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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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North Carolina Sorosis

by Barbara Rowe, 2006

North Carolina Sorosis, organized in Wilmington on 4 Dec. 1895, was the first federated woman's club in North Carolina. Begun by 15 community-minded women, the organization's name comes from the well-known New York woman's club, Sorosis, a Greek word that means a cluster of flowers on one stem. Highlighting the group's endeavors was a circulating library begun in 1897. The original collection and a 1906 donation of 1,700 books formed the nucleus of the present New Hanover County Public Library. In the early 1900s, North Carolina Sorosis actively promoted better sanitary conditions-assisting housewives in complying with city sanitary ordinances, promoting the use of garbage cans with lids, and protesting the use of the common drinking cup found at every neighborhood water pump. Members helped organize the">Young Women's Christian Association in 1913 and in the early 1920s began a night school for the residents of the Delgado Mill community. In 1925 Sorosis was instrumental in the city of Wilmington's purchase of Greenfield Lake as a recreational park.

Sorosis members were committed to home front activities during both world wars, selling war bonds, making bandages, and canning fruit. In the 1950s Sorosis first awarded a scholarship for a girl to attend Wilmington College and financially assisted Girls Club (today known as Girls, Inc.). The organization, with its younger associates, Junior Sorosis, looking on, celebrated its 100th anniversary on 21 May 1995.


Gertrude Jenkins Howell, A History of the North Carolina Sorosis, 1895-1957 (1957).

Additional Resources:

North Carolina Sorosis official website:

"North Carolina Sorosis." North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program.

Tetterton, Beverly; Owens, P. and Paynter, David M. "A Determined Group of Women."  Century of Stories: New Hanover County Public Library 1906-2006. New Hanover County Public Library. 2006. p. 2. (accessed September 4, 2012).

North Carolina Clubwoman (September 1971)

Sallie Southall Cotten, History of the North Carolina Federation of Women’s Clubs (1925)

Margaret S. Smith and Emily H. Wilson, North Carolina Women Making History (1999)

Goldfield, David R. "North Carolina's Early Twentieth-Century Suburbs and the Urbanizing South."    Early twentieth-century suburbs in North Carolina: essays on history, architecture and planning. Raleigh [N.C.]: Archaeology and Historic Preservation Section, Division of Archives and History, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, 1985. p.9.  (accessed September 4, 2012).


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