According to their website, the Civic Club “is a service organization that supports and initiates community projects” and “build[s] a better and greater Harrisburg.” The club was formed in the late 1800s as a way to increase good citizenship and social order. With an emphasis on improving and beautifying the city, the club played a crucial role in the City Beautiful Movement and I will be exploring its influence in our Omeka site.
To learn more about the club, I have spent many hours reading through different sources found at Dauphin County Historical Society, including the minutes from general meetings of the club, club year books, and papers written by club members. From all of this, I was intrigued to find that Mira Lloyd Dock had a larger role in the club than I originally anticipated.
In 1898, Mira Lloyd Dock became one of the founding members of the Civic Club. While she never held the position of president or vice president, Dock was on the Board of Directors, chairing the Forestry Department (later the Department of Forestry and Town Improvements) and Planting Committee. With these positions she directed many of the club’s actions, even insisting that the club create a year book. Dock’s position in the Forestry Department expanded to her being selected to represent the Federation of Pennsylvania Women and the Parks Association of Philadelphia
at the International Congress of Women at London in 1899. Her experiences while abroad were what prompted her to deliver the famous “City Beautiful” speech to the Board of Trade in 1900, which can be seen as a catalyst for the City Beautiful Movement. A year before she gave this speech, Dock addressed the Civic Club at their November 20, 1899 meeting about her experiences while in Europe.
While reading through more of the records on the general minutes of Civic Club meetings, I also found that Dock actively spoke about implementing improvements to the city which contributed to improvements being done by other leaders of the City Beautiful Movement. For example, in February of 1899, Dock addressed the club with the need for planning improvements for State Street. In May, Dock spoke of a tree planting event the Department of Forestry and Town Improvements had done on 4th Street and their future plans to improve playgrounds in the city.
Mira Lloyd Dock is mainly known for her City Beautiful speech and work on “Harrisburg City’s Plan.” I was excited to read more of about her work to enhance Harrisburg through the Civic Club. From writing papers regarding the planting of flowers by citizens, to advocating for the improvements of parks and playground, Dock continued to make Harrisburg’s enhancement a priority through this women’s club.
For more information on the history of the Civic Club in Harrisburg, click here.
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