It was in Boston in 1881 that Marion Talbot and Ellen Richards and 15 other alumnae of eight colleges met to discuss forming an organization in which women college graduates might meet together to promote higher education for women.
The group grew quickly and in 1882 the American Association of University Women, AAUW, was formally organized with 65 graduates of eight colleges and universities. By its 50th anniversary in 1931 there were 36,800 members. And now, in 2013, there are 170,000 members and supporters and over 1000 branches. Today the mission of the AAUW is to advance equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy and research.
The Richmond Branch of the American Association of University Women was chartered in 1949 and later became the Richmond-El Cerrito branch and now is known as the West Contra Costa Branch. Our first organizational meeting was held March 30, 1949 with Erla Boucher as president. We had 17 charter members and by April grew quickly to 47 members. In June of 1957 we reached 100 members.
At our fiftieth anniversary in 1999 Winnie Sayre, president of our branch, said she considered the organization to be a bonding of women to promote common interest revolving around education. “There’s something energizing about working with other educated women for a common goal,” Sayre said.
Today this work includes scholarships for Contra Costa College students, a science camp for 7th grade girls, interest groups and educational monthly programs and volunteers at the Read Aloud program.