California As A Field For Women's Activities

By Hon. Phoebe A. Hearst, 1915



Honorary President of Women's Board of Panama-Pacific International Exposition and Regent University of California


As the result of many years' observation and experience of California life I do not hesitate to state the following facts which may be of interest to women who contemplate making homes in California:


In California women have been recognized since pioneer times as physically and intellectually qualified to occupy high positions of trust and responsibility in connection with public affairs, and have discharged the duties of such positions with popular recognition of their efficiency as well as popular approval of their devotion and energy.


In California enterprises women have always participated not only as owners, but as directors and managers, and have certainly attained as high percentage of success in such affairs as men have.  It is no surprise in California that a woman should decide to direct her own business affairs.  On the other hand, it is rather expected that she will manage them, for during the several recent decades of rapid development of the finance and industry of the State women have made good in such undertakings.


The enfranchisement of women in California was the logical result of the foregoing demonstration.  It was not a whim or sentiment of men, for whims and sentiments were generally against it.  It was an irresistible evolution from California experience, and it stands as a surety to coming women that they will be free to act in public affairs and in their own business and that they will be appreciated and judge just as men are in similar undertakings.


In social affairs women in California are less hampered by tradition in convention than in older communities.  This is their share in the glorious freedom of the West.


In home-making California women have notable advantage over their sisters who are called upon to perform domestic duties in cold, wintry, or sultry summer climates.  California homes cost less to build because equal grace and capacity of habitation can be had without providing strength against snowfalls and exclusion of zero temperatures.  In houses which benefit the California climate and which would be regarded as summer shelters in the East, or in Northern Europe, one can provide modern plumbing with all its conveniences without exceeding the cost of the mere shell of a house in a wintry country.  And then the almost continuous open air life of the family, the health and vigor of the children, and the better nature of the man-of-the-house are all joys beyond estimation to the housewife.  Whether it is their lot to live in city mansions or tenements, in country villas, or in board cottages colored only by the climbing roses, the California climate works constantly with and for the women, and the California spirit which illumines the home gives them strength to enjoy in the duties they are called upon to perform.




MRS. PHOEBE APPERSON HEARST has lived so long in California that she may almost be regarded as a native daughter of the Golden State.  But she was not born in the West.  She came to California in 1862, six months after her marriage to George Hearst, who later became United States Senator from California.  She was born in Franklin County, Missouri.  William Randolph Hearst, the newspaper owner and publisher, is her only child.


Mrs. Hearst has two homes in California, the famous Hacienda del Poso de  Verona, at Pleasanton, in Alameda County, and a chateau on the McCloud River, in the north.


At the Hacienda Mrs. Hearst presides as a princess over a splendid demesne.  Here she entertains in a lavish manner at big affairs of public import or at the small, intimate functions incident to her social position.


All over the world Mrs. Hearst is known as the Lady Bountiful of California, and as the First Lady of the State.  For this reason, and because she is personally loved by those who are privileged to know her, she was chosen to be the honorary president of the Women's Board of the exposition, which body is now dispensing the State's hospitality at the California Host Building at the exposition.


Her philanthropies, public and private, her generosity to institutions of learning, and enterprises of scientific research, her kindly nature and sweet, womanly graciousness to all with whom she comes in contact have placed her at the top of the long list of California women held in high esteem by the general public and in the deepest affection by those who come within the charmed circle of her personal friendship.


Sources: California Magazine, San Francisco, 1915. Page 370-373.

© 2002 Nancy Pratt Melton