During World War I, Secretary of War Newton D. Baker sent out an urgent call to make women more active in the war effort. The War Work Council, composed of members of the Young Women’s Christian Association, took the initiative in calling a conference in New York City on May 11 and 12, 1918, to discuss the advisability of establishing a nation-wide association of business and professional women. Five organizers were sent to various parts of the country to enlist the interest of existing groups of business and professional women and to establish additional clubs in each state.

In July 1919, representatives of these clubs convened at St. Louis, Missouri. The meeting was attended by 212 women representing every state but three. These women formed a permanent, independent organization, The National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, to promote the interests of business and professional women. Bylaws were adopted and the Federation received its certificate of incorporation on July 18, 1921, as a non-profit corporation under the laws of the state of New York. “A Better Business Woman for a Better Business World” was the slogan adopted to indicate the program of the Federation