Meridian Occident Club

Providing Community Service to Meridian, Idaho from 1924-1996

Contents: The Occident Club | The Occident Club and The Library | The Occident Club and The Emergency Closet | The Occident Club and Politics | About the Occident Club Collection | Tech

The Occident Club

The Meridian Occident Club was founded on June 19, 1924 as a women’s organization determined to work toward the betterment of Meridian, Idaho in any civic or social capacity. Examples of the club’s community work include providing flour and clothing donations to the Red Cross during the Great Depression, the purchasing of war bonds and the filling of army kits to support the military during World War II, and the organization of an “Emergency Loan Chest” in which those in the community without the means to purchase medical equipment could take out their needed items on loan. The most significant impact of the Occident Club, however, was the library. As the age of the club’s membership increased, and new members decreased, the club eventually held its last meeting in January 1996 and finalized the donation of its remaining funds into community needs.

The Occident Club and The Library

The longest lasting legacy of the Meridian Occident Club is their creation of a Meridian public library. Having started the first community traveling library at Songer Pharmacy in September 1924 (with only six books), the library continued to grow under the club’s direction for fifty years. In 1930, during the Great Depression, the club purchased its first clubhouse building, which was also to house the library. The club organized fundraisers to keep the library functional, and even paid off their building loan debt by 1939. In subsequent decades, continued club fundraisers, such as pancake breakfasts, allowed for Meridian residents to maintain access to both books and other library services. Unfortunately, as the surrounding community continued to grow in population the library became too difficult for the women of the Occident Club to maintain. In May 1974, just before the opening of a newly remodeled library containing 13,000 books, the club initiated legal steps to turn control of the library over to the city in order to form a library district. The Meridian Library District continues to this day. Any individual that has ever checked out a book or recieved any other service from the Meridian Library District owes their access to these resources to the early efforts of the women of the Occident Club.

The Occident Club and The Emergency Closet

The Occident Club’s “Emergency Closet” (also referred to as “Emergency Chest”) was initiated as a project by the club on October 4, 1943. The purpose of the Emergency Closet was to help those unable to afford medical equipment have access to this equipment on a loaned basis. Through fundraising and donations the Occident Club bought or recieved hospital beds, bedpans, crutches, oxygen machines, wheelchairs, etc. The club’s committee over the Emergency Closet helped keep track of all the medical equipment both loaned out and returned, as well as recieving donations of money or items. Through this effort, the women of the Occident Club were able to make an impact on the health and welfare of many in the Meridian community.

The Occident Club and Politics

It is not surprising that a club of women focused on the betterment of their community and society were also focused on civic duty and politics. Minutes of their meetings throughout the history of the club indicate numerous pleas for club women to get out and vote in general elections (although these calls to vote were not directed toward any specific candidate). Not only was voting an important civic duty for these women, but the Occident Club believed in the importance of women having a seat in Idaho state politics and specifically desired more female politicans early in club history. Occasionally, elected leaders from both the state and local levels of government attended club meetings and addressed the women on a particular issue of concern. Over time, the Occident Club drew attention to many social issues and took firm stands. In the early 1930s, the club created communication with state representative Maude Cosho, who addressed the group on “Women in Politics.” In 1932, club members supported Representative Cosho’s efforts to secure the right of women to serve on juries. Apart from specific women centric social issues, club members took an active effort in anti-tuberculosis politics, suburban development concerns, Indian Affairs, and other concerns both in and outside the Gem State.

About the Occident Club Collection

This collection on the Meridian Occident Club contains digital scans of monthly club minutes, yearbooks (containing meeting agendas for each year), and photos. However, this digital collection is not an exhaustive collection of Occident Club material. The Meridian Library District continues to hold many objects of historical value that have yet to be digitized. The goal is for this collection to continue to be updated in the future as funds and means allow. For educational and research use only. Copyright restrictions may apply. User is responsible for all copyright compliance. Please contact the History Center at or 208-888-4451, ext. 1023 for further information. The Meridian Library District is not liable for any violations of the law by users.

Technical Credits - CollectionBuilder

This digital collection is built with CollectionBuilder, an open source framework for creating digital collection and exhibit websites that is developed by faculty librarians at the University of Idaho Library following the Lib-Static methodology.

Using the CollectionBuilder-CSV template and the static website generator Jekyll, this project creates an engaging interface to explore driven by metadata.

More Information Available

Technical Specifications
IMLS Support