Historian’s Corner

TRINGO Game Facts.

by Erica Koonmen

AAUW facts you’ll want to Know.

TRINGO is a fun combination of BINGO and TRIVIA. You’ll be emailed a card that is unique to you; everyone will have the same facts but each card will be in a different order. Questions will be read, you’ll need to locate the correct answer on your card and cross it off. Just like BINGO, you’re looking for a diagonal, straight across row or straight down row. First person to get a TRINGO wins! These items, from the Historian’s Corner the past year, are things that may pop up on the TRINGO game that we’ll be playing on Saturday, April 15.

AAUW La Crosse was established in 1922 but it was originally called the College Club of La Crosse.

There were 48 establishing members and the first president was Agnes Brindley.

In 1976, membership reached a record 406.

A popular fundraiser started in the 1960’s and lasting over 30 years was Home Tours.

A glamorous fundraiser from 1947 through 1968 sold tickets to college women who then invited an escort to attend with them was the Holiday Ball.

The Art Fair on the Green became a branch fundraiser in 1967 when the branch took it over from a local arts organization.

A AAUW member and Dean of Women at UWL in the 1930’s, Edith Cartwright had a building named for her on campus.

In 1976, member Dr. Judith Green established the Women’s Studies Department at UWL.

In 1962, the newsletter was named “Current”.

In 1976, the branch established an Educational Foundation for scholarships.

The longest running study group was Bookfellows.

In 2010, the Emily “Sis” Hutson Award was given to the branch by the YWCA.

The 40th anniversary celebration was held at the Hixon House.

Historian’s Corner

by Marilyn Hempstead (32-year member), Branch Historian

A crucial aspect of branch action and personal enrichment throughout our 100 years has been study groups. In 1922 the newly formed branch set out to study equal pay, supporting college women financially, women in government and voter education.

Over the years various groups were created to study literature, the arts, education and the status of women. A World Problems study attracted so many members it was divided into two groups which met through the 1980s until it again merged into one in 2004. It studied Europe and the Middle East that year (always timely).

In 1989 a whooping nine study groups were listed in the directory. Four of these involved books! Two of the nine exist today: Contemporary Authors and Hearth and Home. Sharon DeCicco was the Hearth and Home leader then and she is now. In that same year there were two other study topics. One was on Promoting Individual Liberties. The other was Women’s Issues/Women’s Work chaired by Pam Thiel.

Because of the number of groups in the branch, a position of Study Group Coordinator to which each group reported was created in 1990. As the number of groups declined the position was eliminated in 2009.

The newest study group to form is AAUW in Action designed to be a springboard for community projects. Erica Koonmen called a meeting to organize it in September, 2009. It has been going strong ever since.

Throughout study group history there have been both change and consistency: change to stay relevant and consistency staying true to our mission of advancing gender equality for women and girls through research, education and advocacy.

That’s what we have done and will continue to do.

(Photo to be inserted)
Lila Seager, Betty Heuslein, Marian Ramlow, Ruth Nixon-Davy – probably early 2000s.

Historian’s Corner

by Marilyn Hempstead (32-year member), Branch Historian

All our activities, programs and other good things we’ve accomplished, and are accomplishing, are dependent on communication. In our 100 years as methods changed, the goal remained the same.

In 1922 members most likely communicated by phone.
(A telephone switchboard was installed in La Crosse in 1881.) In the 1940s the branch had an 11-member Telephone Squad (which dialed only 3 or 4 digits).
Substantial telephone committees continued with 1989 having a 30-person calling tree. Current members involved then were Sarah Stuber (co-chair), Phyllis Miletto, Sue Heuer, Elsie Patterson and Margaret Wood. But today only a few members are being called due to an innovation that swept society.

When email addresses first appeared in the 1989 directory, that of pioneers Ardus Cleveland and Pam Thiel were included out of 11. That number doubled by 2004 and continued to grow. Thus in 2012 we were reminded of meetings via email with Robert Richardson becoming the RSVP coordinator. Only 11 people remained on the Calling Committee list and that number has dwindled.

The first branch bulletin was published in 1927 and sent through the mail. In 1962 the newsletter was revised and named the CURRENT. A used typewriter and a mimeograph machine were purchased and kept in the home of the editor. In later years it was sent to a printer to make copies which were mailed to members. In 2009 Erica Koonmen became newsletter editor, redesigned it, updated the name to THE CURRENT and began its distribution digitally as it’s done today.

