I was doing some research on one of my maternal lines. I came across a death certificate for my Great Aunt Frankie, who died June 30, 1933 of tuberculosis. Tuberculosis (TB) or consumption is a bacterial condition that usually affects the lungs. I reviewed the document and the names of the parents lined up, as well as the location of the birth. As I was reviewing the location of death I saw, “Women’s Improvement Club” 535 Agnes Street. I found that curious. I had never heard of that club before.
After an internet search I came across a wonderful YouTube video of an interview conducted with Wilma Gibbs Moore, Archivist, Historian & Librarian (Indiana Historical Society) concerning the Women’s Improvement Club of Indianapolis and it’s importance to the African American Community. To watch that interview click on the following link. Women’s Improvement Club
Frankie lived in Brightwood at the time so this would have been close to her home. According to my research individuals who suffered from TB were removed from their homes so that others would not become ill. The treatment for TB in the 1930’s was fresh air and protein to build up their immune system. If that was not successful sometimes portions of the lung were removed.
The Woman’s Improvement Club (WIC) was established in Indianapolis in 1903. According to its constitution, the purpose of the organization was “mutual improvement of its members, the care of tubercular persons, and all other uplift work.” The organization was especially active in the care of local black tuberculosis patients, establishing an outdoor camp at Oak Hill in the Brightwood area in 1905. Founded by Indianapolis journalist and elocutionist, Lillian Thomas Fox, the club’s early roster boasted the names of community activists, Ida Webb Bryant, Ada Harris, Rose D.
Hummons, and Beulah Wright Porter. The WIC was a life member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored
Sources: Materials in the collection.
Ferguson, Earline R., “The Woman’s Improvement Club of Indianapolis: Black Women Pioneers in Tuberculosis Work, 1903-1938,” Indiana Magazine of History, September, 1988.
Genealogy is more than just birth and death dates. It’s fleshing the person out, so to speak to really share what their lives were like and how they impacted them and their families.
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