When hundreds of independent Republican women's clubs banded together as a Federation in 1938, they adopted political education as one of the fledgling organization's primary objectives.
Founder Marion E. Martin set the stage at the first Federation meeting in Chicago: "The reasons for the clubs coming into being originally are twofold -- first, in response to the need that women feel for political education; second, as an avenue of expression of their loyalty to the Republican Party."
Providing education opportunities for Republican women quickly became the priority of the organization, and each of the Federation's presidents did her part to nurture this commitment. President Peggy Greene of Massachusetts traveled extensively throughout the states from 1947 to 1948 developing and training women leaders in practical political techniques. Elizabeth Farrington of Hawaii, president from 1949 to 1952, was influential in the establishment of the School of Politics, organized for the Republican National Committee.
Initiated during Coloradoan Ruth Parks' administration from 1961 to 1962, the Service Committee on Republican Education (SCORE) program distributed educational materials to clubs on a monthly basis. During the late 1960s, President Gladys O'Donnell of California blanketed the states with workshop programs and oversaw the compilation of training manuals on techniques for campaigning, fundraising and leadership development.
Betty Heitman of Louisiana, who served as president from 1978 to 1980, founded the NFRW Campaign Management School, which has trained thousands of Republicans for leadership roles in GOP campaigns. She also established the NFRW Polling School, which trained volunteers to conduct political polls for state and local Republican candidates. Judy Hughes of Colorado, NFRW president from 1986 to 1989, took the Polling School on the road. She also enacted a leadership seminar that encompassed a wide range of training programs.
Tens of thousands of members strong today, the National Federation of Republican Women is still building its legacy as the "education arm" of the Republican Party. At our last biennial convention, a series of leadership seminars, and political and policy workshops -- taught by well-known and respected experts -- helped equip and prepare Republican women activists for this political season and beyond. Attendees returned home with the tools and training to help them grow as successful policymakers, elected officials, campaign managers, politicians, activists, businesswomen and community leaders.
The Federation is proud of its innovative and intensive efforts to educate Republican women throughout the country, a commitment which has endured since its founding more than 75 years ago.