The history of the Tri Sigma Study Club
(Part one of three)
The Tri Sigma Club of Blackduck, organized April 19, 1926, by 12 enterprising women who felt a need in the community for a club to work along the lines of study, service and sociability and to be a part of the state organization of federated clubs. Hence, the name Tri Sigma, a Greek word, was chosen to represent the three areas in which they would concentrate.
Tri Sigma has always been included in the name but the name has been changed to reflect our involvement with the international organization of General Federated Women's Clubs. We have been named Blackduck Tri Sigma GFWC and are currently named GFWC Blackduck Tri Sigma.
The Tri Sigma Club was federated in July, 1926. The ladies met twice a month; once for a study session and once a month for a social evening. At the present time the meetings are held once a month. GFWC Blackduck Tri Sigma observed their 50th Anniversary March 1976 by re-enacting an old time meeting of the Club, mentioning highlights of the last 50 years.
Several members dressed appropriately in clothing depicting that era. Edna Oberg, a member since 1927, was chosen "Woman of the Year" for her contribution to the growth and well being of our club and community. She rode in the prize-winning Tri Sigma float in the parade as a part of the community's bicentennial observance.
In May of 2006, we celebrated our 80th birthday with our State GFWC President, Yvonne Schilplin, attending our luncheon meeting. Birthday cakes and gift boxes decorated each table.
Members had to be married and were to be invited to be members. Member's names in the program booklet listed the husband's name not the member, such as Mrs. John Smith.
In the 1970s, Mary Alsaker was the first single member to be invited to join Tri Sigma. Potential members were voted into the organization. In 1978, Val Thielman was the last person to be voted into membership. Today, a salad luncheon is held in July and potential members are invited to the luncheon to learn about our organization, if they choose to join the dues are collected at our next meeting held in September.
Over the span of 85 years the Club's existence lines of study are varied. The members research and give topics on music, art, poetry, environment, international relations, study courses planned by Readers Digest magazine and many, many more topics too numerous to mention.
Films, travelogues and fashion shows were enjoyed and speakers from Bemidji State University, Beltrami County Welfare Department, attorneys, doctors and specialists in various fields were called upon to speak at the meetings. At every meeting we have a special roll call in which members can share and learn more about one another.
In 1980 and for several years following, the Blackduck Tri Sigma and Blackduck Future Homemakers of America hosted a babysitting clinic for fifth and sixth grade students.
In 1981, author and craft designer, Julie Stephani, spoke to the group. That same year, Dr. Paul Bengston and his wife, spoke to the club about their years in the Peace Corps.
The prayer breakfast also began in 1981 and it has continued annually to the present day. If Blackduck High School has foreign student, the club members enjoy inviting the foreign students to a meeting to share information about their country.
Club meetings have been held at Anderson Fabrics factory, where employees explained their work in making custom draperies and bedspreads.
For several years a member, Betty Parker, a retired English teacher, gave annual book reports. Now at a club meeting, all the members review a book they have read. A list of the books and authors is distributed to the members at the next meeting.
For several years the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America presented their Students Taking Action for Recognition events as a program for the Blackduck Tri Sigma members.
Currently programs follow GFWC guidelines such as arts, conservation, education, home life, international outreach and public issues. Guest speakers from different organizations pertaining to the monthly topic are invited to meetings.
(Next week: Service)