100 Years and Counting!
We celebrated our Centennial on the St. Cloud State University campus where our branch began by taking
a music-and-memories stroll through the decades since our founding in 1922.
Costumed characters recounted our branch’s achievements, high points, and our community contributions as well as its evolution into the vital organization it is today.
We remembered past members and welcomed new. And, an opened time capsule revealed a collection of memorabilia that had been put aside when the group marked a previous anniversary.
1920 – 1929
- On February 14, 1922, a group of women college graduates met at the A.B. Mitchell home for the purpose of organizing the St. Cloud Branch of the American Association of University Women. There were 31 charter members with Mrs. A.J. Tschumperlin serving as the president, Miss Ruth Mitchell as vice-president, Mrs. John H. Gale as the secretary, and Miss Helen Hill as the treasurer. Hill Hall at SCSU was named in her honor. At that time, SCSU was called the College Club and meetings were held on the campus. In the beginning, archival materials were also located at SCSU.
- At its second meeting in March, Mrs. Fred Schilpin moved to provide a scholarship for a St. Cloud female student to utilize at an accredited college or university. The first scholarship was awarded to Roma Gans (1923-1924) to study at Columbia University.
- In the early years, branch sponsored lectures, plays, recitals, movies, musicals, and concerts which provided the revenue for the scholarships. For 28 years, scholarship and fellowship funds had been raised by home tours.
- Fundraising for the scholarship began with a public speaker on the topic of, “New Books Worth Reading.”
- In September 1922, a tradition began for having a luncheon in September at the St. Cloud Country Club. Meetings were the second Wednesday afternoon, October through May.
- Interest or subgroups were formed around six topics: preschool, elementary school, adolescence, international relations, music and drama.
- In 1924, the first interest group was formed when 20 mothers of young children met to discuss their parenting problems. That year the Pre-School Group sponsored an exhibit of toys recommended for young children.
- AAUW’s focus in 1924 was to promote equity for women, education, self-development over a life span, and positive societal change.
- On March 25, 1925, the St. Cloud members voted to join the proposed state organization. The dues were ten cents per member. The first state convention was held in St. Paul.
- In February 1927, the branch voted to give $100 to the new Fellowship Fund – the forerunner of the Educational Foundation.
- Between 1926 and 1936, the following interest groups were added: International Relations, Music Section (later changed to Music and Drama), Literature and Creative Writing, Arts, and Consumer Problems.
- In February 1928, the St. Cloud Branch sent Mrs. J.R. McCrory, expenses paid, to Washington, D.C. to attend the Conference on “The Cause and Cure of War.”
- In May 1929, the branch sent its first delegate to the national AAUW convention in New Orleans.
1930 – 1939
- Helen A. Gale summarized local activities in the 1930s: “In the 1930s, the branch began to take a more active part in matters outside.”
- 1931 – Helped with a citywide charity drive, also headed the Made Work Program
- 1934 – Sponsored a group of Camp Fire Girls and helped organize the Stearns County Council of Social Agencies
- 1935 – Contributed equipment, money, magazines, and a daily paper to the new Community Education Center at the Unity Church.
- In addition, Mrs. Gale emphasized that, “The Education Committee has been the heart of the branch.”
- In 1934 the Arts Group was formed.
- 1934 – Organized a Civic Forum attended by both men and women
- 1935 – Made a complete survey of local schools
- 1938 – Made a survey of community facilities offered for extra-curricular activities of children.
- In 1938, the education committee surveyed community facilities offered for extra-curricular activities of children. The information was turned over to the St. Cloud Recreation Board with a plea to supply a full-time recreation supervisor.
- In 1939, a new national committee was organized to study the status of women. St. Cloud branch member, Mrs. L.D. Zeleny, was appointed the Minnesota state chair. Early branch programs placed emphasis on women in society. Examples were: “The Role of Women as Makers of History, Portraits of Pioneer Minnesota women, Women in Media, and Women and Self Worth.”
- In October of 1934, one member was reported to have hiked 70 miles during the daily hike of College Club (AAUW) members.
1940 – 1949
- At the national level, AAUW contributed to the war effort through a study of home defense by issuing a publication titled, “Our Organization for National Defense.”
