Monday Study Club keeps going after 107 years

Mary Lou Gregory has been part of the Monday Study Club since 1995 and she loves being part of it. Gregory, formerly a school librarian, loves to learn. She especially loves to learn with the steady roster of fellow women who are in the group.

“It’s the people and that we get to dig into a topic,” Gregory said.

One of Gregory’s peers, Joni Hildreth, discussed her favorite part of the women-only and by-invitation only group.

“You always learn something. I’ve never left a meeting where I didn’t learn something,” Hildreth said. “I love that.”

Here’s how the group runs, according to Gregory:

“One of the things that we do every year is choose a topic, a broad general topic,” Gregory said. “And then each of us chooses a sub-topic. We can stretch it as far as we want.”

Last year, they focused on Eastern Europe. Part of the lesson was on the war in Ukraine, including information about the general area, information about Russia, and the background information between the two countries so they could learn about how such a conflict arose and what led to it. And for the meeting when they presented research papers on Ukraine, Gregory made Borscht. The red beet soup is one of the most popular dishes, if not the most popular dish in Ukraine. It’s also quite popular throughout Eastern Europe.

“It was very educational,” Hildreth said.

And the year before that, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, so the Monday Study Club learned about the highest court in the United States.

“We decided we needed to learn more about how the Supreme Court works and the history of the Supreme Court,” Hildreth said. “It’s really wonderful to be open to learning something on a deeper level than just a newspaper article.”

The point is, they really get into a topic. Merry Jo Zimmer, another volunteer scholar in the group, said she got a confused reaction when she decided to become a club member.

“When you join, your friends and family say ‘Why on Earth? You’re not in high school, you’re not in college. Why on earth would you want to study and write a research paper? That’s crazy,’” Zimmer said.

Zimmer’s response?

“It’s fun,” Zimmer said.

Hildreth explained she loves to learn, especially because of how the Monday Study Club does it.

“It kind of keeps your skills a little sharper too,” Hildreth said. “The truth is, in 2023, anybody can sit down and read Wikipedia and learn what we’re learning. But to do this in a collective way and to share the information, it’s not really a discussion group. You do a presentation of a paper. And it’s usually 20-30 minutes when you’re speaking about your research.”

Gregory pointed out how it isn’t just a research group.

“The main thing is you’re trying to not only inform, but entertain a little bit,” Gregory said. “And so we usually try to find interesting aspects of whatever we’re doing our presentation on.”

One thing agreed on by the three women who recently spoke about the club was how they like the fact Aberdeen Timberland Library is so useful.

“What I also noticed is research has changed,” Zimmer said. “When we would pick our topic I would head to the library catalogs and start ordering books, gathering materials, and being hands on looking at the materials.”

And when the library doesn’t have the needed research or encyclopedias, it assists in another way, through an inter-library loan. Hildreth said the library once got her a book from out of state that provided needed information about a former politician.

“When I was researching the Supreme Court and I wanted something on Hugo Black, they got me a book from Oregon through an interlibrary loan,” Hildreth said. “I was really impressed that they’d go through that effort.”

The group of women is proud of the fact they keep meeting. They’ve got the records to prove it.

“At my house I have almost all of the stuff, including the minutes from the earliest meetings,” Gregory said.

The dates on the records say 1916, 1917 and 1918, which was during the first World War.

“You should put white gloves on to touch it,” Hildreth said.

In a 2001 article, The Daily World wrote about the club to commemorate the club’s 85th anniversary, including how it got started.

“Seven Aberdeen women got together to expand their minds intellectually,” the article said. “The Monday Study Club — married women interested in more than housework — was born at the first meeting on Oct. 23, 1916. Today it is celebrating its 85th anniversary.”

The article quoted the club’s former President Phyllis Jones as to the dynamic of the club.

“It’s a group that likes to learn,” Jones said.

In its now 108th year, the club will celebrate 108 years in October, Zimmer said.

“What strikes me is the curiosity of the people,” Zimmer said. “But I think it’s kind of a strange addiction when you get the topics and you start getting excited about it and you start delving into things and going down rabbit holes. I think what happens with me is there’s a question that comes up at some point.”

Zimmer recalled her first paper.

“The subject was the arts or something like that. I thought ‘that’s a little vague,’” Zimmer said. “But the question I kept going back to was ‘why are we attracted to one color over another? Why are we dressed well, it’s Christmastime and we’re all kind of themed here. Why did I paint the walls of my house yellow and not blue or something else?’ That was fascinating, just digging into it, and how do our eyes work and how do we perceive color, and the scientific (part) of it. Just digging into the subjects is part of the fun.”

Zimmer realized she’s honed another skill — writing.

“I think that’s gonna pay off,” Zimmer said. “Writing is much easier.”

Hildreth doesn’t want to lose her talents that she uses in the club. Neither do her peers.

Gregory then summarized the importance of continuing the group’s search for knowledge.

“If your world’s not expanding a little bit, it’s contracting,” Gregory said.

Contact Reporter Matthew N. Wells at

The two pages show the names of deceased members of the Monday Study Club, which has run for 107 years. The page on the right shows a list of the topics the club has researched since 2000. (Matthew N. Wells / The Daily World)

The two pages show the names of deceased members of the Monday Study Club, which has run for 107 years. The page on the right shows a list of the topics the club has researched since 2000. (Matthew N. Wells / The Daily World)