AAUW Pittsburgh Branch History

by Joyce Martin

Branch Member since July 1, 1948

1895 (charter date February 24, 1895) was an exciting year for women in search of higher education. The Pittsburgh Branch of AAUW began only 13 years after the original group was established in Boston. At that time it was known as the Association of College Alumni. The first president was Mrs. Clair St. John. Many of the first members were graduates of the Pennsylvania College for Women (later known as Chatham College then Chatham University) which had been founded in 1869.

The same year that Pittsburgh’s AAUW branch was established, University of Pittsburgh admitted its first women students. Two sisters named Margaret and Stella Stein became students there.

Five years later the Carnegie Institute of Technology was founded, and the next year a new section of that institution, Margaret Morrison Carnegie College opened its doors to women. Many students in its first graduating class became members of the Pittsburgh Branch of AAUW.

The years that followed had numerious milestones in the Pittsburgh educational scene. In 1907 women were admitted to Duquesne University. They were allowed to come in by the back door. Not long afterward Duquesne grew to include the first women faculty members who taught modern languages and chemistry. They entered by the front door.

In 1916 Sara Foffle became the first woman to receive a law degree from University of Pittsburgh. Later she became our AAUW Branch President.

Over the years the Pittsburgh Branch of AAUW has continued to support education and equity for girls and women through programs, fellowships, and grants. It also has provided stimulating activities, delightful friendships and a wonderful desire for life long learning.