- Its Washington, D. C. headquarters served as a wartime center and home for women holding high posts in the war effort.
- The St. Cloud Chapter of AAUW members reflected on topics of the times.
- In 1941, Eleanor Roosevelt visited St. Cloud, spent time at the Whitney house, and remarked in her My Day journal entry, ” Wednesday – I am seeing the first snowflakes fall as I sit in a delightful enclosed porch in Mrs. Whitney’s home in St. Cloud, Minn., this morning. It is a charming spot, where one can envision hours spent looking out on stormy weather, and rejoicing over a book and a happy feeling that one is in such comfortable surroundings.” Mrs. Whitney is one of the early AAUW members.
- 1944 – A panel discussion was conducted on optimism for postwar ideals. Members agreed that some kind organization with worldwide membership was needed
- 1945 – The topic was, “Building for Peace and a Stable World Order.” There was a presentation from a Pearl Harbor eyewitness.
- 1949 – A presentation from a teacher from Siam. She received an AAUW fellowship to study at the University of Minnesota.
- The Arts Group of the St. Cloud Area Branch of AAUW has been involved in the arts community for over 80 years in multiple subgroups but always with the same purpose: To promote the arts, enhancing opportunities and providing outlets for community members to participate in the arts.
- During WWII, the Music and Drama Group put on full theater productions at the Paramount for school children. Members of the Performing Arts Subgroup gave informational concerts in classrooms.
- In 1949, the Arts Group brought the Centennial Minnesota Art exhibit to town.
1950 – 1959
- The St. Cloud Chapter of AAUW held an annual springtime tea for St. Cloud State College senior women students.
- Raised funds through a fellowship day at Herberger’s or Fandel’s.
- Presented an opera series that was shown at the Hays Theater.
- Sent representatives to AAUW’s State Convention panel on the topic, “Issues Confronting Education Today”
- State dues in 1953 were $.35 and the branch had 142 members. National dues were $3.00 and $1.50 for associate members. State dues were $.75 in 1955.
- In 1956 there were 157 members, the highest number to-date.
- In 1954, a committee worked on a project to study the St. Cloud schools – in order that we may fairly criticize the critics and lend our weight to those who seek to improve education.
- In 1954, the branch contributed a $500 fellowship grant in the name of Elizabeth Tschumperlin.
- In 1953 several scholarship loans were paid back. Married women had loans to the branch in the amounts of $90-95, and paid about $10 a month in repayment.
- In 1953 the expenses paid by the branch for the delegates to the national convention were $180.54, state delegate convention expenses were $25.
- Meetings in 1953 were often held in the Technical High School cafeteria. The branch paid $3.00 per meeting.
- For several years in the mid-fifties, the branch sponsored and sold tickets to an opera movie series.
- Arts Group dues were still $1.00 for AAUW members and $2.00 for nonmembers.
- At a joint meeting of AAUW, the Arts Group and the Music and Drama Group on December 8, 1954, at Technical High School, an original Christmas story written by Mrs. Thomas Fandel, was presented. The cast of players was directed by Mrs. William Clemens.
1960 – 1969
- The St. Cloud Chapter of AAUW held home tours as a fundraising event.
- In 1966, a grant was given to Mrs. Carlton Eckberg who led the local branch through a transition of its entire structure and organization.
- Programs in 1961 included a slide lecture on industrial design, decorating for Christmas and other holidays, African and Egyptian Art, a dramatic monologue, and modern dance demonstrations.
- In 1963, the study groups in the St. Cloud Branch included the Literature Group, the Arts Group, the Music and Drama Group, and the technical explanation of the operation of a Pen Group.
- In 1966, a fifth group was added; Performing Music. In the 1960s, all meetings of the Arts Group were usually reviewed in the St. Cloud Times.
- Study groups for international relations and social studies had become part of the branch program efforts.
- The Jean Megarry Eckberg Named Gift was to awarded to a woman for distinction in the field of scholarly work.
- In 1965, Mrs. J.G. Megarry (Mary Beth) served as the state cultural interest chairman and Mrs. E.K. Stennes, (Florence) was state treasurer.
