Ladies Literary Club of Salt Lake City

The Ladies Literary Club of Salt Lake City formed in 1877 by a group of women who were a more class-inclusive offshoot of the elite Blue Tea Club. The main purpose of the Ladies Literary Club of Salt Lake City was to support "pursuits and development of mental culture" but they also took on many issues to improve community welfare.

Fighting "Smoke Evil"

From reviewing historic newspaper articles available in the Utah Digital Newspapers, there is significant documentation of the Ladies’ Literary Club taking aim at the smoke nuisance problem in Salt Lake City. Collaborating with the Commercial Club (subsequently the Chamber of Commerce), they made claims that the smoke nuisance problem caused $2 Million in losses each year (Salt Lake Herald Republican, 1913-09-28).  The Ladies Literary Club’s focus was passing a smoke abatement ordinance geared towards furnace operators of large-scale polluters, such as industrial plants, apartments, hotels, and laundries, but with a stronger emphasis on schools and railroads. The ordinance will require training for those operating heating equipment, stoves and ovens. In 1913, the Ladies Literary Club obtained 300 signatures to petition a smoke ordinance the Salt Lake City Mayor (Salt Lake Herald Republican 1913-09-27). The clubwomen also collected and reviewed smoke reduction ordinances and laws in other cities and countries. Notes from other effective measures included:  requiring engineers and fireman to be trained on the art of firing a boiler or furnace so smoke is minimized; specific coal burning techniques instructions to operators of boilers and furnaces to burn thin layers of coal at shorter intervals vs larger amounts for longer periods; implementing systemized inspections and a series of notices; most importantly, create a smoke investigation bureau as had been done in Chicago. This was the example used for the creation of the Salt Lake City ordinance (Salt Lake Telegram, 1914-01-31). 

Creating the SLC Smoke Investigation Division

In February of 1914, the Ladies Literary Club was present during smoke ordinance proposals to the Salt Lake City Commission in order to defend these proposals against opposers. Two ordinances were presented to the commission: 1) a creation of a board of examiners who would examine and license workers responsible for firing and maintaining furnaces and boilers at heating plants. 2) The creation of a smoke inspection department under the purview of the Salt Lake City government whose duty would be to enforce smoke regulations in the first ordinance. The first ordinance faced much criticism due to the cost of licensing workers, which would be a financial hardship for apartment owners. The second ordinance did pass - a smoke investigation division of the Bureau of Mechanical Investigation was announced in June 1914. The primary mission of this bureau was to tackle the smoke problem in Salt Lake City and its creation was largely due to Ladies Literary Club's advocacy.

The Marriott Library Special Collections has a Ladies Literary Club of Salt Lake City photograph collection, (1895-2008) and Ladies Literary Club records collections (1879-2019), however, evidence of their work towards smoke abatement is mostly accessible in newspaper articles in the Utah Digital Newspapers. 

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