California Congress of Parents and Teachers, Tested Recipes
California Congress of Parents And Teachers Los angeles Tenth District
Los Angeles, 1934
The California Congress of Parents and Teachers 10th District had its origins in the Los Angeles Federation of Mothers’ Clubs, founded in 1900. The organization soon changed its name to the California Congress of Mothers and Child Study Circles and was a precursor to the PTA. The group was one of the first local chapters in the nation-wide Congress of Parents and Teachers - officially becoming California’s “Tenth District” in 1920.
The nation-wide PTA was born even earlier, in 1897. Known then as the National Congress of Mothers, the first gathering of more than 2,000 participants in Washington D.C. was organized by Alice McLellan Birney and Phoebe Apperson Hearst (mother of publisher William Randolf Hearst). The 3-day conference led to State chapters around the Country, and eventually at the District level. The organization officially changed its name to the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) in 1966.
However, it is important to note that the present-day PTA is rooted not only in Birney and Hearst’s Congress of Mothers but also in the National Congress of Colored Parents and Teachers founded by Selena Sloan Butler in 1911, in Georgia. By 1926 that organization had chapters across the U.S. Many schools remained segregated throughout the Country for decades and the NCCPT did not officially merge with the PTA in 1970.
Butler was a prolific women’s organizer. In addition to the NCCPT, Butler was the founder of the “Grey Ladies Corp.” - the first African American women’s chapter of the Red Cross during WWI. She was also an active member of the Order of Eastern Star, which has several cookbooks in this archive.
While PTAs have often been caricatured in popular culture as Stepford-wife relics, Los Angeles’ Tenth District is still very active today. On their website, the organization notes:
“Where health and nutrition were main priorities in 1920, we now find such issues as drug abuse, adolescent pregnancy, teenage suicide, cultural diversity and television viewing skills on our busy agenda. School funding is a paramount concern today and the PTA has developed a legislative advocacy program to seek governmental support of public education and child welfare.”
The group currently provides parent education, leadership training, advocacy on behalf of parents and students with the LAUSD Board, health and wellness, Arts scholarships and many other services.
Black & white photo from the Valley Times Collection via the LAPL. It depicts Mrs. Albert Doraster, president of the Mid Valley Council PTA, getting “big buss from hubby” as she heads to the state convention of the California Congress of Parents and Teachers.
School leadership at the District and State level in the 1940s and ‘50s was still largely the domain of men, but the PTA gave many women a powerful voice. Even as of 2017, women made up over 75% of teachers and administrators, but only 52% of school principals and only 25% of superintendents (up from 13% in 2000).