After it was all over, the perspiring lost & found committee measured its take: 50 pairs of gloves, dozens of handkerchiefs, four coats, five umbrellas, a Shriner's button. It was not excessive, considering the number of women (3,000) and the length of their stay (five days).

It had been a long, tiring, but fascinating week. Every morning the delegates rose briskly at seven, descended to the basement coffee shop of Chicago's Stevens Hotel. Promptly at nine the meetings began. For its 55th annual convention, the General Federation of Women's Clubs had prepared a gruelling agenda.

They listened approvingly to...

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