AAUW Jamestown Branch Honors Its Heritage

AAUW Jamestown Branch members celebrate the holidays recently. Submitted photo

When 25 female college and university graduates convened in 1921, they could not have imagined the legacy they were establishing for generations of women and girls in the Jamestown area.

The College Women’s Club, fondly known today as the Jamestown branch of the American Association of University Women, celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2021 and closed out 2022 by establishing a permanently endowed scholarship at the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation. The new fund will make an annual award that honors the legacies of those earliest members, and the hundreds of women who joined along the way.

The earliest notes from the AAUW historical scrapbooks indicated that “the college women of the community sought to organize themselves for the purpose of administering a student aid fund and to work on the educational, civic and social problems of the community.” Women gathered to learn about issues of global and local importance, and they organized events and activities that helped the Jamestown community.

When the nation was at war, the notes from AAUW indicate activities that tied to that effort. During a local teacher shortage, AAUW hosted a training to prepare substitute teachers. More recently, AAUW coordinated “Get in the Game,” an event that inspired a generation of girls to be physically active, trying new sports and recreational pastimes.

While the AAUW members in Jamestown were active in their fellowship and community service, they never lost sight of their original goal to aid other women in their higher education pursuits through scholarship awards. These dollars were raised through a variety of fundraising endeavors, but the longest running source of revenue was the beloved What’s New Fair. Begun in 1954 and held originally in the Crystal Ballroom of the Hotel Jamestown, the What’s New Fair was an annual tradition that continued until COVID-19 ended its run.

“The AAUW Jamestown branch has given more than $495,000 in scholarship awards to over 500 women pursuing higher education in its history,” said Janet Forbes, president. “We are proud of the impact these scholarships had on our community and the women who played key roles in it over the years.”

While the Jamestown branch of AAUW continues to meet for fellowship and learning, the era of coordinating largescale fundraisers has now passed. However, membership recognized that a partnership with the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation was a perfect fit for maintaining a permanent legacy to the Branch and its mission.

“As individual members and as an organization, we have long been aware of the role the Community Foundation plays and thought working together to establish this scholarship was a great fit,” said Shirley Sanfilippo, AAUW Treasurer. “We hope current and past members will consider making a gift to the Fund in honor of their years with AAUW.”

“We are honored to hold this fund and preserve the legacy of AAUW Jamestown Branch,” said Michelle Tambascio, Scholarship Officer. “We will continue making scholarship awards to ensure women pursue higher education in their name both now and into the future.”

Donations to the AAUW Jamestown branch scholarship can be mailed to the Community Foundation, 418 Spring St., Jamestown, or online with a credit card by visiting crcfonline.org.


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