Agricultural Engineering Women's Club

During her husband's tenure at Iowa State (1910-1946), Jennie Baldridge Davidson, wife of Agricultural Engineering Department Head Jay Brownlee Davidson, started the Agricultural Engineering Women’s Club. She wanted “to provide an opportunity through sponsored social events for members of the club to become acquainted and form genuine friendships.”   Any woman connected to the department could join.   Members gathered informally on Wednesday afternoons for a brownbag lunch and sometimes card games.  Members with children would bring them along each week.   

When Mr. Davidsons retired from ISU in 1946, Cooney Beresford, the wife of the new Agricultural Engineering Head Hobart Beresford, took over Mrs. Davidson’s role in the club and made it more structured with more planned events.  They even started meeting once a  month in the evenings, so the women could “have a break from their children.”

The Student Wives group splintered off in 1948 but eventually merged back with the women’s club. The student wives learned from the faculty wives what life would be like married to an Agricultural Engineer, even if their husbands would pursue jobs in the business world.  Mrs. Beresford believed that, after graduation “Certain obligations would have to be met and she wanted (the women) to be prepared.  She coached them about social graces when she saw the need.  Also by working together here they established ties which helped when they met again in new surroundings.”

The club lasted all the way into the 21st century and, just as Jennie Baldridge wanted, has built lasting friendships and bonds for the women who have been a part of it.