- The 1964 – 1965 Implementation Topics were: “The Law, the Citizen, and Education; an antidote to poverty.”
- Branch membership in 1964-1965 was 183.
- In 1966, two Implementation Topics were added: “Revolution of Modern China and Science; a creative discipline.”
- The Literature Group chose books related to the study topics. Some titles were: Active Creation, Charles Darwin, His Friendship with Wallace, Leonardi DaVinci, Artist and Scientist, Sir Isaac Newton, and Profiles of the Future.
- Under the new structure, “The Occident and the Orient” was selected as its first study subject.
- The Saint Cloud AAUW owned a collection of paintings that was put up for a silent auction in 1966.
- The first antique show sponsored by the AAUW Arts Group was held on May 6-7, 1965 in the Birch Room of the Germain Hotel from 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. Tickets were $.50 each, netting $294.76.
- An annual public recital was presented by the Performing Music Group In the late sixties/early seventies. The Arts Group of AAUW was instrumental in the formation of the St. Cloud Arts Council spearheaded by members, Pat Petraborg, Mary Reilly, and Arlene Helgeson.
- The Arts Group donated to the Granite Trio sculpture. The Lemonade Concert and Art Fair grew out of an Arts group discussion and was chaired for years by Arts Group member, Ginny Tennant.
1970 – 1979
- The St. Cloud Chapter of AAUW selected the book, The Beleaguered Earth: Can It Survive, which spurred an in-depth local study of pollution involving many hours of hard work on the part of members.
- Performed a musical play of the organization’s history to celebrate its 50th Anniversary in 1972
- Selected, “Woman Searching for Self”, as another study topic, Sharon Studer, chair.
- Spear-headed a free of charge Area Spring Women’s Conference in 1975 that had over 1000 attendees with over 50 speakers, topics and seminars, free child care, and free busing for seniors.
- By 1970, the practice of referring to a married member as Mrs. husband’s name, was being discarded for the use of the member’s own first and last name.
- The 1972 poem written by Carole Pike celebrated the 50- year anniversary .
- In 1972, the branch celebrated a “Half Century of Progress” with a production by that same name. Carole Pike wrote the following poem in commemoration.
Happy Birthday, AAUW – Saint Cloud!
The AAUW of St. Cloud was founded in ’22
The history of our College Club will follow in review
We’ve covered subjects of much diversity
Fitting for girls from the University.
We followed affairs of all the nations
Solved the problems of foreign relations
We worked on pollution and conservation
And touched on women’s liberation.
On many important situation
We even backed the legislation
For physical fitness, we took up hiking
Before it was popular to go biking.
In poetry, literature, all things dramatic
We’ve delved so deeply, we were almost fanatic
We studied the poor and malnutrition
Had a voice in prohibition.
We studied depression within our nation
And carried on into inflation
We promoted the arts, the symphony here
Our own music group had become very dear.
Included in all of our virtuosity
The fellowship grants of great generosity
The AAUW here in St. Cloud
Has been forcefully heard, clear and loud.
For half a century – fifty years now
All of our members should take a bow
The work that we’ve done right here in St. Cloud
Is something of which we all should be proud!
- In 1972, the branch donated $2,361 to the AAUW Fellowship program. The cultural interest area representative was president of the community arts council.
- Two branch members in 1970, were selected as outstanding young women in America.
- In 1972, branch membership reached 210. From 1975-76 membership peaked at 250.
- In 1972, the Lewis/Atwood home on SCSU campus became State of Minnesota property and was condemned. The Saint Cloud Area Branch offered to furnish one of the five second-floor bedrooms after a decision was made to preserve the structure and convert the historic landmark into offices. Each benefactor’s name appeared on the door. Today, it’s known as the Alumni House and SCSU Foundation.
- Each summer the Arts Group sponsored an Arts workshop for children ages 4-11.
- Eighteen scholarships were provided with proceeds from the spring antique show.
- The music performing recital was open to the public.
- The branch community area representative has observers attending school board, friends of the library, and safety council meetings.
- In 1975, petitions were signed by members in support of the ERA.
- Cloud hosted the AAUW state convention, April 28-29, 1979.
