Category Archives: AAUW Sacramento 100th Anniversary

How It All Began for AAUW in Sacramento by Nancy Lawrence

On Feb. 25, 1920, 41 women met to form the Sacramento Branch of the Association of Collegiate Alumni (to become AAUW in 1921) after two newcomers to Sacramento brought the idea of college graduate women uniting to support education in the local area. The majority of the women were graduates of Stanford or the University of California; smaller numbers were from Mills, Vassar, Radcliffe, College of the Pacific, etc. Many of the original members were high school teachers such as Belle Cooledge, Sacramento’s first woman mayor.

The original “sections” or interest groups the branch offered were drama, legislation and education. The decade saw the addition of a modern novel section, new discoveries in food, and international studies. Branch members joined in coalitions with other civic organizations to promote better education, health and housing. The branch fully supported the effort to create a junior college here in 1921 and opposed tariffs on books and scientific instruments.

One issue the new branch advocated for in the 1920s was to increase teachers’ annual retirement income from $500 to $750. Dues for the branch increased over the decade from $1 to $2. At the same time, the branch raised $3,000 to create a loan fund for women going to college. One of the problems, as you might imagine, was recovering the loans. In later years that program became the scholarship program that we continue today.

Branch meetings through the decade always hosted speakers (most of them men) on serious topics that sound familiar today: Do Colleges Educate?, The School as the Burden Bearer, Post-war Resettlement of Refugees, Tariffs. Somewhat quaintly today, the meetings always included a musical performance by members. One meeting, perhaps before Big Game, had members singing the Cal and Stanford fight songs!

Women had gotten the vote in California in 1911, nine years before the 19th amendment was passed in the year of our founding. Yet in 1925, the branch voted against supporting a version of the Equal Rights Amendment by a 19-18 vote. Perhaps we should explore what that version of the ERA actually called for.

A glimpse of our founding decade indicates that many things don’t change, but community activism has been part of Sacramento Branch’s mission since our founding.



Funds Update by Kathleen Asay, Funds Co-Director

As our Anniversary Fund nears completion, it’s natural — and fun — to think about the potential recipients of our namesake grants. So I asked branch member Sue Bordner what it’s been like for her. Sue was California AAUW president from 1994 to 1996, and, as has been the tradition with California presidents, a fund was created in her name when her term in office ended. In Sue’s case, it’s an American Fellowship, which is awarded annually to women engaged in full-time study to complete dissertations, conduct postdoctoral research or prepare research for publication. Begun in 1888, American Fellowships is the oldest and largest of AAUW’s fellowships and grants programs.

It is possible to look at to find Sue’s fellowship and the names and projects of the winning recipients. Sue even had the opportunity to meet three of them — Jan Goggans, Kimberly M. Parke and Kristina Smith — and has information on two. Goggans, 2001-2002, was at UC Davis for a Ph.D. in modern American literature/American nature writing, focusing on Dorothea Lange. Parke, 2002-2003, attended UC Berkeley, exploring the intersection of science and music. Other grantees have worked in business administration, law and social policy, robotics, women’s health policy, racial identity in Costa Rica, gender and the sense of belonging, personality consequences in wild vervet monkeys, and engineering for better water quality. What an education we might get if we could put these women in a room and listen to their conversation! How proud Sue must be to know that her name grant is forever linked to their accomplishments.

AAUW attempts to place grant recipients with a fund donor in the same geographical area, making it easier for the two to meet. We have much to anticipate!

Late Breaking News

Our 100th Anniversary R & P Grant is funded! Details next month.

We Want to Hear your AAUW Story! by Linda Whitney

At AAUW’s National Convention in Washington, D.C., last June, Gloria Yost and I attended a workshop on “Telling Your Story.” We heard about some amazing women who made positive differences in their communities. Some changed what was happening in our country and the world. For example, First Lady Lou Henry Hoover was an AAUW member and two-term National President of the Girl Scouts. During her tenure, the Girl Scouts began their first cookie sale.

We know some women in the Sacramento Branch have helped make positive changes in our branch, our city, and our state. Wouldn’t it be great if those women shared their stories with all of us?

The 100th Anniversary of the founding of the Sacramento Branch is in February 2020. A group of us are working to gather stories that help tell the story of interesting (and sometimes amazing) things Sacramento branch members have done over the past 100 years. Do you have a story relating to our branch that you could share? We are looking for all types of stories, from major contributions to special events, friendships, funny anecdotes and more. Click here for the form to share your story.

The Countdown to 2020 Has Begun! by Gloria Yost

1928 AAUW Sacramento Roster

With the kickoff at the December meeting, AAUW Sacramento has begun the run up to our 100th birthday in 2020. Over the next two years, stories about AAUW, its members, issues we’ve supported, and the impact our organization and its members made in our city, state and nation will be shared in Capitol Ideas. We start the sharing of information with five questions:

DID YOU KNOW…that when the Sacramento Branch began in February 1920, it was one of Northern California’s largest women’s organizations with 800 members?

DID YOU KNOW…that the Sacramento Branch was actually part of the Association of Collegiate Alumnae when it was organized?

DID YOU KNOW…that the purpose of the Sacramento Branch was to unite college women in our vicinity with the national organization in working on educational, civic, and social problems?

DID YOU KNOW…that in 1921 the national organization changed its name to the American Association of University Women; however, its purpose remained the same?

DID YOU KNOW…that Sacramento Branch Records are archived at the Center for Sacramento History?