From the Stacks: Panama Canal Women’s Welfare Group

We recently stumbled upon this photo of women who seem to belong to a “Panama Canal Women’s Welfare Group.” Any help identifying the women pictured would be much appreciated.

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Do you remember the Panama Canal Women’s Welfare Group being very active in the Canal Zone? What kinds of excursions did these women go on? What was their mission or purpose? Did you know anyone in this group? What other organizations or clubs were prevalent in the Zone?

Thank you to all who contribute! Don’t forget to join us for the 2018 Panama Canal Society Reunion in Orlando from June 27 – July 1, 2018, there will be an exhibit about popular culture in the Panama Canal Zone on display.


  • carolyn dillon

    I never heard of the Panama Canal Woman’s Welfare Group, though there were undoubtedly things I never knew of in the 40 plus years I lived there. However, if some of these women were students or recent graduates; the women standing under the word “Welfare” could be Elaine Asbury. In front in white dress and dark shoes could be Amy Garcia, and the lady to the left in Panamanian straw hat and glasses could be elementary school teacher Ruth Morris, wife of Dr. Vestal Morris.

  • Elizabeth

    IS there a way to learn more about the Panama Canal Society reunion? Thank you for any information able to provide.

  • bkarrer2013

    sorry: never heard of this group, nor do I know any of the folks in the photo….. looks like 1960s from the clothes. Bob Karrer

  • Louiecel

    From Carmen Smith Neu


    My mother, Mercedes Alegre Smith (wife of J. Bartley Smith, Electrical Engineer) is the second woman from the left in the sombrero penonomeño. The woman in front in the dark dress is Marie Browder (wife of Ed Browder whose position I don’t recall). Eighth from left is Emily Johnson (wife of Howard Johnson, Port Captain).

    I don’t know what the Panama Canal Women’s Welfare Group did, but this photo was taken in Panama, not the CZ.

    My mother also belonged to the Interamerican Women’s Club and the Penwomen’s Club.

    It’s always nice hearing from you!

    Fondly, Carmen Smith Neu

  • Robert Baldwin

    I vaguely remember a group like this led by the Governor’s wife, which was made up of Canal employee wives, including those of senior staff members. I think that my mother, Laura Baldwin, was part of the group (my father, Frank Baldwin, was the Panama Canal Information Officer), but I do not recall if it was this one.

    I feel certain that the woman on the right next to the man (with her right foot raised) is Mrs. Betty Parker, Governor Parker’s wife, so this photo would have been taken during their time in the Canal Zone, starting in 1971. I looked back to the digitized edition of The Spillway dated March 27, 1975, which included articles about both Mrs. and Governor Parker as they departed the Canal Zone. The article about Mrs. Parker talks about the many civic activities she was involved in and lists several organizations, but it does not mention this one.

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