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Moore, Eva Perryfree

(24 July 1852–28 April 1931)
  • Karen J. Blair

Moore, Eva Perry (24 July 1852–28 April 1931), women's club leader, women’s club leader, was born in Rockford, Illinois, the daughter of Seely Perry, occupation unknown, and Elizabeth Benedict. She attended Vassar College, graduating in 1873, and traveled in Europe for three years. In 1879 she married Philip North Moore, a mining engineer, to whom she was married for fifty-one years, until his death in 1930. They had two children. Her husband’s work caused the family to move around the country for ten years, until they settled in St. Louis in 1889. There, Moore distinguished herself in local women’s organizational efforts and climbed to statewide and national leadership roles.

She was a charter member of the Wednesday Club, a women’s literary society, in 1890 and its president from 1892 to 1894. As president of the Missouri Federation of Women’s Clubs (1901–1905), she organized local arrangements for the St. Louis Biennial Conference of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs in 1904. She had a lifelong interest in music and served as president of the St. Louis Music Club (1892–1903), vice president of the budding National Federation of Music Clubs (1901–1903), and vice president of the St. Louis Symphony Society until 1918. In the arena of education, she served as a trustee of Vassar College (1900–1908) and president of the Association of Collegiate Alumnae (1903–1907), which later became the American Association of University Women. She also devoted considerable volunteer effort to social service causes, holding office in the St. Louis Provident Association, the Visiting Nurse Association, the Missouri Tuberculosis Society, and the National Society for Organizing and Advising Charities.

Moore rose to national prominence in the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, holding several offices: corresponding secretary (1894–1898), treasurer (1898–1900), vice president (1904–1908), and finally president (1908–1912). As president, she traveled 75,000 miles, meeting with many American and Panama Canal Zone clubwomen in the organization of two million members. Among the civic goals she addressed during her administration were vocational education in public schools, workmen’s compensation, safety for factory and mine workers, peace, prevention of white slave traffic, conservation, establishment of a department of education and a department of health, creation of a federal bureau of national parks and of a children’s bureau, cleaner journalism, a pure-food law, agricultural extension programs, good roads, roadside planting, an employers’ liability bill, women as police and immigration officers, hygiene in public schools, uniform marriage laws, and birth registration.

She quickly moved to the presidency of the largest organization of American women, the National Council of Women, an alliance of thirty-six national organizations, including the General Federation. She served from 1914 to 1925, hosting the international meetings of forty national networks in Washington, D.C. She was vice president of the International Council of Women from 1920 to 1930, traveling around the world to attend many of its meetings.

During World War I, she went to Washington, D.C., as secretary of the Women’s Committee of the Council of National Defense (1917–1919). In 1919 she traveled with President Woodrow Wilson, campaigning on behalf of the League of Nations. She was a member of the Executive Committee of the League of Nations Non-Partisan Association (1923–1931) and the International Commission of the Pan-American Scientific Congress in Peru (1924) and Costa Rica (1930).

She died in St. Louis three days after returning from the Vienna conference of the International Council of Women, where she was awarded an honorary vice-presidency for life. Widely respected for her modest demeanor, zeal for service, upstanding character, and leadership abilities, Moore held more high offices in major women’s voluntary organizations than any twentieth-century woman. She devoted herself to a public life of organizing women for social reform.

Bibliography

Biography files can be found at General Federation of Women’s Clubs headquarters in Washington, D.C., and at the Missouri Historical Society in St. Louis. The latter owns useful women’s club scrapbooks as well. See also “Federation Matriarch Active Today,” General Federation News, Dec. 1929, pp. 15–24. Obituaries are in Clubwoman, July 1931, pp. 9, 26, and Missouri Clubwoman, June 1931, p. 5.