The first branch of the American Association of University Women in Delaware began in 1923 as part of the Pennsylvania-Delaware Division. When concerns of unequal representation arose, the Delaware branches broke with Pennsylvania and formed the Delaware Division on April 11, 1940. Local branches affiliated with state divisions, which communicate with the national association comprise the organizational structure of AAUW. The American Association of University Women was formed in 1921 when the Association of Collegiate Alumnae (founded 1881) merged with the Southern Association of College Women (founded 1903). Membership is open to any woman who holds an associate, baccalaureate, or higher degree from an accredited American college or university or a foreign institution recognized by the International Federation of University Women. AAUW's mission is to advance equity for women and girls through education, advocacy, research, and philanthropy.
At the first spring conference of the Delaware Division, the keynote speaker, Mrs. Adam Leroy Jones of the North Atlantic Region AAUW, compared Delaware "to a young daughter starting a new home of her own, rather than as a small baby learning to walk, since they had matured during those years in the Pennsylvania-Delaware Division" (Sedwick 10). Over time, the division grew from three founding branches to eight branches, with seven branches remaining as of 2005.
Throughout its existence, the primary focus of the AAUW has been education, especially female education. The Delaware Division has worked to advocate change in Delaware's public schools, improve the state's libraries, lobby for legislation concerning education, encourage girls to attend college, recruit teachers during periods of shortage, and promote educational television in Delaware. The division has worked with the national AAUW to provide fellowships to women continuing their education through graduate work. Additional concerns include poverty and fair housing, environmental issues, support of the United Nations, handicapped children, fostering good international relations, as well as state and federal policies. The group has formed study groups on topics including "Conservatism in America" and "Emerging Nations of Africa."
Women's issues have also played a large part in the AAUW agenda. Since the 1940s, the organization has been interested in the status of women, with advocacy increasing in the 1970s. Concerns included support of the ERA, legalized abortion, sex education, and discrimination. In recent years, the AAUW has focused on topics including Title IX, encouraging girls to study math and science, violence against women, and reproductive rights. The Delaware Division's agenda is consistent with the national AAUW motto of "promoting education and equity for women and girls, lifelong education, and positive societal change."
Sedwick, Helen Vincent. A History of the First Twenty Years: Delaware Division American Association of University Women, 1940-1960. Delaware State Division, American Association of University Women, 1961. (See Box 3, Series III., F5)
Gray, Eugenia R. History of the Delaware Division of the American Association of University Women, 1960-1990. (See Box 3, Series III., F7)
Additional information compiled from the minutes, reports, and newsletters of the Delaware Division as found in Series I.
The American Association of University Women Delaware Division records reflect the history, structure, public policies, and programs of this group, and its relationship to the state branches and national organization of AAUW. The AAUW's mission is to advance equity for women and girls through education, advocacy, research, and philanthropy.
The Delaware Division records consists of six linear feet of material, spanning the dates 1922-2010. Composed of correspondence, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, financial records, awards, histories, administrative records, newsletters, directories, minutes, photographs, souvenir programs, and ephemera, these records detail the organizational structure and the social, intellectual, and civic life of this women's group. The collection is arranged in five series: Organization and Administration, History and Memorabilia, Projects and Related Information, Local Branches, and National AAUW.
Series I. Organization and Administration, spans the years 1940-2009 and is divided into five subseries: General, Handbooks, Delaware Division Directories, Newsletters, and President's Files. The General subseries includes multiple versions of the constitution and bylaws, the treasurer's files, meeting minutes and agendas, branch reports, and conference materials. The Handbooks subseries contains items used or produced by either the division as a whole or individual committees. The Newsletters are a record of the club's activities and interests, while the President's Files include budgets, newsletters, branch reports, photos, annual reports, correspondence, meeting minutes, newspaper clippings, convention programs and agendas, as well as the personal documents of each president.
Series II. History and Memorabilia (1922-2010) contains material which details the founding and history of the group, through items such as scrapbooks, photographs, awards, and newspaper clippings. The history of the organization is chronicled in three written documents, beginning with the work of the Pennsylvania-Delaware Division and Delaware's decision to form its own division in 1940. Papers specifically relating to the Wilmington Branch of the Delaware Division are also included. The Awards subseries provides information on the Delaware Division's interactions with the National AAUW, the state of Delaware, and the local community.
Series III. Projects and Related Information (1948-2000), documents the activities and interests of the organization, showing its impact on the local, state, and national level. Each subseries focuses on an issue, including the following: Children, Education, International, Legislative, Libraries, Status of Women, and Voter Education. In Children, the projects are organized in chronological order and include important AAUW studies as well as published works by other groups. Two significant AAUW studies include the Governor Bacon Health Center Project on emotionally maladjusted children from the 1950s and a study of Child Protective Services in the 1970s. The Education subseries contains the reports from the Education Committee and a variety of school-related studies, speeches, and published material on education collected by the Delaware Division, and a topical listing of AAUW interests relating to education. The International Relations subseries comprises alphabetized topics of interest to the AAUW and relevant correspondence. The Legislative subseries includes reports of the Legislative chairmen arranged in chronological order, papers relating to the administration of the Delaware Division's legislative program, and other topics arranged in alphabetical order. The Libraries subseries is arranged in chronological order and includes information from the 1953-1954 and 1978-1979 library studies conducted by the Delaware Division, the 1960-1961 and the 1974-1975 library studies conducted by the Newark Branch, and the 1960s Governor's Conference on Libraries. The Status of Women subseries contains reports written by the committee's chairmen, as well as information about the 1974 Delaware Division Sight and Sound Show. It also describes AAUW involvement with women's issues at the University of Delaware, female education, and the Women's Council. Wilfreda Lytle is singled out as the first female legislator in the state of Delaware, as well as an AAUW member. The final subseries, Voter Education, includes clippings, memos, worksheets, guides, correspondence, and programs related to the Division's voter education campaign during the 1990s.
Series IV. Local Branches (1947-2002) and Series V. National AAUW (1982-2004) both contain items that are less directly related to the Delaware Division and are the smallest series in this collection. Series IV. Local Branches includes clippings, histories, newsletters, programs, and other items related to the Dover, Georgetown, and Seaford Branches of the AAUW. Conversely, Series V. National AAUW comprises materials published, produced, and distributed by the national body. The bulk of this series is made up of national AAUW publications on varying topics such as the education of latina girls, sex education, teaching girls computer skills, working women, sex discrimination, and Title IX, which were published between 1997 and 2003 (Series V., F6-F20). Also included are three videotaped (VHS) programs produced by the AAUW between 1993 and 1995.