1980 – 1989
- The St. Cloud Chapter of AAUW: Began the decade with its 16th Annual Home Tour. Cost was $4 for the brunch-buffet at the Sunwood, $3.00 for the bus, and $3.00 for tours of 4 homes. District 742 offered free coffee and an art show at its district offices.
- On September 10, 1986, Ann Bancroft spoke on being the first woman to trek the North Pole.
- In 1986, the branch had five study and interest groups that met separately in addition to monthly programs/meetings. Non-members could participate in the Arts Groups.
- Fundraisers included the Antique Show and the Home Tour.
- A sign of the times was that fewer women were willing to volunteer, since more were working outside the home.
- Tried having co-presidents, which captured the interest of the national organization.
- Held a workshop on women and networking.
- Joanna Pucel helped make a bit of history, June 1987, when she attended the AAUW national convention, representing both the local branch and SCSU. The bylaws were changed so that men were now welcomed into membership. The name didn’t change, but the makeup of the organization did. “It’s been a hundred-six- year-old fence, that was finally dismantled. We’ve begun a new road of equity and ended discrimination,” Pucel said. At the convention a $320,000 scholarship endowment was dedicated to the memory of Doctor Judith Resnik, one of the Challenger’s astronauts killed in the explosion.
- In 1981, the Antique Show netted $1,600 for the Arts Group.
- At the AAUW 34th Biennial Convention in Houston, Texas, June 22, 1987, men were overwhelmingly voted to be admitted to membership in the oldest and largest national organization working for equity and education.
- In 1987, the first man to join AAUW in the U.S. was SCSU President, Brendon McDonald. He said, “I see this as a way to turn the invitation around so that men could be asked to join women’s professional societies instead of women being asked to just join men’s societies.” He also remarked, “I have memberships in many different organizations, and I join them to be active. I felt honored they knocked on my door to see if I would join.”
- In 1987 the Saint Cloud Area Branch, originally called the College Club, boasted about 170 members.
- To implement the taking hold of technology study topic, “Hands-on Night with Computers”, was the program at the November 1981, branch meeting at Technical High School.
- In 1982, Money Talks, the Investment Club, was formed and featured speakers on various topics.
- At the November, 1983 branch meeting, Doctor Brendon McDonald, President of SCSU, Dr. Ronald Jandura, Superintendent of St. Cloud Public Schools, and Paul Wenner discussed, “A Nation at Risk.”
- The Art’s Group took a bus trip to Minneapolis in February, 1984, to visit some of the small art galleries.
- A new study group was introduced in 1985, Women’s Work/Women’s Worth, which focused on the economic realities and values of working women both in and out of the home.
- Some of the books the literature group read from 1986-87 included: “The Accidental Tourist,” “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” “Cider House Rules,” and “Lonesome Dove.”
- Joyce Wittenhagen presented a branch meeting program in January in 1988, on the topic of “Equity by 2000.”
- Branch members named Agents of Change in the 1980s were: Jan Tarvestad, Maxine Pollick, Beverly Williams, Mary Rielly, and Diana Casper.
1990 – 1999
- The St. Cloud Chapter of AAUW: In 1991, began planning a Women’s Forum in conjunction with other organizations. The forum was held March, 1992, at St. Cloud Technical School on the topic, “Creating a Violence Free Community, Workplace, School, Church, and Family.”
- Held home tours as a fundraiser through 1994. In 1990, it brought in $4,059.
- Stearns County Attorney Elizabeth Hayden spoke on, “If I’ve ‘Come A Long Way, Baby, Will I Know It?” She focused on her observations of working in a male profession in a relatively small mid-western town.
- The branch achieved AAUW 5 Star Recognition and had over 100 members.
- In 1992, a women’s art show was organized in the community for Women’s History Month.
- The formation of the St. Could Arts Council lead to the development of the High School arts competition. The Arts Group of AAUW funded the Ellingson Arts scholarship until 2017. While raising money to fund the scholarship, extra funds were allocated for a wide variety of arts related projects. Some were: purchases of arts supplies for therapy work at Clara’s house and Anna Marie’s, band uniforms for the All City Marching Band, framing for the Art council’s permanent collection, seats purchased for the Paramount restoration, funded artists in residence for schools and for Anna Marie’s Shelter, subsidized art classes for GED students, provided scholarships for young artists at the Paramount as well as the art classes for Alzheimer’s, donated money for the Chamber Music Society and the St. Cloud Symphony and donated money for art shows at the St. Cloud Library.
