Women Who Reached for the Stars: Cecilia Gaines Holland

A series exploring NJSFWC’s proud legacy​

As we continue this series, we will step back in time to introduce you to another woman who had the vision to reach for the stars. Please enjoy this series and continue the legacy by supporting the NJSFWC Shining Future Endowment Campaign. Participating in the campaign will assist NJSFWC in its support of Continuing Funds, and building membership. Visit the NJSFWCshiningfuture.org website to make a donation or explore our goals and history. Speakers are available for your club.

Second Administration (1896-1898)
Miss Cecilia Gaines, President
(Mrs. John A. Holland)

Born January 12, 1861 in Jersey City, Miss Cecilia Gaines of the Odd Volumes Club of Jersey City was 35 years old when she became the second NJSFWC President. Shortly after finishing her term as president, she became the bride of Dr. John Arnold Holland.

NJSFWC formative years were history when the young and vigorous Miss Gaines took office. Committees firmly established were Town Improvement, Kindergarten, Traveling Libraries, Education and Reciprocity (an exchange program service whereby files, lectures, and papers were loaned to clubs).

From the beginning clubwoman realized they would need the help of legislators to reach their goals. An appeal to the Governor was made to establish traveling libraries and legislation was sought to include kindergartens in the public schools. Although some women were serving on school boards, women were not allowed to vote for school boards. An amendment to permit women to vote for school boards was rejected.

In 1895, efforts began for the preservation of the Palisades. In 1897, a State Yearbook was published for the first time, and is still the “Federation Bible” to clubwomen throughout the state.

At the annual meeting in Camden, delegates reported on the progress made with the legislature. Subject for debate was furnishing the NJ Room at Mount Vernon, (pictured), and to cooperate with the Women’s Health Protective Association.

At the 4th Annual Meeting, Delegates endorsed the request for aid by the George Washington Memorial Association in “establishing a well-endowed” university in Washington DC, now known as George Washington University, a private university in Washington DC.

Cecilia Gaines Holland Award

When Mrs. Holland died at the age of 83, she bequeathed the sum of $1,000 to be invested by the Board of Directors. The income from this investment was to be given annually in the form of cash or medal, to a clubwoman doing outstanding civic work in NJ, and is still awarded today. Click here for Cecilia Gaines Holland Award details.

Women Who Reach For The Stars Committee

The committee would like your assistance in reaching out to corporations or individuals who may be interested in this campaign. Please send an email to info@njsfwcshiningfuture.org. Your assistance is appreciated.

NJSFWC Shining Future Endowment Campaign

New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Clubs of GFWC
55 Labor Center Way
New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1593