AAUW Sacramento in the 1930s by Cherril Peabody

AAUW Sacramento’s second decade was an ominous one throughout the world. During the 1930s the worldwide economic depression deepened as millions of Americans lost their jobs and stood in line at soup kitchens or lived in camps. In Europe, Adolph Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany in 1933, assumed dictatorial powers, and started down a path toward world domination that culminated in World War II and the Jewish holocaust.

Many in the United States adopted an isolationist posture during the 1930s, determined to stay out of Europe’s problems. National AAUW’s advocacy reflected these views, like war neutrality and defense-only military programs. Yet it also promoted disarmament, world peace, the League of Nations and the World Court. Other issues National AAUW supported included education, consumer protection, federal employment based on merit as opposed to sex or marital status, and other issues affecting women and children.

National AAUW frequently asked branches to have members contact their Congressional representatives or the president in support of its positions, and our branch responded enthusiastically. Another priority was the establishment of a $1 million endowment for its fellowship program (later called Funds). Branches were expected to raise money to support this goal; Sacramento’s pledge was $2,000 in 1930.

The branch continued to grow during the 1930s. Total membership in May 1932 was 279; by March 1939, it had grown to 437. Many new sections were created: Drama, Social Studies, Music, South Pacific, Arts & Crafts and Recent Graduates. The number of book groups increased from 13 to 19.

The branch established a newsletter in 1934 and called it the AAUW Bulletin. Members gathered monthly for a luncheon, usually at the Senator Hotel. Meetings featured a speaker or a dramatic or artistic presentation. California Governor C.C. Young spoke at the April 1930 meeting about California’s state finances; 280 women attended, including representatives from other women’s groups (there were 99 in Sacramento!). The branch advocated for establishing a local dental clinic, supported Little House, a home for homeless teenage girls, and participated in other local activities like raising money for the Community Chest. In short, camaraderie, community spirit and increasing concern about world events marked the 1930s for AAUW Sacramento.