So We Can All Be Heard. . .
by Marlene Cook, IWPA Historian
It's that time of year, when IWPA members begin thinking about entering the
Mate E. Palmer Communications Contest.
Who is Mate E. Palmer and why is our contest named for her? Mate E. Palmer was the ninth president of the Illinois Woman's Press Association, serving from 1907 to 1909. During her term, meetings were held on Saturday afternoons at members' private homes, with each hostess providing the program.
According to our history book, So We All Can Be Heard, Palmer was the editor of Banner of Gold and was a publisher and a writer of essays, short stories and special features. Doesn't seem like a reason to name a contest for her.
She served on the executive board of IWPA from 1903 to 1904, and she was chairman of the editor's section of the membership, a frequent member of the social committee, chairman of the editorial committee and an alternate delegate to the National Editorial Association's national conference in St. Louis, Mo. She served as vice-president of IWPA and was on the Board of Editors for The Memory Book, a 1914 IWPA publication. Still no reason to name a contest for her.
She was married to C. L. Palmer when she died in 1939. She bequeathed $500 to one Salie Quale, who had cared for her during her illness. Miss Quale gave that money to IWPA to establish a writing contest in Palmer's memory. Now, there's a good reason.
The Mate E. Palmer Communications contest began in 1941 and continues to this day as one of the most important functions of IWPA. Categories in that first contest included best fiction, best news story or newspaper feature, best general magazine article, best professional or business magazine article, best poem, and best drama, including radio scripts.
As technology expanded, and women writers embraced the broadened media opportunities, the Mate E. Palmer Communications contest also broadened its scope. Today there are 92 categories, most with sub-categories, covering every imaginable aspect of writing, editing, photography, electronic media, advertising and public relations.
So We All Can Be Heard… celebrates the history of IWPA. In each article, Historian Marlene Cook provides a glimpse into our history from a variety of resources, including the book by the same title written by Donna Duesel De La Torriente. Donna chronicled IWPA from 1885 through 1987. Do you have a piece of IWPA history to share? Please submit your items to MarWrites@aol.com.
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