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Jersey City Past and Present: 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 literary club known as the Odd Volumes Women's Club is one of the oldest of the federated women's clubs in New Jersey and was a charter member of the New Jersey State Federation of Women's Clubs. Cecilia Gaines (Holland) organized the study group to bring women together in their common pursuit of cultural and educational interests in October 1887. 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 was not opened 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. Members were assigned topics by the program committee and the members 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 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 were varied and changed over the years. They ranged from poetry, biography, philosophy, religion, and history to housing and local concerns.

The popularity of the Odd Volumes and the limit to its membership affected the founding of another women's organization, the Woman's Club of Jersey City. It was founded by Mrs. A. J. Newberry with Cecelia Gaines (Holland) as its first president. Other women's clubs founded at the time were the Aesthetic Club, Cosmos Club and Ramblers.Today the members hold an annual luncheon called "Play Day" that replaces the original annual gathering known as the "Club Breakfast." Topics of historic and current interest spur the interest of its members to maintain the long-running cultural organization.

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.