Meeting in the Jackson Library in April 1919, a group of twenty-five women organized the Jackson Business and Professional Women. Miss Alice Drake called the meeting and was elected president.
In May 1919, the Tennessee Federation was organized in Chattanooga, with seven local organizations represented. Bertha Childs of Nashville was elected president. In July the National Federation of Business and Professional Women was founded in St. Louis with Gail Laughlin of California as president. The Jackson organization was a charter member of both federations and later was affiliated with the International Federation.
This organization came about because in February 1918, a National War Work Council Report, guided by officers of the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), urged the formation of an organization that would train business women around the country to run the nation’s businesses and industries, since the men were at war. A Women’s War Council, financed through a federal grant, was established by the War Department to organize BPW.
Thus a legacy of educating and training businesswomen began. At the 1922 Chattanooga Convention, Lena Lake Forrest, the national president, said, “We must see to it here that the young woman coming into the business world today shall be so well-equipped that she will be regarded as a great business asset.”
The Frances Owen Memorial Fund was created to help finance education for women. A College Loan Fund was established to assist women in completing their college education.