The American Collegiate Association (ACA) was founded in 1881 by Marion Talbot and Ellen Swallow Richards to provide women with greater access to higher education and careers. The organization’s purpose was “for practical education work, for collection and publication of statistical and other information concerning education, and in general, for the maintenance of high standards of education.”

A group of women in two rows.
Indianapolis members of the American Association of University Women, 1924 Credit: Indianapolis News View Source

In 1921, the ACA joined with the Southern Association of College Women (founded in 1903) to form the American Association of University Women (AAUW). AAUW accepts for membership any woman or (since 1987) man with a four-year degree from an accredited college or university.

The Indiana branch, located in Indianapolis, was accepted into the AAUW in 1890. This branch was founded by May Wright Sewall. By 1913, the Indiana Branch was renamed the Indianapolis Branch, and a second branch was founded in Bloomington.

The Indianapolis branch promoted member education and self-development through programs and study groups. Noteworthy projects have included a book and toy exhibit at L.S. Ayres and Company (1925); a campaign to expand services of the Indianapolis Public Library to the entire county (1962), which state legislation made possible in 1963; an International Festival (1972), continued by the International Center; help with radio station wfbm’s “Call for Action” (1972); development and distribution to libraries of a Child Care Directory (1979); and a conference for junior high school students, especially girls, on careers in the fields of math and science (1991).

Revised July 2021

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