Celebrating 130 Years with Fellowships and GrantsNovember 28, 2011 This November, we’re celebrating our 130th Anniversary and the first annual National AAUW Month. This milestone has given me the opportunity to explore my personal connection to AAUW. Even though I’m a member of the millennial generation, I learned the value of education and women’s empowerment from my grandmother, a longtime AAUW member who attended college and graduate school when society expected much less from her. As a Fellowships and Grants intern and current graduate student, I look to stories of past fellows and strong women like my grandmother for inspiration in my own academic path. In the wake of celebrating the 130th birthday of an organization that has empowered women from my grandmother’s generation to mine, we would like to honor the rich careers of AAUW’s fellows.
AAUW’s fellowships program began in 1888 with our forebearer, the Association of Collegiate Alumnae. The first fellowship committee’s objective was “to secure absolutely the best girl that can be found in the country for original gifts, for previous opportunity of training them, for energy, power of endurance, and health.”
AAUW Dialog readers who follow the lives of our fellowship and grant recipients would agree that this objective has been surpassed in numerous ways, all the way back to our founding fellows:
- First American Fellow: The first Western ACA American Fellowship, now known as the American Fellowship, was awarded in 1888 to Ida Street. Considered a “woman of rare culture and accomplishments,” Street studied at the University of Michigan for two years and contributed essays and poems to numerous periodicals, including the New Englander.
- First European Fellow: In 1890, Louisa Holman Richardson was awarded $500 to study at Newnham College in Cambridge, England. Richardson earned her bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from Boston University and was a professor of Latin, Greek, and art history at Carleton College.
- First International Fellow: The earliest International Fellowships offered women from Latin America the opportunity to study in the United States. In 1917, Virginia Alvarez-Hussey received an award to study at the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania. Her academic and clinical work focused on diseases prevalent in Venezuela, such as leprosy.
These women built a foundation for the scholarship system AAUW employs today. The accomplishments of fellowships and grants alumnae surpass what the program’s founders could have imagined, and many fellows have gone on to receive Fulbright Scholarships and Guggenheim Fellowships. Both inspiring and encouraging, this is just one part of the larger story. Stay engaged with AAUW Dialog to participate in further discussion on the history of AAUW fellowships and grants.
This post was written by AAUW Fellowships and Grants Intern Elyssa Shildneck.