Women in Pelham

Mary L. H. Taylor (1898-1993) was appointed to the Pelham Recreation Commission after complaining about the lack of a town park or recreational space for females and others who didn’t play ball.

She was a President of the Pelham Women’s Club for a number of years which was started by Helen Williams, whose husband was a local minister.

Helen Williams thought it would be a good thing to have the women get to know each other, and as Mary Taylor explains in her oral history, such clubs helped unite towns which often had in-fighting among different church congregations.
Floretta Sally Ward Shepard (1889-1980) was a school teacher until she married.

She was very civic-minded and took leadership roles in Pelham.

She was on the Pelham School Board for 16 years and helped start the Pelham PTA.

Mrs. Shepard was a Girl Scout guide and when the Amherst Girl Scouts did not want to take in all those interested in joining, so she helped start a Girl Scout troop in Pelham.

After her husband’s death in 1945 Sally Shepard held a number of jobs, including working at the Belchertown State School and the Boston State Hospital.

She was “happy moving around and doing other things. I think it’s good for you…” (See Oral Histories, pp. 330 – 347).
Gladys Olds Reed (1899-1988) was for many years the Pelham correspondent for the Amherst Bulletin’s precursor, the Amherst Journal Record.

She played an important role in Pelham’s civic life as well. For 31 years she was a 4H leader in Pelham, leading “Quests of Spring,” sewing, cooking, garden, flower and “any kind of club you can think of.”

Together with Dorothy “Dolly” (Page) Ward (1893 -1964) she ran a card party to raise enough money for window screens and doors for two Pelham schools.

Gladys Reed, Sally Shepard and Marion Robinson started the Pelham PTA (Parent Teacher Association) around 1928-1929. Mrs. Reed moderated the first meeting but did not want to be president; instead, to “bring the fathers out” they thought “it would be nice to have a man to head it up.” So they elected Raymond Robinson as Pelham’s first PTA President.

Gladys Reed also was president of the Pelham Women’s Club two or three times which already had gone out of existence by the time she was interviewed in 1980. (See Oral Histories, pp. 252- 277).
Grace (Collis) Kimball (1885–1967) served as Pelham Selectwoman (the term used then) from 1934 until 1949. The oral histories indicate that not only was she the first woman to serve in this role in Pelham, but that at least one male member of the Board was unhappy with a woman serving.