies for each member of the Smith Board of Trustees, and Cecily Hines, a member of the Alumnae Association board, reports that a copy was passed around at their recent semiannual meeting, as Meri Hoverman, Alumnae Association staffer who attended the Minnesota event with President Christ, “sang its praises.”

Attendees at the event enjoyed mingling with President Christ and Smith friends on the veranda. We then moved to the ballroom for a light dinner and decadent dessert catered by D’Amico. The program featured a welcome and introduction by club president Laurie Kramer, followed by a presentation complete with fascinating photos and tidbits from the book given by Laurie, Betsey Whitbeck, Marty Swain, Kate Lehmann, Jane Howard, and Mary Gover.

After the program, President Christ spoke and gave a hearty endorsement of our club’s project. “This has been profoundly moving,” she said as an introduction. “I feel I’ve had a privileged perspective on the histories of women in the 20th and now 21st centuries, and this project in a rich way does it even better, telling stories of these remarkable women.”

The event was recorded by videographer Steve Date of (founded by Laurie and husband Joel Kramer). Steve’s excellent work can be seen by going to to the MinnPost site.

A generous gift to the club from alumna Paula Vesely (’59), earmarked for support of a program other than the scholarship fund, was allocated by the club’s executive committee to help support the oral history project. Many thanks to Paula.

The next phase of the oral history project is under discussion. If you would like to participate as an interviewee, interviewer, or in one of the many production jobs, please contact one of the officers. And if you have skills as a transcriber, please advise!  ›

NOTE: There are still a few copies of the 1st Oral History book available, and now we have a second, launched in May of 2012. Order yours by contacting Barbara Klaas using the contact form. Your book(s) will be keepsakes forever.

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