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Odd Volumes Women's Club: Odd Volumes

Odd Volumes - Images

Cecilia Gaines Holland

Source: New Jersey State Federation of Women's Clubs

Location: Five Corners Branch, JCFPL

Odd Volumes

Odd Volumes Women's Club

The Odd Volumes Women's Club, a literary club, was one of New Jersey's oldest federated women's clubs and was a charter member of the New Jersey State Federation of Women's Clubs. In October 1887, Cecilia Gaines Holland organized the study group to unite women in their cultural and educational interests and became its president. The name for the club came from two societies by that name in London and Boston that concentrated on the study of rare and classical works.

The impetus for the club came from the absence of a public library in Jersey City that did not open until 1891. The women exchanged books that they purchased and discussed them at their meetings. The club membership, limited to thirty-five, was by invitation. The program committee assigned topics to the members who wrote reports for presentation and discussion.

In the 1940s, the members of the Odd Volumes began a "memorial bookshelf" at the Five Corners Branch Library in Jersey City. They donated a book to the library in the name of each of its deceased members. Among the books are rare ancient, classical, and modern works.

Summaries of the discussions at the club meetings were recorded over the years. In 1987, at the time of the club's centenary anniversary, "The Record of the Odd Volumes" was presented to the New Jersey Room of the Main Branch of the Jersey City Free Public Library for its collection and preservation. The topics among the many reports varied and changed over the years. They ranged from poetry, biography, philosophy, religion, and history to housing and local concerns.

The popularity of Odd Volumes and its limited membership helped launch the establishment of the Woman's Club of Jersey City. Mrs. A. J. Newberry founded the Woman's Club, and Cecelia Holland became its first president. Holland was also the second president of the NJ State Federation of Women's Clubs (1897-1899) and a member of the Barnard Club of NJ, among other organizations. Holland supported women's suffrage, founding kindergartens, and saving the Palisades while she was a commissioner on the State Charity Board.

The members held an annual luncheon called "Play Day" that replaced the yearly "Club Breakfast" gathering. The members' interests in current and historic topics contributed to the longevity of the long-running cultural organization.

Other Jersey City women's clubs at the time were the Aesthetic Club, Cosmos Club, and Ramblers.

Odd Volumes - References

Adams, Joyce. "130 Years, and Counting, for Odd Volumes."  ​Jersey Journal 8 March 2018.
Eaton, Harriet Phillips. Jersey City and Its Historic Sites. Jersey City, NJ: Woman's Club of Jersey City, 1899.
McLean, Alexander. The History of Jersey City, N.J. Jersey City, NJ: F.T. Smiley and Co., 1895.
Odd Volumes Women's Club., "The Record of the Odd Volumes." Joan D. Lovero Collection, New Jersey Room, Jersey City Free Public Library.