The Binghamton (NY) Chapter is proud to be celebrating its 40th Anniversary in the Women’s National Book Association. Founded in November of 1962, ours is the only small-city chapter of the WNBA.
The late Jeannette Clarke Lee of Binghamton, an editor and supervisor at Vail-Ballou Press, was the chapter’s founder and first president. Her many years of dedication to the WNBA has been a continual source of inspiration to all of our members.
The chapter held its first meeting on January 25, 1963, at Harpur College, now known as Binghamton University. An initial membership of 25 included booksellers, librarians (public, school and special), editors, and representatives from Vail-Ballou Press. Over the years we have added local authors, poets, publishers, storytellers, and story lovers to the list.
Throughout our forty-year history, the chapter has brought many outstanding book-related programs to the greater Binghamton area. In the early years, one of our most successful events was the Book and Author Dinner, co-sponsored with The Press and Sun Bulletin. Ruth Disbrow started this series of a dozen annual dinners featuring nationally prominent authors in 1967. This effort was continued with a Local Author Book Fair in 1983, three Local Author Brunches beginning in 1985, and three Local Author Receptions held in the 1990’s. A plaque, donated by the chapter, with the names of honored authors hangs in the Broome County Public Library.
Over the years, the Binghamton Chapter has reached out to the book community with a diversity of supportive programs. In addition to recognizing the works of local authors, we have acknowledged the value of small, independent book publishers in the region.
The chapter has also been a consistent advocate of literacy in the community through book donations to various children and family organizations. For many years, we sponsored an annual “Excellence in Writing” competition for 6th grade students in Broome County school districts.
More recently, the chapter initiated a similar writing opportunity for Literacy Volunteer students.
In 1997, the chapter broadened its reach by sponsoring Tellabration!–the first major storytelling event in New York’s Southern Tier. Our chapter’s continued support of storytelling has been instrumental in bringing some of the best storytellers in the country to our region.
The Binghamton Chapter is also a longtime member of the Broome County Status of Women Council, an umbrella organization for numerous local women’s groups. Many of our members have received the Council’s “Woman of Achievement” Award.
Looking ahead, the chapter is planning a Local Poets Reception in the spring of 2003, with the primary purpose of bringing together recognized regional poets and young teens who have become seriously involved in spoken word poetry in the community.