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Women in Credit & the Birth of the CFDD National Scholarship Fund

“Although before 1910 there were sporadic cases, it was between 1910 and 1920 that the woman in the credit work became an established institution,”
wrote J. H. Tregoe, the Secretary-Treasurer of the National Association of Credit Men in the June issue of Credit Monthly.

His article went on to report that, “Nowadays at meetings of local associations, it is seldom that women members are not present. The larger local associations carry many women on their active membership lists.”

J. H. Tregoe,
Read more in the
NACM History
Timeline . . .

Mildred C. Malton,
Treas., Malton Specialty Co., Boston, Mass.

Wiley Ain,
of W. Ain & Company, Converters of Cotton Goods in New York

Jean N. Cushing,
Chief Accountant in charge of credit, the Weitzel Lumber Company in Philadelphia, PA

Blanche Finley,
Credit Manager for Richard Hudnut, Perfumer, New York

Margaret E. Forman,
General & Credit Manager, Samuel Sherman Manufacturer of Leather Luggage, New York

Agnes Ferguson, M. Sharaf & Company, Neckware  Manufactuers, Boston, MA

Florence Kurtz,
Assistant Treasurer and Secretary, J. A. Deknatel & Son, Brooklyn, NY

Margaret M. Scanlon,
Assistant Credit Manager, the Vacuum Oil Company, Philadephia, PA

Gertrude M. Schaffer,
Treasurer, Republic Bag & Paper Company

Esther Wittstein,
American Lead Pencil Company, New York

M. D. Murphy,
L.D. Berger Company, Tinners Supplies, Philadelphia, PA

Laura Wyatt,
Credit Manager, William R. Warner & Company, manufacturing pharmaceuticals in New York

Edna S. Taylor,
Assistant Secretary and Credit Manager, A.K. Schwenk Company, wholesale woolens, Philadephia, PA

G. S. Moore,
Credit Manager, Patterson, Gottfried & Hunter, machinery, metals and hardware in New York

May H. Wilsey,
Credit Manager and Office Manager for Greenebaum Bros. & Co., Philadelphia, PA

The July 1925 issue of Credit Monthly reported: “Under the energetic leadership of Miss Florence E. Banks, of the Los Angeles Soap Company, a breakfast was held for the women credit managers in attendance at the NACM Convention in Washington, DC, in 1925. There were about 40 women credit managers present and there was a general discussion of methods to improve the technique of credit granting in the many different lines represented at the meeting. It is believed that a meeting of this character will become a permanent feature of our Annual Conventions.”  During this era, credit women met separately during the annual convention.

In 1927, the Credit Monthly reported that, “Although there seems to be no immediate possibility that a ‘National Association of Credit Women’ will soon be organized, the women credit executives and assistants to credit managers through the National Association of Credit Men in the past few years have become increasingly conscious of themselves as a group. Until the latter part of 1929, no effort extending through the National Association of Credit Men had been made to recognize women credit managers as a somewhat specialized group with common interests, or to provide opportunities within the local associations themselves to encourage the exchange of ideas among members of the group.”

A definite step in this direction was taken when, at the suggestion of NACM President William H. Pouch, “Ladies’ Committees were organized in each of the three [geographic] divisions of the Association.” Mr. Pouch brought his idea for this organization before the Board of Directors at the Atlantic City meeting in September 1926, where the appointment of such committees was approved by the Officers and Directors present.

The Ladies’ Committee from the Eastern Division held a meeting on December 1, 1926 at the Hotel Vanderbilt in New York City. Led by Committee Chairman, L. M. Guth, credit manager of the Plaza Music Company, it was noted that in many cases, women credit managers or assistants were actually handling credit, but that men were representing their firms in the Association.

One of the suggestions brought forward during this meeting was that "the Ladies’ Groups should comprise not only representatives of their concerns, but also assistants in credit departments, in order to arouse interest in the group movement and make them better members of their profession, should they later become heads of their departments and candidates for direct membership in the National Association of Credit Men." During this meeting, it was resolved that “one of the principal objectives of the Ladies’ Group would be membership in the groups and the local associations, and that the ‘program of the groups should be chiefly educational’.”

