Baltimore Branch Histories:
AAUW Baltimore Branch, The College Club, Inc: A Brief History by Mary Backer Smith*
The College Club was established in 1894 by a group of eight women seeking “the extension of university education among women.” they met in members’ homes for “tea and conversation.” They were Lillian Welsh, Dr. Mary Sherwood, Julia Rogers, Mrs. John F. Goucher (Mary Cecilia Fisher Goucher), Mrs. Fabian Franklin (Christine Ladd), Dr. Florence Sabin, Elizabeth Carroll, and Mrs A Morris Carey (Margaret Cheston Thomas Carey). Another early member was Edith Hamilton, whom Margaret Carey in 1896 convinced to became head administrator of Bryn Mawr School. In 1906 she became its first head mistress.
For fifteen years, Mrs. Fabian Franklin (Christine Ladd), the first woman to hold a degree from Johns Hopkins University and the first American woman to earn a PhD in Mathematics, presided. When Christine Ladd applied for a Johns Hopkins University fellowship in 1878, she signed her name as “C. Ladd” on the application. She was accepted for the fellowship, but the university mistakenly assumed she was a man. They were forced to follow through and give her the fellowship despite much opposition to her joining the university since they did not admit women. She completed all of the requirements for the doctorate, but the university refused to print her name in any publications and also refused to grant her the degree. She did finally get it…in 1926… at the age of 78! 44 years after she earned it.
Dr. Florence Sabin was another founding member, In 1896, Florence Sabin entered Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine as one of fourteen women in her class. Sabin was a woman of many firsts. In 1917, she became the first woman on the faculty of Johns Hopkins Medical School and the first woman to be a full professor there. She was the first female member of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research and the first female president of the American Association of Anatomists. In her later years, Sabin became a public health activist helping to modernize Colorado’s public health system with what were called the “Sabin health laws.” AAUW of Colorado was instrumental in the installation of a statue of Sabin to represent Colorado in Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol. Sabin was only the third woman to represent a state in the hall.
Edith Hamilton was another early member. In 1896, Margaret Carey convinced her to became head administrator of Bryn Mawr School. In 1906 she was became its first head mistress. After retiring as an educator in 1922 and moving to New York City in 1924, she began a second career as an author of essays and best-selling books on ancient Greek and Roman civilizations
The College club affiliated with the American Association of university Women in April 1921. To remain true to our roots, we continue to be The College Club, but we are recognized as the Baltimore Branch of AAUW. In 2011 the Towson Branch merged with the Baltimore Branch, and members are welcome from throughout the greater Baltimore area.
The College club furthered the cause of women’s suffrage, jury service for women, good school boards for Baltimore’s public schools, and the war effort for both World War I and II. The club has had various study groups, among them painting, music, book reviews, drama, current events, and gourmet cooking.
Over the years there have been many social activities. There were Fellowship Teas, Sunday night suppers to which husbands were invited, season theater tickets, sales of Christmas cards, nuts, and other items. A Marathon Bridge series helps raise funds for scholarships. In May 1995, we celebrated our centennial year with a gala dinner.
In more recent years, there have been bus tours to places of interest, pecan sales, and other fundraising events. Proceeds are used to finance scholarships and conduct club business. We have undertaken projects to benefit our community. These projects include support of the local public schools, programs to educate high school students about resources to support college costs, support of various community groups, contributions to the Mayor’s Mitten Tree, programs to educate teenage students about AIDS, and establishment of the Book Wish project for elementary age children.
We sponsor scholarships for local women students who are rising juniors or seniors at Goucher College, Coppin State University, and the College of Notre Dame of Maryland. In addition we sponsor an Interrupted Studies scholarship for a returning college student, and we sponsor a student to attend the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders.
*Revised 1993, 1997, and 1999 by the Directory Committee and 2013, 2015 and 2020 by the webmaster. Biographical information concerning Christine Ladd and Florence Sabin provided by Suzanne Gould, AAUW Archivist.