This Month in Real Estate History – February 2010: Eighty years ago almost all REALTORS® were men. That didn’t stop women’s organizations from forming, including the Realtus Club in Columbus, Ohio.
Membership was open to the wives of all members of the Columbus Board. In February 1924, Realtus Club President Mrs. William Schleckman reported a membership numbering 42 that gathered on the second Tuesday night of the month. Dinner was followed by a business meeting and then a program. The program topic might be interior decorating, landscape gardening, civic matters, art or literature. Guest speakers sometimes addressed the members.
Mrs. Schleckman said the club was valuable to its members at national and state conventions. “Here husband Realtors are usually well acquainted while a feeling of strangeness exists among the many women,” she wrote. “The Realtus Club has been instrumental in the elimination of (that) sense of loneliness substituting therefore a camaraderie which has made attendance at conventions a pleasure for the visiting ladies.”
The 1920s witnessed other movements of women into real estate. In the Pacific Northwest the “Realtyettes” aimed to include all women who worked in real estate offices, but the group was short-lived. In 1927 the National Association’s governing board authorized a committee to meet with the Realtyettes and determine if a women’s organization was feasible under the National Association’s umbrella. Respected leaders like Phillip V. W. Fry of Portland, Walter J. Ruediger from Belleville, Illinois, and future NAR President Walter S. Schmidt of Cincinnati studied the possibility. But it would take another eleven years before the Association’s first national meeting for women in real estate. At the 1938 national convention in Milwaukee 37 women from nine states met at the Schroeder Hotel, and the Women’s Council of REALTORS® was born.