About AAUW

Formed in 1921, AAUW Harrisburg is a branch of the AAUW national organization. Our mission is advancing equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy and research.

Many know of AAUW locally through our support of scholarship and community programs. Our scholarship program helps local college students as well as women returning students. We also support national AAUW scholarships and research toward educational equity for women and girls.

The branch program calendar and special interest  and community service groups offer more than one hundred local activities over the membership year.  Learn more.

AAUW Harrisburg community outreach focuses on education and the arts, through work such as a literacy program at the Harrisburg YWCA, and events at our libraries, art museums, and theaters.

AAUW Harrisburg members are homemakers, career women, public officials, and professionals. They are women in every stage of life, from all religious and ethnic backgrounds. They have joined together to use education for the benefit of women and society.

90 Years of History in the Making

Excerpt of Presentation by Kathy Silks
National Civil War Museum, 09/24/2011

It’s been said that the good we do lives after us.   That can be true of organizations as well as individuals, and I believe it’s true of us collectively as the Harrisburg Branch of AAUW.  It is a history filled with community enrichment, spotlighting issues affecting women and girls, establishing meaningful partnerships with key local organizations, giving branch members and area citizens’ opportunities to engage in lifelong learning

1920s

    • 1921 – Branch founded
    • Co-founded Harrisburg Community Theatre
    • Established student college loan fund

1930s

    • Issued report:  Economic and Legal Status of Women
    • Study groups included child psychology, social problems, drama, music, and international relations
    • Formed our own choral group – University Singers

1940s

    • Board members sewed layettes for the Red Cross and branch raised more than $3,000 toward the University Women’s War Relief Fund to aid university women who were war victims and refugees
    • Feeling the economic pinch, the branch raised dues to $7.00
    • Authors Janet Flanner and Frances Parkinson Keyes presented at branch meetings
    • For our 25th anniversary – co-sponsored College Night at local high schools
    • Conducted a Career Night with representatives from more than 75 colleges, universities, and business schools
    • Branch members were active in developing a zoning program for Harrisburg

1950s

    • Launched a fundraising event – used book sale
    • Established poetry recognition contest for young people
    • Co-sponsored “Let’s Read” program for elementary students with Harrisburg Public Library – included six weekly radio broadcasts
    • Sponsored the first of three Allied Arts Festivals at The Forum, the precursors of the Greater Harrisburg Arts Council and the annual Arts Festivals at the State Museum
    • Collaborated with several other branches on a series of neighborhood conferences on such topics as mental health, investments and securities, and facing community problems
    • Branch’s Mental Health Research Committee conducted a survey for the PA Dept. of Public Welfare on the effective utilization of mental health educational materials
    • Co-sponsored (with Tri-County Mental Health Association) monthly lectures by psychologists and psychiatrists
    • Established a speakers bureau featuring forty branch members and covering twenty topical areas
    • Branch membership totaled 455, representing 107 colleges and universities
    • Branch named one of 250 Honor Clubs of America by the Woman’s Home Companion

1960s

    • Began sponsoring an annual Harrisburg Allied Arts Festival, featuring the Harrisburg Choral Society, The Civic Ballet, the Harrisburg Community Theatre, and the Harrisburg Symphony
    • Conducted a survey on the high school dropout rate in nine area schools (lowest: Camp Hill; highest: Harrisburg)
    •  Branch’s higher Education Committee developed AAUW Roundtable, four half-hour panel discussions on WHP-TV, highlighting significant aspects of higher education across PA (distributed nationally through the Association office)
    • Co-sponsored one-day Educational Institute to assess the local need for a community college
    • Co-sponsored Harrisburg area library workshops and surveys to establish East and West Shore libraries
    • Co-sponsored first Women’s Legislative Conference
    • Branch luncheon featured Barbara Walters as speaker

1970s

    • Established student loan funds at Messiah College, University Center, and Penn State’s Capital Campus and a full-tuition scholarship at HACC
    • Grant to HACC’s Community Resources Institute for communications courses open to the public
    • Established AAUW Poetry Award, part of the annual Scholastic Writing Contest
    • Sponsored Windows on the World, weekly radio series on WMSP-FM presenting interviews by branch members on Current community concerns
    • Co-sponsored Public Policy and Working Women Conference
    • First annual branch bridge tournament to benefit the Fellowship-Scholarship Fund

1980s

    • Co-sponsored publication of Harrisburg: A Walk Through History, a self-guided walking tour
    • Published Silhouettes, a study of famous women in Harrisburg’s history
    • Sponsored Private Space: The Personal Diaries of Women, a series on WITF-FM
    • Conducted a phone survey for Dauphin County Library System assessing local government officials’ understanding of library services
    • Established $25,000 60th anniversary Research and Projects Endowment
    • 65th anniversary – worked with coalition of women’s groups to celebrate Women in History month

1990s

    • Sponsored Equity in Education roundtable discussion between business and education
    • Began giving Gender Equity Model presentations to schools and community organizations
    • Involved in PA Network for Change, a voter education program
    • 70th anniversary – established Martha M. Dohner Memorial Scholarship
    • 75th anniversary – A Celebration of Diversity

2000s

    • Community outreach work with YWCA of Greater Harrisburg, including creation of the Betty Sullivan Memorial Library
    • Co-sponsored (with York Branch) readings from Profiles of Women Past and Present
    • Branch talent show:  Making Herstory
    • 85th anniversary: Gateway to the Future

Conclusion

What a legacy of collaboration, meaningful community contributions, and a focus on societal improvement.  Doesn’t it fill you with pride?

Together we can write the next chapter of this phenomenal branch history of impact on greater Harrisburg.  How will that chapter read?  I think we should make it a blockbuster.

Click here to view a list of the Harrisburg Branch’s past presidents.

Click here to view a list of Harrisburg Branch members who served as PA-AAUW presidents.