The Club Collect

The Story of Mary Stewart's Collect (as told by Mary Stewart)

     The Collect was written as a personal prayer for the day, and without any organization in mind. It was written at Longmont, Colorado in 1904 where, just out of college, I was entering my first job as principal of the local high school. The prayer was offered for publication under the title, "A Collect for Club Woman," because at the time I felt that women working together with wide interest for large ends was a new thing under the sun, and that perhaps they had need for special petition and mediation of their own and distributed it throughout the Empire.

     The first printing of the Collect was in an obscure paragraph in the column called "Club Notes" in the Delineator, a woman's magazine no longer published, but at the time nationally popular. Later, copies were struck off by a local printer for the members of Longmont Fortnightly Club of Colorado; a federated club. About 1909, Paul Elder and Company of San Francisco printed it as a wall card. In 1924, wall cards were put out by Armstrong Stationary Company of Cincinnati. All earlier copies were signed by Mary Stuart, a spelling used until 1920 as a pen name. Since then the spelling Stewart has been used both for a pen name and signature, and the Collect has been so signed.

     The first women's organization to hear or use the Collect or to print it in its yearbooks and biennial reports was the General Federation of Women's Clubs. Since then, it has been reported in many forms in many lands.

Keep us, oh God, from pettiness;
let us be large in thought, in word, in deed.

Let us be done with fault-finding 
and leave off self-seeking.

May we put away all pretense
and meet each other face to face,
without self-pity and without prejudice.

May we never be hasty in judgment
and always be generous.

Let us take time for all things; 
make us grow calm, serene, gentle.

Teach us to put into action our better impulses,
straightforward and unafraid.

Grant that we may realize it is
the little things that create differences,
that in the big things of life we are at one.

And may we strive to touch and to know
the great, common human heart of us all.
And, oh Lord God, let us forget not
to be kind!

-Mary Stewart, April 1941

GFWC of Tennessee Official Pledge 

We pledge ourselves: 
  • to use our united strength to make better homes, better schools, better surroundings, better scholarships, and better lives. 
  • to work together for civil health and civic righteousness; 
  • to preserve our heritage – the forest and the natural beauties of the land; 
  • to procure for our children an education, which fits them for life – the training of the hand and the heart as well as the head; 
  • to protect the children. . . who are deprived of the birthright of natural childhood; 
  • to obtain right conditions and proper safeguards for the women who toil.