- The St. Cloud Branch sponsored an Education Equity Round Table at SCSU on April 15, 1993. AAUW Minnesota provided a grant for $200.
- In February and March 1994, the first book sale was held to benefit AAUW’s Legal Advocacy Fund (LAF).
- Cloud AAUW hosted the AAUW Minnesota Convention on April 21-23, 1995. The theme was River of Opportunity; channels for tomorrow.
- AAUW – St. Cloud along with District 742 Community Education, sponsored a Saturday morning program for Junior High girls and “Empowering Girls for a Change,” February, 1995.
- A 100-women garage sale held in the fall and spring was the primary fundraiser for the National Educational Foundation, which replaced the Home Tour fundraiser.
2000 – 2010
- March 16, 2001, a class settlement agreement was reached and approved by the court regarding Fish v. St. Cloud State University in favor of the plaintiffs pertaining to gender-based compensation disparity. The court found that proposed settlement agreement was fair, reasonable, and adequate and narrowly tailored to achieve the goals and objectives of Title VII.
- The Arts group pulled together one of the first quilt shows at the Stearns History Museum and in the spring of 2002. Joyce Wittenhagen began the Paramount Project to partner volunteers with the Paramount Theater.
- Donations for Duffels, begun in 2000, had provided 549 duffel bags and suitcases for foster children by January, 2005.
- In 2005, the branch sponsored its first golf tournament as a fundraiser to benefit the AAUW Educational Foundation and to provide community support.
- Amy Klobuchar, Hennepin County District Attorney, was the speaker at the October 2005 branch meeting: “Protecting the Innocent and Convicting the Guilty.”
- The March 2006 meeting of the Evening Literature Group featured the book, Jane Grey Swisshelm; An Unconventional Life, 1815-1884 by Sylvia Hoffert. Swisshelm’s St. Cloud Pioneer newspaper, The Visiter, was the name chosen for the branch newsletter.
- The April 2007, branch meeting was in Sauk Centre with a visit to the boyhood home of Sinclair Lewis and lunch at the Palmer House
- To commemorate Veterans Day 2008, members Vivian Murphy and Hazel Wakefield were honored at the branch meeting for their service during WWII.
- The April 2009 branch meeting on Pay Equity: “Where Are Women Now?” followed the signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act on January 29, 2009, by President Obama.
- The St. Cloud Branch hosted the AAUW Minnesota convention in 2010: The Future Blooms from the Seeds of the Past.
2010 – 2015
- In 2012, the Branch celebrated its 90th This event prompted members to establish an archive’s committee for the branch. Joanna Pucel Bobbi Lampi, Janet Lore and Lora Robinson were on the initial committee. The branch had submitted material to the Stearns History Museum shortly after it opened, so we started our effort there. The SCSU history department re-activated their archive work and offered to take the branch archives, which had been housed at the Stearns History Museum.
- In 2016, Jan Bensen, and David and Karen Kirkwood wrote a national grant to organize TechSavvy in the St. Cloud Area. A one-time $5000 grant was awarded for this STEM event to benefit area girls grades 5-9. TechSavvy was offered from 2016 – 2019.
- President Jackie Crever (2016-2018) was the AAUW Minnesota Pine editor.
- Under her leadership, the annual fundraiser titled, An Evening of Inspiration & Empowerment, was launched. Entertainment included a barbershop quartet and a jazz band coordinated by Linda MacLeod.
- Branch membership totaled about 50 members in 2016. An invitation was sent to members for a brain-storming session to discuss ways to increase membership. A campaign was created shortly afterward to provide encouragement and incentives. By 2020 the membership doubled to over 100 members including students. A membership renewal process was established. In 2020, the May program included membership appreciation.
