Founded in 1897
The National League of American Pen Women, Inc. (NLAPW) was founded in 1897 when women journalists were not permitted to join the National Press Club. The League became a professional organization for women writers, artists and composers, where they could be recognized for their talents.
Pen Women History. The first meeting of The League of American Pen Women was organized by Marian Longfellow O’Donoghue (yes, Henry’s niece), who wrote for newspapers in Washington D.C. and Boston. She invited fellow journalists Margaret Sullivan Burke and Anna Sanborn Hamilton to join her in establishing a “progressive press union” for the female writers of Washington.
Other famous women artists who have been members of the organization include Grandma Moses and Georgia O’Keefe. Many other well-known women who have been and are members of the organization include Pearl S. Buck, Eleanor Roosevelt, Maya Angelo, Mary McCleod Bethune, Rosalyn Carter, and Hillary Clinton, to name a few.
Vinnie Ream. One of the earliest members of the organization was sculptress Vinnie Ream. In an era when women artists were not considered important, young Vinnie earned permission to sculpt a bust of President Abraham Lincoln while he worked at his desk in the White House. In 1866 after Lincoln’s assassination, at age 18 she won the Congressional commission to carve the life-size marble statue of Abraham Lincoln that stands in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol.
The Pen Arts Building and Art Museum. The Pen Arts Building and Art Museum is a historic building, a house once occupied by Robert Todd Lincoln, President Lincoln’s oldest son. The art museum displays works by women artists through permanent and temporary art exhibits, and houses a library archiving the creative works of NLAPW members.
Looking forward: The 2018 Biennial Conference
Women in the arts and in education
The Pen Arts Building and Art Museum, is open to the public on a regular basis, and free formal tours of the art exhibits are offered two days a week from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.
Pen Arts is a wonderful setting for concerts and recitals, educational seminars and publishing activities, all of which serve to promote women artists and their writer and composer colleagues.
The mission statement of the NLAPW:
“’The Mission of the League, a not-for-profit 501 (c) (3) corporation, is to encourage, recognize, and promote the production of creative work of professional standard in Art, Letters, and Music, and through outreach activities provide educational, creative, and professional support to members and non-members in these disciplines.’ The core values of the NLAPW are respect, knowledge, creation and preservation of the arts.”
Our non-discrimination policy:
[We continue] to seek a diverse membership and leadership with no barriers to full participation on the basis of age, race, creed, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, or class.
Our members are journalists, painters, choreographers, sculptors, illustrators, songwriters, poets — just to mention a few of the creative fields we encompass.
Throughout the NLAPW’s 120-year history, active NLAPW members, such as Vinnie Ream, Eudora Welty, Pearl Buck, Eleanor Roosevelt, Amy Beach and Carrie Jacobs Bond, have illustrated how deep, strong and meaningful the contribution of women’s voices, minds and hands are to the arts.
Today, the NLAPW has 81 branches in 35 states and many members-at-large. There are over 1,600 professional women artists, writers, composers, and choreographer members of the League, some in large cities such as New York, Atlanta, the San Francisco Bay area, and Honolulu, and others in rural areas, such as Vermont, the Dakotas and in Hawaii. From Mississippi Delta public schools to Boca Raton women’s correctional facilities, from Hawaii’s Girls Court to after-school centers in Washington, D.C., Pen Women have experienced first-hand the personal enrichment that comes from arts engagement.
The NLAPW offers Membership-at-Large (MAL) opportunities, providing women artists in remote areas full membership benefits, as well as associate and student memberships.
See How to Join.