History of The Nakoma League

The Nakoma League is a neighborhood social and charitable group. All residents of Nakoma are automatically members of the league. The Nakoma District Welfare League, as it was called when it was founded in May 1920, was formed by a group of 30 Nakoma women when there were 26 homes in the neighborhood. Today, there are nearly 700.

The purpose of the league, according to its original articles of organization, was “the uplifting of humanity, the relieving of distress, the lending of a helping hand to those in need, be they rich or poor, the giving of ourselves to do for others.” Eventually, the league emphasized more social gatherings, yet retained its aim to do charitable work as a secondary goal. Although the league’s activities have changed over the years as women’s lifestyles have changed, its purpose today remains true to that of its 1941 revised constitution: “to promote neighborliness and friendliness among its members and to contribute to the welfare of the community.” The Nakoma League is not a political association and does not take a position on any political or city issues. A neighborhood association was formed in 1974 for this purpose, but it was active only a year or two.

The league began as a women’s group, which met in a neighborhood home one afternoon each month. Its first work was the piecing of a quilt. Some of the league’s other early welfare projects included providing food and clothing for those in need, paying tuition for two worthy girls to become teachers, and sewing curtains, doll clothes and nightgowns for local hospitals. The league donated furniture, kitchen equipment and books to Nakoma School and filled Christmas baskets for the Salvation Army. For five years, the league sent a rose and bud to each new mother in the neighborhood and flowers to each Nakoma home where a death had occurred.

meeting.jpgThe ladies’ afternoon meetings always featured refreshments and socializing, as well as entertainment or an educational program. Typical agendas included vocal selections, piano recitals, dramatic performances or poetry readings by neighborhood women. They also discussed books and shared stories of their travels abroad. University professors were frequent guest lecturers. In September of 1934, Professor Aldo Leopold addressed the ladies of the Nakoma League, who met at the Nakoma Country Club, to talk about construction plans for the University of Wisconsin Arboretum.

Many prominent Madisonians have lived in Nakoma. Buildings all over town bear their names. While some of these men were busy as leaders of the University of Wisconsin and in business, their wives were busy leading the Nakoma League. Mrs. T.R. Truax, for example, was secretary/treasurer of the league during its 1930-1931 program year. Her husband, Thomas R. Truax, was the chief of the Timber Processing Division at the U.S. Forest Products Laboratory and a member of the Wood Technology Committee of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization. Their son, Thomas R. Truax, Jr., was an Army Air Corps pilot during World War II, for whom Madison’s Truax Field is named.