Several important, dedicated and determined women have lived in Campbell throughout the decades. This blog post explores two women who lived and worked in Campbell so much so that Campbell would not be the same without them.
Louisa Weitzenberg (1861 - 1950)
Louisa married Friedrich Weitzenberg in June of 1881 and moved to California from New Jersey. 34-year-old Louisa Weitzenberg nee Martin was appointed postmaster of the Campbell Post Office on July 3, 1895. She was the first female postmaster of Campbell and helped start the city’s rural free mail delivery service, the first service on the west coast in 1896. As postmaster, Weitzenberg supervised the post office departments and helped ready mail and packages for Campbell residents.
Since the 1800s, women have been appointed to postmaster positions in local post offices. However, hiring practices were still far from fair during this century. Women only made up a small percentage of post office or postmaster positions because of prejudiced hiring practices in which some hiring managers believed that married women should not hold paid positions, should be supported by their working husbands, or that women should be the primary childcare providers.
The appointment of Louisa to this position was progressive for the time period - it came before women had the right to vote and before it was considered socially acceptable for women to hold employment outside of the home. It is no doubt that Louisa Weitzenberg helped pave the way for Campbell’s twentieth century women that would hold the position after her and for women in the workforce everywhere.
Fanny Dana Merrill nee Janes (1878 - 1965)
Fanny Dana Merrill nee Janes was the daughter of Elijah Janes (Campbell’s first librarian) and Julia Farr Janes. Janes. Janes married Edward C. Merrill, a local orchard farmer.
In the early 1900s, along with her mother, Fanny served as one of the charter members of Campbell’s Country Woman’s Club (CWC). The CWC began in January 1905 as a small group of women came together dedicated to both civic and personal development.
Fanny and her fellow club members were responsible for many civic improvements of Campbell in the early twentieth century. In 1907, the club erected a one room building in town that would become Campbell’s first library. During the first and second world wars, their Campbell clubhouse was used for Red Cross sewing efforts where members sewed garments and bandages for those in need. In the 1950s, when Campbell became a city, early city council meetings were held in their clubhouse.
In a time when women's rights were limited, local chapters of Country Woman’s Clubs held meetings to make sure women’s voices were heard. Until the 19th Amendment granted American women the right to vote in 1920, these women's clubs were some of the best outlets for women to be heard and taken seriously in society.