Lena Madesin Phillips
|Lena Madesin Phillips|
from "An Organization of Builders" Independent Woman, August 1921
September 15, 1881|
Nicholasville, Kentucky United States
|Died||May 22, 1955
|Occupation||American lawyer and clubwoman|
|Known for||Founder of both the National and the International Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs|
|Parent(s)||Alice Phillips and Judge William Henry Phillips|
Lena Madesin Phillips (September 15, 1881 - May 22, 1955) was a lawyer and clubwoman who founded the National Business and Professional Women's Clubs in 1919 and by 1930 the International Federation of Business and Professional Women.
Background and early life
Anna Lena Phillips was born on September 15, 1881 in Nicholasville, Kentucky; she was the daughter of Judge William Henry Phillips and Alice Phillips of Jessamine County, Kentucky. From a young age, Phillips wanted to step outside of the normal gender-based roles, and this led to her thirst to obtain knowledge. At age 7 she enrolled in the Jessamine Female Institute where she studied everything offered, including music. When Phillips was at age 11, she changed her name to Madesin in order to recognize her brother who was studying medicine in Paris, France at the time. At age 18 when she graduated, she received Magna Cum Laude from the Jessamine Female Institute.
College and law career
Phillips attended the Woman's College of Baltimore (now called Goucher College), where her studies again included music and she was even more enthused about attaining knowledge and engaging in extracurricular activities until she became ill from exhaustion. While recovering in Kentucky she fell and hurt a nerve in her arm, which required her to stop playing music for an extended period of time and drop out of the Woman's College of Baltimore. She was later offered a job at her alma mater, Jessamine Female Institute, teaching music at $500 a year.
Due to her father's influence and her interest in politics and economics, Phillips soon studied law at the University of Kentucky, making a twelve-mile trip to Lexington everyday from Nicholasville. During this time, she helped her father maintain his public image, and was involved in Jessamine County and Kentucky politics. She initially was subject to resistance as a female student. When she graduated from the law school in 1917, she was the first woman to graduate with full honors and she had the highest marks for her law class. She then opened her own firm in Nicholasville, Kentucky.
Phillips traveled to New York City for her involvement in the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA), and she began working to unite businesswomen of the United States. With the help of the YWCA and her involvement in the Business Women's Committee, she started the National Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs of the United States (NFBPWC). After starting the club, which was officially established in 1919, she was elected the first president.
The club promoted equality for women, especially economic parity with men in the business world, and was involved in other issues, such as child labor and international peace. In 1930, the NFBPWC endorsed the Equal Rights Amendment. To broaden national exposure, she toured the country, giving speeches on the club's ideology in places like Kansas City, Colorado, Santa Fe, the Grand Canyon, and Los Angeles. Hard-driven, she became sickly and weak several times during her life.
Phillips embarked on goodwill tours of Europe in 1928 and 1929 in order to reach an international audience. The first trip that she took with colleagues included stops in England, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy to meet with professional business women and discuss starting club in their countries. Phillips went back to Geneva, Switzerland and on August 26, 1930, the International Federation of Business and Professional Women was formed and shortly thereafter, Lena Madesin Phillips was named as the first president of the IFBPW, which she served as until 1947. Phillips felt that economic equality would bring about women's equality in education, social, and political aspects of society. She was quoted saying, " ...if our motive is right, if we have faith, vision and courage, accomplishment must come." Phillips then made many trips to Europe and from France, Italy, and England from 1928 until the end of her life in 1955.
Phillips had a relationship for 36 years with Marjory Lacey-Baker, who she described as "the woman with whom I share my home." She met Lacey Baker, an American playwright who wrote In the Light and an actress with the Provincetown Players, in 1919. At that time, Phillips attended a pageant where Lacey-Baker was performing. Lacey-Baker was Manikin in 1918 Manikin Minikin by Alfred Kreymborg and performed in Two Slatterns and a King as Chance together with Edna St. Vincent Millay. According to Ms Castledine, Phillips and Lacey-Baker "operated in a world of socially and politically committed women reformers, some also living in a same-sex relationship." Due to their relationship, there was a dedication to her in A Measure Filled, a biography about Phillips by Lisa Sergio,. Lacey-Baker died March 11, 1971.
She continued her work until the very end of her life and died in France, while on her way to the Middle East. Her body was sent back to Jessamine County, Kentucky and she was buried at the Maple Grove Cemetery in Nicholasville, Kentucky.
- Sergio, Lisa. A Measure Filled, the Life of Lena Madesin Phillips: Drawn from her Autobiography (New York: Robert B. Luce Inc., 1972), 9.
- Sergio, Lisa (1972). A Measure Filled, the Life of Lena Madesin Phillips: Drawn from her Autobiography. New York: Robert B. Luce Inc. pp. 72–73.
- "BPW International". Retrieved 15 November 2010.[dead link]
- Sergio, 6.
- Leila J. Rupp. "Imagine My Surprise". Women's Relationships in Historical Perspective (PDF). Frontiers. pp. 63–42.
- Jacqueline Castledine (1 November 2012). Cold War Progressives: Women's Interracial Organizing for Peace and Freedom. University of Illinois Press. p. 56. ISBN 978-0-252-09443-9.
- Carpentier, Martha. ""Susan Glaspell: New Directions in Critical Inquiry"". cambridgescholars.com. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Retrieved 9 March 2015.
- The Dramatic Books and Plays (in English) Published During 1912-1916, 1921. Boston book Company. 1922. p. 4.
- Brenda Murphy (December 2005). The Provincetown Players and the Culture of Modernity. Cambridge University Press. p. 113. ISBN 978-0-521-83852-8.
- Lisa Sergio (18 March 2015). A Measure Filled: The life of Lena Madesin Phillips Drawn from her Autobiography. eBooks2go. p. 1. ISBN 978-0-88331-001-4.
- "Obituaries: Miss Marjory Lacey-Baker". The Bridgeport Post. Bridgeport, Connecticut. March 12, 1971. p. 56. Retrieved July 24, 2017 – via newspapers.com. (Subscription required (. ))
- "Lena Madesin Phillips". Retrieved 11 February 2015.