Our Directory
Another critical communication device is our comprehensive directory (a resource for this information). The earliest one I have is from 1947 with “Yearbook” as the title. Forerunners are still to be found.

Ultimately it is we, the communicators who use the devices to help carry on the task of keeping our branch vital and serving our mission. Thanks to all, past and present.

Historian’s Corner

by Marilyn Hempstead Branch Historian and 32 year member.
AAUW La Crosse Branch Newsletter, January 2023

As this new year begins, we are continuing to honor the incredible 100-year history the La Crosse Branch of AAUW has created. The mission has been consistent throughout the century beginning with the 1922 constitution that promoted study, involvement in crucial issues of the day and work to support education and opportunities for women and girls. Basic early activities of the branch have continued while evolving with the times.

Do you remember the monthly meetings when you first joined the branch and
what you became involved in? Many of us in the membership experience volunteered or were coerced into taking an office on the board. (Fifty-six have served as president.) The legacy of study groups added another dimension for members in every era. And there were the various continuing committees such as fundraising (now think Art Fair) and Scholarship and others springing up over the years to further our mission. A side benefit to all of these branch contributions for the community has been the members’ deep connection with like-minded people.

Now we build on the past but don’t necessarily repeat it. Gone are the hats, gloves and some of the insular tendencies displayed by the educated women who first banded together. We are promoting new directions for the history we are making today with an emphasis on diversity and inclusivity, on broadening horizons for girls to enter STEM professions and on offering our support to women in countries where they are oppressed by stringent rules of dress and behavior.

These will continue as we move into 2023 and beyond. One goal for the future can be eliminating educational requirements for AAUW membership. What more will we come up with for a phenomenal next 100 years?

The Memorable 1960’s
by Marilyn Hempstead, Branch Historian

This month we look back at the 1960’s, a momentous decade for our branch and a decade that notable members of our branch recall.

In 1961 one of our fundraisers was producing plays for children. Ardus Cleveland joined the branch that year and was recruited to take the part of a playing card in “Alice In Wonderland.” The same year the Home Tour Project was initiated which gave ticket holders the opportunity to tour local homes and buildings.

In 1962 the newsletter was renamed the CURRENT.
It then began being produced using a used typewriter and a mimeograph machine.

In 1963 Ginny Brochhausen, as a senior in high school, was invited by her aunt to attend an AAUW meeting in Clintonville, Wisconsin. Remembering being impressed by the professional women of that branch she became a member of our branch in 2000 when she graduated with a degree in business.

That same year, senior girls at Sharon De Cicco’s St. Cloud, Minnesota, high school were invited to attend an AAUW meeting.

In 1966 Sue Heuer was introduced to AAUW when she received a small scholarship from the Greeley, Colorado branch in her senior year. She subsequently joined our branch on moving to La Crosse.

In 1967 we established our own foundation which was administered by a member. Thus, there was greater freedom involving the range of scholarships given.

In 1967 we took over the Art Fair on the Green which had been organized and run by an arts organization the previous 5 years. See: 2022 Art Fair on the Green

Our member Joan Koonmen was the first chair.

The photo on the right shows Joan Koonman looking at the 1967 art entries.

What was your introduction to AAUW? Let Marilyn know by emailing her at marizah@yahoo.com.


The 1930’s – Contrasts and Similarities
by Marilyn Hempstead, Branch Historian, November 2022.

We were still calling ourselves The College Club and giving $2.00 of our $3.50 dues to the National Association of University Women. The 80 members then is a similar number to our membership today. Activities reflected our current ones: monthly general meetings, study groups, fundraisers for scholarships. The interest from a $1000 fund provided a scholarship to a student at the Teacher’s College (forerunner of UW-L) even though its graduates were not eligible to join A.A.U.W. (Note that periods were used even then in the abbreviation.)

La Crosse members – all graduates of approved institutions – were activists in promoting the use of radio in the classroom which is a likely technological equivalent to the current computer at every desk. Their lobbying for the headquarters of the Soil Conservation Service to stay in La Crosse instead of being moved to Madison was met with defeat.

In 1938 National put out a report on The Economic and Legal Status of Women encouraging members action for the promotion and protection of women in the labor force. Discussion of The Equal Rights Amendment, which was being debated in a Senate Committee, ensued in the branch about the ERA’s relationship to that issue. There was concern over the erosion of the rights of women happening in Germany and the possibility of it happening in the U.S. As war was looming, A.A.U.W. changed its stance from aligning with the Council for the Prevention of War to recognizing that defense may be necessary.

