In 1924, a group of faculty wives, Stanford alumnae and mothers who were interested in the welfare of Stanford students met with the support of the University and formed the Mothers’ Club of Stanford University. They wrote into their by-laws the three-fold objective that still exists today: “to bring together its members in social and intellectual exchange, to keep in close touch with the University life and, in all practicable ways, aid the University authorities in promoting the welfare of the student body.”
Lecture Series and Service
To realize these objectives, the club initiated a signature Stanford lecture series that is still offered today. Early participants who provided much excitement and dialogue included such famous names as Pop Warner and Mrs. Herbert Hoover. Equally important, having identified critical needs of students in the areas of financial resources and health care, the club immediately started a student loan fund and set up a scholarship which was to be one of many offered to Stanford students. That first year, a spring garden party and a fall bridge tea with admission fees of 50 cents were held as fundraisers, earning a total of $250.00! Club members provided accommodations for visiting mothers, gave Christmas parties for students who couldn’t go home for the holidays, and set up a “wardrobe” shop where students could buy used clothing.
Supporting Student Health
However, the Mothers’ Club’s biggest challenge was solving the pressing need to find a place where students could stay while recuperating from illness. After two years of taking convalescing students into their homes, club members decided to provide and fund a Men’s and a Women’s Rest Home for students requiring care but not hospitalization. The Mothers’ Club completely supported these Rest Homes for 35 years, maintaining the buildings, furnishings, and gardens, and spending many hours painting, sewing and scrubbing. When Cowell Student Health Center was completed in 1962, the Stanford Mothers’ Club deeded the Rest Homes to the University and their furnishings were distributed throughout the campus. As a token of gratitude, the University donated a scholarship in the club’s name. The Stanford Mothers’ Club voted to provide additional funds to furnish the new center’s main reception area, waiting alcoves, and four study lounges. Today the club still maintains a supporting tie with Stanford student health facilities, making available development funds for the Student Health Library and other resources.
Fundraisers to support the important services that the club has offered have changed in character over the years. The early spring garden party ended during the World War II, as all volunteers were needed in the war effort. Thus the imaginary Phantom Party was born, and in many new annual guises it remained a hugely successful non-event! The early bridge teas became the gracious Chrysanthemum Tea and fashion show, which evolved in the 70’s into the lively Chrysanthemum Champagne Party with the Stanford Band providing the music and the football team acting as models. A fabulous Boutique was added in the Club’s Golden Anniversary year, and more recently, a beautiful Auction and Dinner was a much anticipated, highly successful event. Each year the club sponsors the annual Entertainment Extravaganza! of spectacular student talent during Parents’ Weekend in February. As well, the club hosts events, provides parent ambassadors, and offers parent-to-parent workshops during New Student Orientation.
The personal outreach to students carried out for many years by club volunteers who prepared lunch for students at the Bechtel International Center, continues today as members invite students into their homes for Thanksgiving dinner, provide Christmas cookies to students who spend their holidays on campus and deliver special cakes, flowers, balloons, and plants for birthdays and other important occasions. Club volunteers make over a thousand deliveries during each nine-month academic year.
There have been other club ventures, such as the World Travel Tours sponsored in the 60’s, and a gourmet cookbook and Stanford logo tee-shirts, jewelry, and other merchandise offered for sale at big Stanford events today. Throughout its history, the club has funded scholarships each year while building the endowment in the Parents’ Club Scholarship Fund. In 80 years of active fundraising, the club has granted well over one million dollars in scholarships to undergraduate students at Stanford.
A New Name
In 1997, the Mothers’ Club adopted a new name, the Parents’ Club of Stanford University, reflecting the group’s desire to actively include and welcome all parents in its programs and activities. Extensive records of the club’s history are kept in the University Archives and provide much fascinating detail of this truly unique resident organization. Please join us as we continue to offer fascinating, thought-provoking programs and continuous outreach and service to Stanford and its students and parents.