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Palo Alto AAUW Celebrates 80 Years

By Staff | Oct 17, 2017

The Palo Alto Branch of the American Association of University Women is celebrating 80 years in Palo Alto County on Oct. 26 from 6:30 to 8:00 at The Shores in Emmetsburg.

The whole community is invited to come celebrate their accomplishments and learn more about the work being done to improve the lives of women, girls and families.

The program is scheduled to begin at 7 with a short history of the Palo Alto branch by Jane Nielson-Hoyman and congratulations from Iowa AAUW President, Ann Gale (a former Emmetsburg resident retired from the Area Education Agency).

Marcie Frevert will be honored with the branch’s equity award.

Randy Olson, Emmetsburg Middle School, will then discuss the After School STEM program he has developed for both girls and boys. Free will donations to the After School STEM program will be accepted.

Eighty years ago women had had the vote for 17 years. They had been allowed a college education for exactly 100 years. Twenty-three college-educated women in Palo Alto County joined together to sign a constitution and form an organization that is still actively supporting equity and education for women and girls.

Much has changed since 1937. Original members were required to be college graduates. Only women were allowed membership. Now women with community college degrees can join friends can join the local chapter with life experience instead of formal education. Men are now allowed, and encouraged, to join.

Original members represented the whole county. At that time married women listed their husband’s names, so finding information about them is a challenge. The first of the group to graduate from college was Edna Crawford (Mrs. F. C.) Davidson in 1896 from Wilson College in Chambersburg, PA.

Deane M. Frey (State University of Iowa), Harriette Neufeld (Northwestern University and St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame), Kathryn M. Pendleton (State University of Iowa and St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame), and Margaret Waldron (State University of Iowa) all had Master’s degrees.

Several members graduated from Iowa State College. They were Leona G. Lundgren (Mrs. Paul C. Cromer), Daisy L. Putzke (Mrs. L. D. Frederickson), Mrs. E. E. Kelly (please let us know if you know her given name!), Mildred Hagie (Mrs. Carl G. Klingaman), Kathryn Misbach, and Mary Wanberg (Mrs. E. L. Moser).

Several graduated from the State University of Iowa: Hazel E. Lund (Mrs. George V. Doerr), Louise Hennessey, Florence Mabel Davis (Mrs. L. H. Mayne), Madeline Coonan (Mrs. Roy Ryan), and Elizabeth Spies.

Others graduated from colleges across the country: Alice Lucille Harter (Mrs. D. C. Carpenter) graduated from Carthage College. Mary Helen Brereton (Mrs. Herbert Baker) and Martha Guineviere Craven (Mrs. D. G. McCarty) graduated from Grinnell College. Margaretta Williamson (Mrs. H. L. Brereton) graduated from Goucher College. Francis Davidson graduated from the State University of Arizona. Pearl Kulp (Mrs. J. M. McDonald) graduated from the State University of Wisconsin. Mary Margaret MacEvoy graduated from Iowa State Teachers College.

While 80 years have gone by many of the conversations recorded could come from the news today:

April 9, 1938 “A letter to Mrs. Ryan from Mrs. M.R. Beard was read asking that she appoint someone to be chairman of Palo Alto County survey of the Legal and Economic Status of Women, and for this woman to be the chairman of a study group to study this problem further.”

May 14, 1938 “our speaker Dr. Harold M. Skeels of the State of Iowa Board of Control who spoke on “The Mental Development of Children in Foster Homes”.

May 13, 1939 “Miss Elizabeth Sherman, District Children’s Worker, Division of Child Welfare Services, spoke on “Child Welfare Services in Iowa.”

February 10, 1945 “Mrs. Klingaman and Mrs. McDonald reported at some length on the progression of the School Code in the legislature. A motion that our education chairman be allowed sufficient funds to send wires to our senator and representative on crucial bills of the School Code was made by Mrs. Helgen.”

The branch was active in the community, contributing $2.19 to the community theater production of George Bernard Shaw’s “Candida.” At one time they sponsored the Garden Club.

As a part of the war effort they collected books for soldiers, participated in the scrap metal drive, developed an understanding of paint rationing and goods would be rationed by this method. They also discussed “Food for 1943” dehydrated foods, enriched flour and bread, and oleomargarine and vegetable soy beans.

“AAUW has been empowering women as individuals and as a community since 1881. For more than 130 years, we have worked together as a national grassroots organization to improve the lives of millions of women and their families,” posts the AAUW website.

Their programs include research, campus initiatives, STEM education, public policy, case support, education funding, global connections, member leadership and salary negotiations. Local branches like Palo Alto bring these services to their local communities.

For More Information Contact: Anne Johnson, President Palo Alto AAUW, 712-260-9424 or asjohns9424@gmail.com.