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Marion Talbot, a recent graduate of Boston College, at the urging of her mother, invited 16 alumnae from eight Eastern and Midwestern Colleges and Universities, including two from the University of Wisconsin, to meet at her home in Boston. This was an era when few women achieved higher education and there was little work or encouragement for those that did. Discouraged by the lack of opportunities available to them, the women discussed how they would together to help other women attend college and assist those who had already graduated. The word spread and in just one year there were 65 members.
The Association of Collegiate Alumnae continued to grow and by had nearly 1, members.
A study to refute this accusation was the first research undertaken by the Association of Collegiate Alumnae. Warren Harding.
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InMilwaukee founded the first branch of the Association of Collegiate Alumnae in Wisconsin and functioned in a statewide capacity. InMadison became the second official branch in Wisconsin. From toseven more branches were added in Wisconsin. On January 11,Mrs. The group voted unanimously to establish a local branch and elected a temporary chairman with power to appoint committees on nominations, membership, policies, and developing a constitution.
They knew they were embarking on something ificant and important. The proposed constitution was read, carefully reviewed, and then adopted.
Brindley, grandmother of present members Mary and Kathy Reiman, was elected the first branch president. Article 1. Name Section I. Article 2. Purpose Section I. The purpose of this organization shall be 1 to cooperate with the National Association in its general work and 2 to unite the college women of La Crosse and vicinity for social companionship and for the promotion of educational and other interests beneficial to the community. Article 3.
Membership Section I. There shall be national and local members. Any woman eligible to AAUW may become a national member.
Section II. Local members shall have had a minimum of one year academic work in college or universities on the accredited list of AAUW, or in such colleges or universities as may be added at the discretion of the Board of Directors. After ing the constitution, Mrs. Brindley, the new branch president, proposed four areas for further study: 1 equal pay for equal work; 2 assistance for needy students; 3 women on boards—local, state and national; and 4 education for intelligent voting.
These are the same issues we are working on today! We have made progress, but our work is far from done. Nothing less than eternal vigilance will keep us moving forward. We must continue going back to these same issues with renewed vigor! Our founding members were not just ladies that got together to have tea in their hats and gloves.
Keep in mind that this is Of the 48 charter members, twelve or one fourth had advanced degrees, mostly Masters of Science, but there was also a doctor, a dentist, and a Ph. As you would expect, most of the degrees were from the University of Wisconsin, but six were from Smith College, including our first president.
Another four received degrees from Columbia. Quite impressive indeed! Leona was Perhaps, they thought we were flying out of the nest too soon. Early monthly meeting of the branch were held in the now razed Cargill House that was on the corner of West Avenue and Cass Street. National AAUW had high standards for accrediting the colleges and universities from which they would accept graduates as national members.
Many private liberal arts colleges qualified immediately, as did many state universities. But even as late asonly 16 teachers colleges were eligible and none of them were in Wisconsin. Criteria for selection included high scholastic attainment; adequate provisions for women students including housing and physical education ; recognition of women in rank, salary, policy-making positions and faculty and administrative staff; intellectual freedom; and a sound basis of liberal arts education before specializing.
We have done many things over the years to raise money, including: card parties, candy, nuts, and stationery sales, and magazine subscriptions to name a few. A Scholarship Bridge Tournament as a fundraiser started inand for many years it was the main source of funds for our scholarships. This later became a study group and a fundraiser. A bridge group continues today and now includes other card games. Still another fundraising scheme involved Viterbo and La Crosse State students, who under AAUW sponsorship, worked as fashion models in local style shows.
Retail exhibitors paid modeling fees to AAUW rather than to the girls. The idea was to awaken s children to the pleasures and excitement of high-quality, live, dramatic entertainment—as opposed to the passive entertainment of commercial TV. Later productions focused more on folklore like Native American legends and Hmong cultural traditions.
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AAUW provided the actors and technical crews and area public schools sent thousands of students to watch the shows. This successful fund raiser continued for over 30 years. It was discontinued when many other organizations initiated Home Tours. The ever-popular Christmas Ball was first held in and people attended. The Christmas Ball was a viable fundraiser for various scholarships from It was a semi-formal dance and quite a prestigious and glamorous affair.
Special invitations were sent to all La Crosse college girls, at home or away, who in turn were expected to buy tickets, invite an escort, and enjoy an evening dancing. AAUW members were also invited. It was a great idea for its time and flourished for about twenty years until the social climate changed and students lost interest in dress-up parties. We were in luck because after the ball was over, fate would have it that the Art Fair on the Green would fall into our lap!
InDr. Dale Kendrick, a first year art professor at the college, ed the Fine Arts Association. To draw attention to the event, rising like a circus tent above the entrance to the Art Fair at State Street, was a huge parachute.
It belonged to Dale and he facilitated its use throughout the 60s. What an eye catcher that must have been!
Fromthe art fair was included in the Coulee Region Arts Festival. Inthe Fine Arts Association was dissolved and the college probably sponsored the fair. Then inAAUW takes over. The first chairman of the Art Fair was Joan Mrs. Edward Koonmen, an artist and mother of our Erica Koonmen.
In the s, the of artists and the proceeds continued to grow. Ina location move was made from the green in front of Main Hall to the larger space that we now occupy. During the s and 80s, the Art Fair was not the only source of scholarship funds. Home tour, Scholarship Bridge and other projects funded scholarships. However, Art Fair proceeds continued to pay for three high school girls to attend summer art camp and for grants each year throughout the decade to three Viterbo and three UW-L female art majors.
When inone of the UW-L scholarships went to a music student, the art department vehemently objected. The AAUW board passed a resolution that two scholarships would be granted the art department and that the third would be given to a student in the arts at the discretion of AAUW. A delicate balance was reached for our giving.
At the Fair itself that year, approximately artists participated. This was especially exciting because we were down to about 40 artists in Over the years, our scholarships have changed and how we fund them, but we continue to provide opportunities for higher education to talented and deserving students.
Today our chief fund raiser for scholarships is the Art Fair on the Green. Since our scholarship program began inwe have provided over a half million dollars in scholarships. Inthe branch set up our own Educational Foundation as a Wisconsin non-profit corporation. In addition to scholarships, we award grants to programs or projects that match our mission. There were also monthly branch meetings with stimulating and entertaining programs, and study groups to insure our life-long learning.
BookFellows is our longest running study group. She received a B. She was an English teacher and scholar, and most probably a single lady because there was no male name associated with hers. She initiated Bookfellows in for women who enjoyed delving into literary subjects. Helen was the president of the group from Each year a theme is selected and then members choose an author or book within the theme and present a paper for discussion.
Over the near- 80 years, there have been some second generation Bookfellows carrying out the tradition of their mothers. Alice Ross, the current co-chair of Contemporary Authors, recalls that the group meets at PM like Bookfellows because that was good time to find college students to babysit. Reports were provided monthly on La Crosse, its history and people.