Sorosis of Orlando
Sorosis of Orlando has a long history of service in Orlando: “In 1893, ten soft-spoken women of Orlando met at the home of Mrs. Robert Howe to organize a study club. Mrs. W. R. Anno, Miss Maud Anno, Miss Blanche Anno, Mrs. Annie Coleman, Miss Emily Dickenson, Mrs. H. W. Greetham, Mrs. Robert Howe, Miss Julia Pomeroy, Miss Lillian Shine, and Mrs. D. S. Shine became Charter Members. They adopted the name Sorosis from Latin meaning “sisterhood”.
The women of Sorosis impacted the lives of countless individuals and the community at large for almost 130 years! In March 2021, the Sorosis club announced that they were selling their building at 501 East Livingston Street. Club president Susan Piner, who is 77 years young, explained that there were only 19 members left, and revenue lost due to the COVID 19 pandemic gave them no other recourse.
The first “public” library in Orlando
The Sorosis club of Orlando created a small circulating library for its members to use for research and personal development. This collection is said to have been initially housed on the second floor of the Old Armory Building on south Court Avenue. It was subsequently moved to the Knox building at Pine and Court Avenue and the general public was permitted to borrow books for a small fee. It remained the only library open to the public until the construction of the Albertson Public Library in 1923, at which time, the club donated their books to the library.
VIEW Sorosis Library regulations, pasted inside the front cover of the book “The Works of the Late William Robertson, D.D., Vol. II.”
- The Library shall be kept open for the receipt and delivery of books, every Saturday, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.
- All persons are allowed to consult books in the room during Library hours.
- On payment of One Dollar, per annum, any person shall be entitled to take books from the Library and retain them not longer than two weeks under penalty of Two Cents per day for each volume so retained beyond the authorized time.
- No person shall lend any book belonging to the Library or transfer it to another person’s account.
- Certain books of reference –Encyclopedias, Dictionaries, etc.–shall in no case be taken from the Library room.
- Volumes lost or seriously damaged, must be paid for by the person to whom they are charged.
- Any non-subscriber can, upon the deposit of One Dollar, take books from the Library by paying Ten Cents per week or Twenty-five Cents per month. The deposit of One Dollar to be refunded when Library privileges are no longer desired.
- A non-observance of any of the above rules wil [sic] subject the offender to a deprivation of the privileges of the Library.
- Always present the CARD on borrowing or returning a book.
Helen MacKay shared her memories of the organization and the library in an interview with library staff member Joan Irwin on November 7, 1983.
VIEW Booklet commemorating 50th anniversary of Sorosis Club. Program from the 50th anniversary of the founding of Sorosis of Orlando in 1943.
VIEW Sorosis 1924-1925 yearbook. Peruse the committees for an overview of the club members’ activities.
A bookmobile for the Library – November 22, 1949
In early 1949, a proposal for the addition of a Bookmobile was presented to the board of the Albertson Public Library by the Orange County Chamber of Commerce. The ladies of Sorosis decided that a Bookmobile that would take books to people in the small communities of Orange County was a worthy venture, so they spearheaded a drive to raise $6,000 for the purchase of the vehicle. The Board of County Commissioners appropriated $10,000 for the staffing, books, and upkeep of the vehicle, and by November 1949 it was on the road serving the people of Orange County.
Events and productions
VIEW 1957 Know Your Neighbor program. On March 4, 1957, The Business and Professional Women’s Clubs of Orlando in cooperation with Sorosis and Altrusa, American Association of University Women, B’Nai B’Rith Women’s Chapter, Council of Church Women, Girl Scouts, Pilot Club, Soroptimists, St. Elizabeth’s Guild, Women Teacher’s Honor Society and Zonta presented a production entitled “Know Your Neighbor” dedicated to the American Principals of Brotherhood and Democracy. Peruse the entire program.
Presidents of Sorosis 1893-1975
The 1975-1976 yearbook lists the former presidents of Sorosis.
*Mrs. Robert Howe, 1893
*Mrs. H. W. Greetham
*Mrs. F. A. Curtis
*Mrs. C. G. Browning
*Miss Kena Fries
*Miss Mollie Ray
*Mrs. T. P. Warlow
*Miss Marcia Johnson
*Mrs. Mahlon Gore
*Mrs. Helen Wright
*Mrs. A. B. Whitman, 1912-23
*Mrs. Robert M. Shearer, 1923-25
*Mrs. Alexander Akerman, 1925-27
Mrs. C. D. Christ, 1927-29
Mrs. Frederick E. Godfrey, 1929-30
*Mrs. Charles F. Batchelder, 1930-32
*Mrs. C. C. Daley, 1932-34
*Mrs. A. H. Reppard, 1934-36
Mrs. A. T. MacKay, 1936-38
Mrs. William M. Lane, 1938-40
Mrs. Samuel F. Ricker, 1940-42
Mrs. L. A. Blake, 1942-44
Mrs. A. H. Smith, Jr., 1944-46
Mrs. E. Harold Johnson, 1946-47
*Mrs. Robert J. Pleus, 1947-48
*Mrs. John B. Davis, 1948-50
Mrs. Ruth McCullough Maguire, 1950-52
Mrs. Floyd S. Batten, May-Nov. 1952
*Miss Warrene Piper, Dec. 1952-May 1954
Mrs. R. L. Schacht, 1954-1956
Mrs. L. C. Candedo, 1956-57
*Mrs. William P. Mullen, 1957-59
Mrs. Ben Gammage, 1959-60
Mrs. J. M. Collins, 1960-61
*Mrs. W. T. Chennell, 1961-62
Mrs. W. Ivan Wilder, 1962-64
Mrs. Gray A. Strain, Jr., 1964-66
Mrs. Julian E. Laughinghouse, Sr., 1966-67
Mrs. Robert H. Betts, 1967-68
Mrs. James H. Harper, 1968-69
Mrs. James A. Vincent, 1969-70
Mrs. Allison F. Martin, 1970-72
Mrs. Paul A. Dolezar, 1972-73
Mrs. J. B. Lawton III, 1973-75
Attached documents are part of the Orange County Associations files at the Orlando Public Library. Additional yearbooks from 1945-1976 (not inclusive) are located in the vertical file: Orange County – Association – Sorosis. Additional folders contain news clippings and supplemental information on the Sorosis Club.
Program created for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the founding of Sorosis of Orlando in 1893.
Yearbook lists members, committees, calendar of events, members who died during the year, society constitution, and by laws.
Additional yearbooks from 1945-1976 (not inclusive) are located in the Orlando Public Library vertical file - Orange County - Association - Sorosis. Additional folders contain news clippings and other information on Sorosis.
On March 4, 1957, The Business and Professional Women's Clubs of Orlando in cooperation with Sorosis and Altrusa, American Association of University Women, B'Nai B'Rith Women's Chapter, Council of Church Women, Girl Scouts, Pilot Club, Soroptimists, St. Elizabeth's Guild, Women Teacher's Honor Society and Zonta presented a production entitled "Know Your Neighbor" dedicated to the American Principals of Brotherhood and Democracy.