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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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CATHOLIC MOTHERS' STUDY CLUBS. Founded in January, 1941, by Auleen EBERHARDT, the clubs featured activities ranging from helping each other in times of need to informal coffees and listening to speakers on a variety of topics.

The Clubs began with two groups prior to the United States' involvement in WORLD WAR II. The functions of the organization at that time were to educate women to handle the emotional crisis of war and help them raise their children. Programs at meetings concerned family recreation, nutrition, character development, and health. A part of each meeting was given to the Rosary, in honor of Mary, Queen of Homemakers. Four circles, St. Margaret's, St. Anne's, Our Lady's, and 51. Monica's were formed with a total membership of one hundred members before enrollment was closed.

With the start of war, preparations advocated by the Clubs came into immediate use as supplies became scarce. To safeguard health and prevent injuries, children were carefully watched, a doctor was called in the first twenty-four hours of illness, and mothers tended their ill youngsters at home. The Hot Pack method of caring for polio patients was learned. Study Clubs helped maintain the first POLIO quarantine in Dubuque by keeping their own children at home during the polio season. Catholic Mothers were among the first in Dubuque to have their children vaccinated with the Salk vaccine.

Following the war, interest in forming more study clubs developed. Mary HICKEY led the way with the formation of the St. Elizabeth's Circle. In October 1961 the Clubs were among several agencies to sponsor the first collection by children of money for UNICEF (United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund) instead of treats on Halloween. (1)

Concerned with vandalism, the study clubs proposed programs in the summer of 1967 to keep children occupied and out of trouble. For the very young, a neighborhood "backyard play" system was proposed with mothers in each neighborhood taking turns supervising. Older children could be involved in home beautification programs. Teenagers without jobs were encouraged to visit residents in the city's care facilities. (2)

In 1989 thirty-one groups had an estimated membership of six hundred women with more on waiting lists. Each group participated in fund-raising activities enabling them to support programs such as Birthright and the aid to the needy. Clubs have adopted needy families during the holidays and provided programs at nursing homes.



1. "Okay Treats for 'UNICEF,' " Telegraph Herald, October 3, 1961, p. 1

2. "Study Club Proposes Steps to Curb Vandalism Here," Telegraph Herald, July 9, 1967, p. 21