The Mill Creek Hundred Branch of the American Association of University Women, in existence from 1972-2002, was one of eight branches of AAUW in Delaware. 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. This national organization comprises state divisions that are made up of local branches. The first branch in Delaware began in 1923 as part of the Pennsylvania-Delaware Division. The Delaware branches broke with Pennsylvania and formed the Delaware Division on April 11, 1940.
The Mill Creek Hundred Branch formed in 1972, making it the eighth branch in the Delaware Division. Founded by a group of twelve women from the Newark and Wilmington branches, Mill Creek Hundred's membership peaked at over one hundred members. Former member Geraldine Elter described the group's participants as young women who "had young children and stayed home to take care of them." (F44) In a 1994 report, Elter further described the distinctive qualities of Mill Creek: "The Wilmington Branch was too big ... The Newark Branch was strongly affiliated with the University of Delaware ... Mill Creek was thought to be just the right combination of ages, interests, children, community involvement, etc." (F44)
The Mill Creek Hundred Branch had several long-term projects and ongoing events including the Book Sale, the Candidate's Forum, and the May Dinner. The annual Book Sale in November usually enjoyed profits of over three thousand dollars, but a shrinking volunteer base ended the event around 1990. In election years, the group sponsored a "Candidate's Forum" which was open to the public and well-attended by public officials. The annual May Dinner at the end of the AAUW year was a time for members to celebrate and present the annual Named Gift Award, a five hundred dollar contribution to the Educational Foundation Program in honor of a member who had shown outstanding service to the branch. In later years it was replaced by the Donor Dinner or Donor Tea.
As with all AAUW branches, Mill Creek Hundred had a variety of study groups including Gourmet Cooking, Bridge, Great Decisions, Gardens, Early Childhood, Books, Public Policy, Needlework, Craft, and the Couples' Discussion Group. The branch members also worked on projects involving battered wives' shelters, teenage pregnancy, scholarships to Goldey Beacom College, local school grants, transportation for cancer patients, and childcare. They were active in the AAUW Delaware Division's Legislative Day and United Nations Day, made displays for Women's History Month, and participated in Newark Community Days.
In its last years of existence, the Mill Creek Hundred Branch suffered from low membership, dropping from over one hundred twenty members to less than fifty in a ten year period. This led to the cancellation of major projects, annual events, and study groups. Some members cited increasing numbers of working women and grown children as reasons for shrinking participation. Others thought that the national AAUW had "become too political" and dues were too high. Geraldine Elter concluded that "AAUW used to provide stimulation that is now offered by other sources." (F44) The Mill Creek Branch disbanded in 2002 and members were invited to join either the Wilmington or Newark branches.
Elter, Geraldine. "A Look at the Mill Creek Hundred Branch of the American Association of University Women." May 17, 1994. (Box 1, F44)
Sedwick, Helen Vincent. A History of the First Twenty Years: Delaware Division American Association of University Women, 1940-1960Delaware State Division, American Association of University Women, 1961.
Gray, Eugenia R. History of the Delaware Division of the American Association of University Women, 1960-1990Delaware: Delaware Division, American Association of University Women, 1988.
Additional information derived from the newsletters of the Mill Creek Hundred Branch as found in Series I of this collection.
The American Association of University Women Mill Creek Hundred Branch (Del.) records reflect the organizational structure and detail the social, intellectual, and civic life of this women's group, which was formed to support the AAUW mission to advance equity for women and girls through education, advocacy, and research. The records span the extant dates of the branch, 1972-2002. The collection (1.3 linear feet) comprises administrative records, correspondence, directories, budgets, account books, bank statements, newsletters, brochures, recipes, histories, reports, awards, photographs, scrapbooks, and ephemera. The collection is arranged in three series: I. Organization and Administration (1972-2002), II. Projects and Events (1980-2002), and III. History and Memorabilia (1972-2002).
Series I. Organization and Administration spans the years 1972-2002 and is divided into four subseries: Administration, Membership, Finances, and Newsletters. Administration contains the bylaws, correspondence, and agendas of the branch. The collection is incomplete, with a limited number of years represented. Membership includes a complete collection of Mill Creek Hundred directories dating from 1972 to 2002 and a list of board members. The Finances subseries consists of budgets, treasurer's reports, tax information, account books, bank statements, and other materials. The final subseries, Newsletters, houses all issues of the Mill Creek Branch newsletter, The Mill Wheel (1973-2001). The Delaware Division newsletter, The First Stater , is only available from 1999 to 2002, but a complete set of these newsletters can be found in the Delaware Division of the American Association of University Women records (MSS 529).
Series II. Projects and Events covers several branch activities from 1980 to 2002. The events include branch dinners, Goldey Beacom Honors Day, the annual Book Sale, the Delaware Division's 60th State Convention, and several anniversary celebrations. The collection contains programs with recipes from dinners the branch held, as well as other favorite recipes of the branch members. In 2002 the branch marked its thirtieth anniversary and dissolution with the "Blaze of Glory" luncheon; papers describing the planning of the event and the invitation are available. Despite the large number of study groups, only the Book Group is represented. Gifts given by the branch to Bear and Kirkwood Highway libraries are also documented here. Additionally, the series houses printed material compiled by the branch, including two brochures (1982 and 1991) detailing the activities and history of the branch in hopes of attracting new members and a "Preventing Teen Pregnancy" booklet from 1991.
Series III. History and Memorabilia, covers the years 1972-2002 and presents the development of the group in a variety of formats. The contents of the series include a certificate for the founding of the branch and a timeline of the history up to 1982. A 1994 report written by Geraldine Elter discusses the declining membership of the Mill Creek Branch; correspondence chronicles the dissolution of the branch in 2002. The series also contains photographs and four scrapbooks from 1972 to 1998 detailing the history of the group in pictures, programs, and newspaper clippings. The first two volumes are the most complete, while the remaining two volumes are more sporadic in their coverage.