The last all-male Alfalfa Dinner (#TBT)


The all male Alfalfa Club held their annual dinner at the Capitol Hilton in Washington, D.C. on January 30, 1993. Members of the club are seen here socializing in the lobby of the hotel. (Annalisa Kraft / The Washington Post)

By 1993, women had long since infiltrated other formerly all-male ranks around Washington: Congress, the Cabinet, the National Press Club, and other elite institutions had been “co-ed” for decades.

But in that year, one organization was still holding out. Here’s an image from the last all-male dinner held by the Alfalfa Club, an exclusive social club made up of the city’s political and business elite that is set to gather on Saturday for its annual dinner. The photo, which looks like it could have been snapped in any year in the previous half-century, bore the winking caption: “The grand men of the Alfalfa Club, which may have been an all-male bastion for the last time Saturday night.”

President Clinton snubbed the gathering that year (the Post story blamed it on his “heavy workload” but it’s been described as a boycott of the hosts’ no-women policy), and the following year, the club would admit members with XX chromosomes: Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham, and Elizabeth Dole, then a former Cabinet secretary.

Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.

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Emily Heil · January 22, 2014

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