History of AAUW Missouri from 1893-2016
The merger of the Association of Collegiate Alumnae (ACA) with the Southern Association of College Women at the convention in St. Louis in 1921 created AAUW and its regions. Missouri became one of five state divisions in AAUW’s Southwest Central Region. Before the 1921 convention, ACA had encouraged formation of branches, and the six existing Missouri branches were represented at the convention: Kansas City, organized in 1893 and the oldest branch in the Southwest Central Region; St. Louis, organized in 1898; Columbia in 1907; Springfield in 1908; Maryville in 1918; and Warrensburg in 1920. Until sometime in the ‘90s, AAUW Missouri was called a Division, but it is now known as AAUW Missouri.
Throughout its history, the Division/AAUW Missouri has concentrated on issues related to the status of women and girls. It has lobbied for legislation and promoted education throughout the state at branch and state level. In the early days, international relationships were also a major concern, but after the national Association of AAUW severed its relationship with the International Federation of University Women (IFUW), these relationships ceased to be a major concern. AAUW Missouri continues to work for equity for women and girls through advocacy, education and philanthropy.
The Division was instrumental in the passage of a law in 1921 that required preschools. In 1949 it conducted a study that resulted in improved legislation for mental hospitals. In 1951, at the state convention, it urged its branches to help end segregation in public schools, and throughout the 1950s encouraged branches to support mental health and school appropriations, revise child welfare laws, and establish a Missouri law requiring equal pay for equal work. In 1963, a bill, written by Dr. Sara Feder as AAUW state legislative chair, was passed by the Missouri legislature. It called for equal pay for female employees. In 1965-67, the Division worked for and supported legislation for equal pay for equal work, the Economic Opportunity Act, and Head Start. In 1972-73 it began concerted efforts to support the Equal Rights Amendment and environmental issues. As a member of the Missouri Women’s Network, AAUW Missouri has regularly attended Legislative Day at the state Capitol, and individual members have lobbied for issues that concern women’s rights.
In the 1930s the Division made a study of financial aid for college undergraduates and a broad study of education in the state. In 1969 the Division gave $1000 to the Coretta Scott King Fellowship endowment fund. Several national AAUW endowments that provide scholarships for women are named for notable Missouri women: Blanche H. Dow, Mary Anne Parrish, Chloe E. Millikan and Leona J. Beckmann. In 2015-16 AAUW Missouri completed the endowment of the F. Elaine Richardson Missouri Endowment Fund. In recent years the state has provided scholarships for college women to attend the National Conference of College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL), and individual branches have continued to offer local scholarships to college and high school young women.
AAUW Missouri branches contributed annually to AAUW’s Educational Foundation (EF) and to the Legal Advocacy Fund (LAF). The Educational Foundation (now no longer a separate legal organization) provided fellowships to graduate women and grants to colleges and universities; the Legal Advocacy Fund supports women taking legal action against sex discrimination. AAUW Missouri continues to contribute to the reorganized Association Fund.
Butler, Grace B., ed., History of the American Association of University Women, Missouri, 1976-2010 (2011)
Dains, M.K. and S. Sadler, eds., Show Me Missouri Women: Selected Biographies, vols.1 and 2 (1989 and 1993)
Johnson, D. ed., A History of the Missouri Division of the American Association of University Women, 1946-1976, Written by the Kansas City Missouri Branch (1978)
Lowery, M.R., A History of the Missouri Division of the American Association of University Women, 1921-1946 (1946)
Parrish, M.A., B. Lester, and G. Newman, The Story of the Southwest Central Region of AAUW, 1926-1966 Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas (1966)
Parrish, M.A., Jeannette Pool, R.J Stuck, and Helen Coover, AAUW, the History of the Southwest Central Region, 1966-1976 (1976)
Witt, M.A., ed., Pause in Missouri: People, Places, Events (1979)