The Spokane branch of AAUW was founded on October 9, 1909 at the home of Inez Delashmutt on Spokane’s south hill. Branch members enthusiastically supported both local and national projects, first as the Association of Collegiate Alumnae and then after 1921, as the American Association of University Women, and finally, as AAUW in 2009.
Our branch is a part of the national AAUW. The national association was founded in 1881 in Boston, MA. AAUW is the oldest and largest national organization working for the advancement of women.
The Spokane branch is extremely proud of its scholarship program which began in 1911. The scholarship fund has changed in nature over the last one hundred years but it is still in force today. For many years, 1952-1993, the scholarship program was funded by a yearly book sale. It is estimated that the book sale proceeds funded over seventy scholarships in the forty one years of the book sale.
In 2010, the branch voted to put our scholarship funds in the Community Colleges of Spokane foundation. The foundation manages the funds but the branch has set the criteria for who will be awarded the scholarship. The branch fund raiser “Dollars for AAUW scholars” was started in 2001 and continues today to raise money to donate to the Spokane Branch AAUW Scholarship, Community Colleges of Spokane Foundation.
One of the branch’s most unique projects was a free summer camp for working mothers and their children. It was begun in 1919 and was held during July and August each year until 1931.
The branch has always been active in Spokane. In the 1940’s the branch was active in the promotion and management of the children’s theatre and junior symphony. In the 1960’s it was the Thursday night at the library series. In the 1970’s the branch worked with other organizations to secure permanent funding for the neighborhood centers.
The branch supported the reinstatement of kindergartens in the Spokane public schools and worked hard to see that come about in 1974.
The creation of the Community Projects fund in 1987 is an asset that is used to finance projects throughout the Spokane community. In the last twenty-five years we have donated well over ten thousand dollars to different organizations. Our own branch project that receives these funds is Spo-can-read. It has purchased and distributed more than 2,000 fiction books to fourth grade children in 62 locations in Spokane.
Most of the information in this short history is from 2 books that the branch has published, “By the Falls: Women of Determination” written in 1988 by several of our branch members chaired by Hazel Barnes. The other “A Century of Breaking Barriers Spokane Branch 1909-2009″, written and researched by our member Karen I. Fishburn.