In 1881, AAUW was formed when a small group of like-minded women in Boston discovered they had no outlets for their education and few ways to serve their communities. The purpose was to unite alumnae of different colleges to accomplish practical educational work. The group was originally formed as the Association of Collegiate Alumnae. The fledgling organization welcomed the Western Association of Collegiate Alumnae in 1889 and the Southern Association of Collegiate Women in 1921. The combined organizations took the name The American Association of University Women.
Some of our branch highlights include:
* 1920s — In 1928, AAUW Monterey Peninsula Branch (MPB) is formed. It includes both Monterey and Salinas.
* 1930s — AAUW-CA holds the State Convention at Hotel Del Monte in Monterey. Monterey and Salinas become separate branches.
* 1940s — MPB members staff the USO and knit afghans, mittens and helmets for the Red Cross to assist with the war effort during W.W. II.
* 1950s — Monterey Peninsula Branch is incorporated. We begin to award scholarships to high school and Monterey Peninsula College students. The branch offers “Second Careers for Women” workshops to the community.
* 1960s — “Operation Update” begins. This series of mini-college refresher courses in science, social science, art and theater continues for 18 years. The branch initiates “Volunteers-in-Action.”
* 1970s — We staff classrooms so teachers can attend ecology workshops at Hopkins Marine Station. We begin advocating that Monterey Bay be designated a Marine Sanctuary. The branch helps establish the infant care center in Seaside.
* 1980s — We present “Pen Power” for members to meet for breakfast and write postcards to legislators regarding bills. Members participate in a historic cistern dig and discover pottery from an earlier era at Cooper-Molera Adobe. The branch organizes a Math-Science workshop for girls, which is held at Monterey Peninsula College (MPC).
* 1990s — We sponsor a Gender Inequity event featuring a diverse panel of women from different ethnic backgrounds. Members visit schools to study the needs of the “Forgotten Majority,” or students who do not plan to complete a four-year college degree program. We hold a Science and Math Conference for middle school girls at California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB).
* 2000s — The Child Development Center at the Monterey Presidio opens due in part to our support. Members revisit schools to review new programs for the “Forgotten Majority.” The branch partners with CSUMB to present its fifth Science and Math Conference called “What’s for Lunch?” The branch is given 501(c) 3 status for its Local Scholarship Program. We launch our first website.
* 2010s — During National Women’s History Month in 2010, we honor members Betty Van Meter and Mez Benton for their contributions to women’s education. The branch focuses on raising funds for the Local Scholarship and the Tech Trek Programs and we are able to offer more scholarships for both programs each year. The “Women of Distinction” program is established and honors Sheryl Mueller, Susan Murphy and Jan Smyth-Zeek as the first recipients. Alicia Hetman, president of AAUW-CA, is the guest speaker at an LAF event.
* 2020s — We begin the decade by honoring the legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by inviting Congresswoman Jackie Speier to talk with our members about RBG’s impact on legal justice and equity. Each year, we feature one of the AAUW Fund grantees/fellows as a guest speaker to tell us about her journey towards achieving her professional aspirations and describing the nature and goals of her current educational project. In 2023 at the IBC meeting with the Santa Cruz Branch, our guest speaker was Zoe Lofgren who shared her experience as a member of the January 6th House Committee Investigation and her outreach to the parts of the Salinas Valley that were now in her Congressional district.