About the NLAPW

General organization overview: All About the NLAPW

The National League of American Pen Women, Inc. (NLAPW) was founded in 1897. The arts organization is headquartered in The Pen Arts Building and Art Museum in the DuPont Circle of Washington, D.C.

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. The building 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.

Pen Arts in Bloom

Pen Arts in Bloom

The Pen Arts Building and Art Museum is open to the public Monday through Friday. Free formal tours of the art exhibits are offered during open hours, as well as on the weekend by appointment.

One of the earliest members of the organization was sculptress Vinnie Ream. In an erapen-arts-open-house_dscn5785 when women artists were not considered important, she, nevertheless, won the Congressional commission in 1866 at age 18 to carve the marble statue of Abraham Lincoln that stands in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol. She made a bust of Lincoln, working with him in the White House before his assassination, and used it as the basis for the statue after his death.

See Pen Women History.

Other famous women artists who have been members of the organization include Grandma Moses and Georgia O’Keeffe. Many other well-known women who have been and are members of the organization include Pearl S. Buck, Eleanor Roosevelt, Maya Angelou, Rosalyn Carter, and Hillary Clinton, to name a few.

Click here to find out more about membership in Pen Women or go directly to How to Join.

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.

Founded in 1897

When the National League of American Pen Women, Inc. was founded in 1897, women journalists were not permitted to join the male-only professional organizations. Few women artists or composers were recognized for their talents.

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.

New members at the Pensacola Florida Branch

See How to Join.

The Pen Woman magazine






The NLAPW publishes a nationally-distributed quarterly magazine, The Pen Woman, which includes features, poetry, and artwork by members from all over the country and maintains this Web site (www.nlapw.org).

Pen Women Press offers lower-cost publishing services for NLAPW members. 

Dining Room

Stay at the historic Pen Arts Building in Washington, D.C.

The NLAPW National Headquarters, in the Pen Arts Building and Art Museum, is a home away from home for traveling Pen Women members. It is a venue where members provide art, music and letters presentations for the enjoyment of the public, and to serve the local community in Washington, D.C.