Celebrating 136 Years of AAUW
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During this season of giving thanks, we honor the group of visionary women who founded AAUW 136 years ago on November 28, 1881.
On that day, Marion Talbot, then a recent graduate of Boston University, and Ellen Swallow Richards, the first woman graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, invited 15 alumnae from eight colleges to a meeting in Boston. Among the first generation of women college graduates, these pioneering women struggled with a lack of career opportunity. In founding AAUW, they discussed how they would join together to help other women break through educational barriers and attend and graduate college as well as assist those who had already graduated.
The rest is history. Today, AAUW boasts 170,000 members and supporters, more than 100 student orgs, 800 college and university members, and more than $100 million awarded to women scholars and projects.
When you’ve been around for as long as AAUW has, you find that longevity has its perks. You get to brag about all the amazing people you’ve known and helped over the years, and you get to reflect on the historical moments you’ve experienced. So in the spirit of birthday bragging, here’s a list of some of the best things that we’ve been around to see since our founding in 1881.
Founded on November 28, 1881, AAUW is older than
1. The Eiffel Tower (completed in 1889)
Did you know that the Eiffel Tower, created for the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris, was only meant to last 20 years? We, too, were hoping that the fight for equity wouldn’t need to be around for very long, yet here we are.
2. Ferris wheels (first built in 1893)
The Americans were not to be outdone by the French. In 1892, the call went out to civil engineers for a structure that would rival the Eiffel Tower at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. That’s how George Ferris ended up building his famous wheel.
3. Radios (invented in 1895)
4. The Lincoln Memorial (completed in 1922)
From our headquarters on I Street NW, which we moved into in 1921, we could almost watch as they finished construction on one of America’s most historic monuments.
5. The Hollywood Sign (completed in 1923)
Like us, this West Coast landmark hasn’t always had the same name. The original sign actually spelled out Hollywoodland. It wasn’t until the late 1940s that the sign was changed to its current spelling.
6. The Empire State Building (completed in 1931)
By the time President Herbert Hoover pressed a button in Washington, D.C., to officially turn on the Empire State Building’s lights in 1931, we were already 50 years old and doing amazing things like educating women about cancer.
AAUW is also older than
Inventions and Discoveries
- Hole punches (1886)
- Automobiles (1886)
- Ballpoint pens (1888)
- Zippers (1893)
- Coca-Cola (1886)
- Electric toasters (1893)
- Paper clips (1899)
- Air-conditioning (1902)
- Airplanes (1903)
- E = mc2 (1905)
- Television (1927)
- Sliced bread (1928)
The First …
- Movie theater in the United States (1905)
- Dropping the New Year’s ball in Times Square (1907)
- Mass production moving assembly line (Ford Motor Company, 1913)
- Daylight Saving Time (1918 in the United States)
- Reader’s Digest (1922)
- Winter Olympic Games (1924)
- Talking-picture movies (1927)
- Appearance of Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse on film (1928)
- The Rhodes Trust (1902)
- Rotary Club (1905)
- The Boy Scouts of America (1910)
- The Girl Guides of America, later renamed the Girl Scouts (1912)
- S. Coast Guard (1915)
- The National Park Service (1916)
- National Organization for Women (1966)
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AAUW was part of one of the most important gatherings of women in history.