NACM President Pouch, who visited 19 local associations during his year as president, was quoted as saying to female credit managers in the Los Angeles area, “We expect to find women as secretaries, bookkeepers or assistants to credit manager, but here you are the whole thing.” President Pouch called attention to the fact that “for seven years in Los Angeles, women have had an organization such as has recently been started in the East.” President Pouch told of “the uproar when one woman, representing a firm with a membership in the National Association, demanded admittance to credit meetings once in 6 months. In New York at one time, we allowed women as a privilege to just sit in the gallery and look on, while you in the West were running things to suit yourselves, and doing in 5 years what it took the men 30 years to accomplish.”

“The growing interest of the women of the National Association of Credit Men in their groups and education for better credit work among them is a natural result of the recognition of the fact that better work in any profession is aided by an exchange of ideas among its members.”

A Scholarship Fund is Established

In 1963, NACM Chairman Jasper C. Osborne recognized the inception of the Helena R. Pouch Scholarship during the General Session of the Annual Convention when he proclaimed, “We think it is very appropriate at this time to pay homage and respect to the memory of the late Helena R. Pouch, widow of past National President, William H. Pouch, for her thoughtfulness in bequeathing a legacy to the Association for the education of women in the field of credit management. Our appreciation is best expressed in the educational fund known as the Helena R. Pouch National Credit Women’s Scholarship.”

“Mrs. Pouch was particularly remembered for the assistance she gave in 1926, when her husband was President of the NACM, in arranging a program for credit women delegates including the first Credit Women’s Breakfast meeting at the National Credit Congress in New York. Mrs. Pouch took such delight during her active years in attending special luncheons and banquets of the Credit Women at Annual Conventions, and was particularly remembered for the inspirational invocations she gave at these occasions.  NACM agreed to hold the legacy which Helena R. Pouch bequeathed to the NACM for the education of women in the credit profession in a trust fund and expressed, deep appreciation for what this great lady accomplished, not only for the education of credit women but for the furtherance of the educational program of NACM.”

The Graduate School of Credit & Financial Management and NACM’s National Institute of Credit announced the winners of the first Helena R. Pouch Scholarship in 1964.  Any member of a Credit Woman’s Group affiliated with NACM was eligible for a scholarship, which was planned to be offered to one woman in each of the four geographic divisions of NACM.  The applications were reviewed by a scholarship committee, comprising three men who were leaders in business and education and active members of both NACM and the Credit Research Foundation. Alice M. Schindler, administrative assistant of the Diamond Alkali Company in Cleveland, Ohio, was named the recipient of a full tuition scholarship to one session of the GSCFM’s Darmouth session.

Correspondence courses were also awarded in 1964 as Helena R. Pouch Scholarships to Mary Margaritis of US Steel Company in Baltimore, Maude W. O’Brien, Credit Manager for Jones Lumber Company in Houston, Texas, Betty Ottoson of the accounting department for the Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce, and Nina Dragoo of California Hardware Company in Los Angeles.

On June 30, 1969, a scholarship in memory of a National Secretary of the Credit Women’s Group, Marie Ferguson Braney, was established by the National Credit Women’s Executives Committee. The Marie Ferguson Braney Scholarship would be awarded to an outstanding credit woman to be used for a personal advancement course. Many local Credit Women’s Groups also donated contributions to the Marie Ferguson Braney Scholarship Fund. In May 1970, the first Marie Ferguson Braney Scholarship was awarded to Idella Palmen of Spokane, Washington.

The Scholarship Fund was further endowed when Patricia Grover named the National Credit Women’s Executive Scholarship Fund as the beneficiary of her Hunt-Wesson Profit Sharing Retirement and Investment Plan account. Ms. Grover said the “funds should be used for scholarship to the Mid-Career Program, as her preference.”

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