A Lawrence women's club will celebrate its 120th anniversary tonight.
The Zodiac Club, one of the oldest women's clubs in Lawrence, will celebrate its 120th anniversary tonight with a look at the impact some members had on the growth of Kansas University.
The literary study club, which was formed Feb. 5, 1878, includes among its members many women who held positions at KU or were the wives of professors and administrators, said Rita Haugh, a longtime member.
"Zodiac helped to build the university," said Haugh, who is on a committee planning the celebration.
For example, one prominent Zodiac member was Carrie Watson, university librarian from 1887 to 1921, for whom KU's Watson Library is named.
Nine other Zodiac members were married to KU professors or chancellors after whom buildings and auditoriums were named.
Those included Harriet Lippincott, the wife of Chancellor Josiah Lippincott; Josephine Marvin, the wife of Frank Marvin, dean of engineering; and Ophelia Dyche, the wife of Lewis Dyche, KU's famed naturalist and adventurer.
At tonight's celebration, which will be at the Lawrence Country Club, the members will hear a presentation about the effect the club's members have had on KU, said Haugh, the wife of Oscar Haugh, retired education and English professor.
Haugh said the club hasn't changed much in its membership mix or format during its 120-year history.
"We try to keep a mix of both townspeople and university people," she said.
The club has about 30 active members and 18 life members, she said. Members include people who work at KU, real estate agents, high school teachers and some graduate students.
Each year, the club chooses a theme to study. Members meet every other week to listen to presentations on the topic, which is researched by club members.
"When it started, not that many women went to college. It was a chance for continuing education," Haugh said. "It's definitely not a social club. We don't serve refreshments when we meet."
This year, the club is studying Italy. The members assign each other research topics on authors, history, art, architecture, music, regional foods and other cultural aspects, Haugh said.
"We're one of the few study clubs that do this," she said. "We prepare our own topics and present, rather than bring in speakers."
Haugh said club records don't indicate why the name Zodiac was picked. She said it has nothing to do with astronomy or astrology.
"There were various theories," she said. "It misleads a lot of people."
-- Dave Toplikar's phone message number is 832-7151. His e-mail address is email@example.com.