Challenging times were present then as now. We aren’t experiencing the Great Depression, dust bowls or our nation on the verge of going to war, but many concerns are the same: women’s rights, economic disparity, preservation of the environment and an unstable international situation. These are common threads running from then to now in our 100-year history.


100 Years and Strong
by Marilyn Hempstead, Branch Historian

Our branch has been thriving for 100 years! And there
is a lot to celebrate. A committee has been meeting throughout the summer to plan our celebration activities. Your historian is the chair: Betty Kruck, Erica Koonmen, Sharon DeCicco, Ann Brice and Karen Lange (Program Co- Vice President) are hard working members.

“Equal pay for equal work Assistance for needy students Women on boards – local, state and national
Education for intelligent voting.”

Sound familiar? Those were the proposed study objectives for the new 48 member branch in 1922. That philosophy formed a basis which is relevant for today. Throughout the year, beginning with the social on September 13th, we’ll explore how we built on that base and evolved with changing times. We’ll recognize our multitude of accomplishments. We’ll honor those who contributed their talents, intelligence and energy to carry on the mission and the torch of education, equity, philanthropy and research vital to AAUW.

Scholarships & Grants: Awarded and Funded
by Marilyn Hempstead, Branch Historian

As May is our month to honor our scholarship recipients, following is a brief history of this branch tradition.

The 1930’s saw the establishment of a $1000 fund with the State Teachers College Foundation. The annual interest was usually sufficient for a scholarship, but when interest was too low the branch made up the difference. During the 1940’s, the fund was increased. With more fund raisers in the 1950’s our own fund was created which initially gave $200 scholar- ships to seniors at local high schools.

When keeping accounts by the branch treasurer became too cumbersome, the La Crosse Branch Foundation was estab- lished as a non-profit corporation in 1967. As assets grew, more high school scholarships were given and scholarships for Viterbo and Technical College students were introduced.

Later, a scholarship for women over age 30 was created honoring member Karen Wilson who was a professor at UW-L and passed away too young. We joined the La Crosse Tri- bune’s Extra Effort Award program donating two scholarships. When long time art fair chair and music teacher Pat Staupe died, we added a scholarship in her name for a student in Arts Education.

Grants were given to organizations supporting women. An example is the Self Sufficiency Program which helps single mothers to obtain an education. Sending students to the AAUW National Conference for Women Student Leaders near Washington, D.C. is another.

By 2010, when managing the branch foundation was becom- ing too cumbersome, a fund was established within the La Crosse Community Foundation. Under that umbrella principal grew and we give close to $30,000 in scholarships and grants per year. As LCF manages accounting and distribution, we are freer to concentrate on fundraising and choosing recipients.

In our 100 years we have given many more scholarships and grants than have been included. This ever-constant need will continue to be addressed by our branch far beyond its first century of accomplishment.


“WE’RE in the MONEY”
by Marilyn Hempstead, Branch Historian

Throughout our 100 year history, raising money has been a corner- stone of branch activity to support our projects and outreach.

In the beginning there were a variety of typical sales plus a children’s play and the giving of bridge lessons. From 1947-1962, a more glamorous source was the paid admission Christmas Ball held at the Stoddard Hotel’s Crystal Ballroom – formal dress required. Members attended as well as local college women who invited an escort. Fashion shows were staged by members. And the earnings of college women recruited to model for local dress shops went to our branch.

In 1960 a creative innovation was the Home Tour where interest- ing local residences were opened to the public. This continued through the 1990’s. For several years, the Children’s Theater thrived with members as actresses. Later the cast was composed of students from the UW-L Theater Department. Study guides for teachers were prepared and schools paid to send busloads of children to enjoy the play in the auditorium of Morris Hall.

The branch continually came up with new ways to garner funds, often carried out during the same year. The greatest fundraiser of all has been the Art Fair! In 1967 our branch took it over from a local arts group with Joan Koonmen being the first chair. Because of member diligence (which you all have contributed to) it kept growing and generating more profits. With other fundraisers having out- lived their effectiveness, we decided to concentrate our efforts on the fair early in this century. Because of present uncertainties in our culture, the fair is now in a period of transition. With the creativity and resolve of you, our members, and along with our

Scholarship Fund at La Crosse Community Foundation, we will continue to have the resources to support our mission of aiding scholars in their education and supporting causes that benefit women.

Amanda Gorman’s Poem