A Tradition of Study and Service


Club organized with 71 charter members aiming to increase women's influence in the growing city by advocating for educational and community improvements.  Initial efforts were promoting kindergartens and Mothers Unions (later PTA) in Kansas City public schools.


Provided supplies for the first public kindergarten in Kansas City, Missouri.  The supplies included adequate clothing and shoes for disadvantaged children to attend school. Eight public kindergartens were established by 1899.


United with other organizations in founding the Missouri Federation of Women’s Clubs, affiliated with the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, Inc. that later expanded globally.


Formed Traveling Library #1 with the purchase of 75 books that were circulated among rural Missouri communities in a horsedrawn wagon.


Hosted first Philanthropy Day, a fundraising event held annually through 2014 to raise money for charitable donations.


Started a fund offering interest-free loans to female students attending Missouri colleges. The college loan fund was turned over to the Missouri Federation of Women’s Clubs in 1909 and named the Phoebe Jane Ess Loan Fund in honor of the Athenaeum president who originated the idea. Student loans continue to be granted more than a century after the fund was established.


Built the Athenaeum Club House on the northeast corner of Linwood Boulevard and Campbell Street, dedicated to the service of the club for the next 101 years.


Formed a Mercy Sewing Committee to sew garments for a children’s hospital that later became Children’s Mercy Hospital. Club members continued the task until 1950, contributing more than 4,000 garments.


Formed a Conservation Sewing Committee with members altering adult clothing to fit children. The altered garments were distributed by the Social Service Bureau of Kansas City. Club members produced more than 7,000 garments in this endeavor that expanded over two decades.


Began teaching classes on American citizenship and English to new immigrants. This evolved into establishing the Naturalization Council for Greater Kansas City in 1938.


Held a Suffrage Victory Pageant after ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.


Club officers hosted a tea for First Lady Florence Harding at the Athenaeum Club House during President Warren Harding’s visit to Kansas City.


Club officers welcomed Queen Marie of Romania when she visited Kansas City for the Liberty Memorial dedication.


Club officers assisted Mayor Albert Beach in receiving Charles Lindbergh when he visited Kansas City in his famous plane, The Spirit of St. Louis.


Established the Laura Conyers Smith Municipal Rose Garden in Loose Park with the planting of 200 rose bushes.


Formed a Red Cross Sewing Committee to make hospital bed jackets, pajamas, and infant gowns. More than 400 garments were contributed to the American Red Cross in this three-year effort.


Club members canvassed neighborhoods in a Defense Bond Drive, selling $136,426 in war bonds.


Established a rehabilitation fund to purchase orthopedic supplies for General Hospital. More than $15,000 was donated through 1965 to purchase leg braces, corrective shoes, artificial eyes, prosthetic limbs, back braces, and eye glasses for disadvantaged patients.


Joined the Missouri Federation of Women’s Clubs fundraising efforts that led to founding Missouri Girls Town, a residential facility caring for abused and neglected girls. Missouri Girls Town opened in 1959 on property in Mountain Grove, Missouri, but moved in 1980 to an expanded campus in Kingdom City, Missouri.


Conducted a two-year project showing school children a "Keep America Beautiful" film and sponsoring art students in making promotional posters and bumper stickers after Mayor H. Roe Bartle declared 1959 as Litter Free Year in Kansas City.


Contributed 250 Christmas gifts to the Mission East Nursing Home.


Contributed 250 gifts to the Mission East Nursing Home for Valentine’s Day.


Celebrated the Athenaeum Club House listing in the National Register of Historic Places.


Purchased playground equipment and bedroom furniture for Rose Brooks Center, a shelter serving domestic violence victims.


Donated $5,000 to dedicate a named room in Oliver-Hook House, the third residential house built on the Missouri Girls Town campus.


Held a fashion show luncheon at Bartle Hall with 300 in attendance, raising $13,000 for the historic 9th & Paseo fountain that was being refurbished and dedicated as the Women’s Leadership Fountain.


Donated $5,000 to Missouri Girls Town to dedicate a named room in McDonough Hall, a newly erected administrative building with a library.


Commemorated the Kansas City Athenaeum centennial with a festive evening event highlighted with the presentation of a proclamation of achievement signed by Mayor Emanuel Cleaver.


Dropped the gender barrier by allowing men onto the membership rolls.


Celebrated the golden anniversary of the Missouri Girls Town Foundation. Annual Athenaeum donations, along with members making personal donations, surpassed $250,000 in support of the program at Missouri Girls Town.


Hosted the first Madhatter’s Ball, a successful event that led to hosting four subsequent balls in the following years to raise funds for historic preservation of the Athenaeum Club House.


Celebrated the Athenaeum Club House centennial.


Held the 112th Annual Philanthropy Day, culminating more than a century of fundraising that enabled the club to donate more than $150,000 to charities.


Athenaeum Club House sold to the Foundation for Delta Educational and Economic Development, continuing the building’s purpose of service and educational endeavors.  Proceeds from the sale support philanthropic donations and community service pursuits made by the Kansas City Athenaeum.


Initiated a ten-year philanthropic plan of donating at least $45,000 annually to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations.


In response to COVID-19 pandemic precautions, members produced more than 4,000 face masks for day care centers, schools and senior centers.