Booklets from Cootiette Club of Van Nuys - gift of Gary Fredburg 2007 - Archives of The Museum of the San Fernando Valley
Often your Museum receives small items that at first glance are little more curiosities. This might have been the case of the three booklets just given to The Museum by Gary Fredburg. However, on examination, the Constitution of the Cootiette Club of the United States provided a important puzzle piece in understanding the mindsets of women shortly after World War II.
The Preamble to the Constitution states: "We, the Mothers, Wives, Widows, Sister, Daughters, Half Sisters, Stepmothers, Stepdaughters and Foster Mothers, Sisters, and Daughters, not less than 18 years of age, who are American citizens, of deceased and honorably discharged officers and enlisted men of the Army, Navy, or Marine Corps, whose service to the United States Government was performed on foreign soil or hostile waters, and women of the Armed Forces who have rendered Foreign Service in behalf of the United States of America and have an honorable discharge and their Mothers, Sisters and Daughters, do hereby united to establish a permanent organization to be known as the Supreme Cootiette Club of the United States.
The timing of the club and its membership rules are important. Today gay men and lesbian women live under the constraints of the "don't ask, don't tell" policies of the military, in the 1940s, military personnel who experienced psychological trauma were equally hidden. Thousands of vetrans returned to their homes without any serious attempt to integrate them back into their communities. Women needed support groups to help them deal with the world war had created.Tom Brocaw's "greatest generation" didn't talk about mental health, alcoholism, addictions, the abuse of women. Support groups existed, often under thinly disguised "frilly" names.
Your Museum will pay attention to the Cootiette Club of Van Nuys and issues facing women in our history.