- In 2019, Jackie Crever was honored with a AAUW Named Gift for Fellowships
- From 2018 -2020, Mary Lou Lenz and Fran Hill-Rowen were branch presidents. Art in Bloom was the 2019 fundraiser, which offered 100s of silent auction items including original art donations.
- Branch communications (2017-2022) were expanded and included the following: Meet-A-Member (stories to help members get to know each other), a monthly News Bulletin, a PowerPoint presentation highlighting AAUW and branch information, numerous flyers, press releases, letters, posters, postcards, an updated Handbook/Directory, a branch demographics report, communication surveys and marketing materials.
- A marketing plan was written and presented to chairwomen for the annual 2020 fundraiser with the intent to build on the theme, An Evening of Inspiration & Empowerment. The fundraiser included a dinner, the sale of raffle tickets for high quality prizes, and featured a showcase of dancers and dance styles highlighted by a scripted history. Members were invited to participate by making donations and purchasing raffle tickets, even if they didn’t attend. The fundraiser netted almost $7,000, which was allocated by the board for branch community service projects including NCCWSL, Savvy Teens, and the Area High School Arts Exhibition in collaboration with the Paramount Center for the Arts (TechSavvy is self-funded). About sixty people attended, were masked, and social-distanced.
- Special programs were held in September (2017-2021) to jump-start the dinner program season. Other women’s groups were invited and attendance double compared to typical programs.
- Special programs included: “Contemporary Issues in Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement.” Expert panelists included the following: Stearns County Attorney, Janelle P. Kendall, Dr. Mary Clifford, St. Paul Asst. Chief, Kathy Wuorinen, Sergeant Tina Lake, and police officers Talisha Barlow and Officer Darcy Zirbes (2017).
- “International Women’s Insights” was presented by Deyo Ajayi (Nigeria), Dr. Zhihui (Sophia) Geng, China, and Ana Spence-Baker (Nicaragua) (2018). And prolific national author/illustrator, Nancy Carlson spoke November 13, 2018.
- Patty Wetterling was the speaker for the September 2019 program. Almost 100 women attended. Jacob’s song, written by Douglas Wood was played; Linda Macleod interviewed Patty. Joy Baker, Wetterling’s memoir writer was also in attendance.
- Title IX experts Carol Howe-Veenstra and Dr. Lori Ulferts were the 2020 September speakers.
- Tarryl Clark, Stearns County Commissioner spoke on Women’s Role’s in Government at a special program in September 2021.
- Tasks completed in the summer of 2020 included the following updates and executive committee work to organize and professionalize the branch rules of governance, training, and operations: A strategic plan and a policy booklet were written, the branch bylaws were updated to comply with national requirements and standards, board training binders were completed, student and branch member applications and recruiting flyers were updated. The branch website was updated and a commitment to keep it current was determined. Social Media focus groups were held with student members from SCSU and CSB to discuss applicability and relevance for the branch. A Facebook page is being developed.
- 2020-2021 Financial reports, forms, and templates were created and written to professionalize and improve processes. Accounting software was purchased to streamline financial reconsolidation. Templates were written to update meeting agendas, minutes, and motions.
- Social events took place from 2016 – 2021 and included happy hours, ice cream socials, recruiting events, holiday sing-a-longs, etc.
- The Thursday Night Book Club was added. The group initially followed the NYTimes and NPR, Read This Now, national book club along with member suggestions. The first Wednesday afternoon book club remains popular and well attended.
- In 2020, a portion of the May program was dedicated to honoring members. This membership appreciation included a PowerPoint presentation with AAUW accolades, years of membership, and a brief paragraph answering the questions, “Why did I join AAUW and Why did I stay?” Mini floral bouquets were given to them and cake was served following dinner and the speaker. In May, 2021, Dr. Catherine Bushman, Music Professor and St. Cloud Municipal Band director told her life story related to women in arts leadership.
- In the future, January and February programs will be dropped and June may be added. The theme for May will be the Arts.
- April 29-30, 2022, the Saint Cloud Area Branch is the AAUW Minnesota State Convention host. New innovative ideas have been introduced like the interbranch-partnered seminars and the sale of AAUW merchandise to benefit the Greatest Needs Fund. The theme is Unity and the slogan is, WE ARE ONE!