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Betty W. Wilkerson

National /International President

NAUW is a national non-profit organization that provides scholarships at the branch level for high school students, at the sectional level for graduate study, and at the national level for doctoral study, a fellowship is awarded. The organization provides opportunities to mentor youth and offers a variety of programs whereby you can contribute your skills.

College Alumnae Club, now known as the National Association of University of Women, was organized in 1910 in Washington, D.C. The College Alumnae Club was organized by Mrs. Mary Church Terrell, Dr. Sara Brown, Dr. Fairfax Brown, and Miss Mary Cromwell in Washington, DC. Twenty university graduates joined elected officers and planned a program. The new Club desired to stimulate young women to attain professional excellence, to exert influence in various movements for the civic good, and to promote a close personal and intellectual fellowship among professional women.

For more information about our National History, please visit:

Addrress:1001 E Street SE Washington DC 20003. 

Phone: 202-547-3967. Fax: 202-547-5226.


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Founder's and Histoy

NAUW Founders

The founding members of the National Association of University Women saw the importance of higher education for the advancement of women and worked to promote it. That spread to serving youth and the disadvantaged in our communities and in developing countries by addressing educational issues advancing the status of women's issues, and strategically partnering with allied organizations.

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Mary Church Terrell was one of the first African-American women to earn a college degree and became known as a national activist for civil rights and suffrage.  She taught in the Latin Department at the M street school (now known as Paul Laurence Dunbar High School) the first African-American public high school in the nation-in Washington, D.C.

In 1896, she was the first African-American woman in the United States to be appointed to the school board of a major city, serving in the District of Columbia until 1906. Ms. Terrell was a charter member of the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (1909) and the Colored Women's League of  Washington (1894).  She also helped establish the National Association of Colored Women (1896) and served as its first national president.  She was a founding member of the National Association of College Women, which later became the National Association of University Women (NAUW).

Mary Church Terrell

Dr. Sara Winifred Brown, born in 1868 in Winchester, Virginia, was

a teacher and a physician who spent her lifetime helping others to

help themselves.  From working as a Red Cross relief worker

during a series of floods becoming the first female trustee of

Howard University, Brown devoted much of her of her life to

public service of others.


Brown attended Virginia's all Black Hampton Normal and

Agriculture Institute (now Hampton University), graduating with

honors.  She taught English at the District of Columbia Normal School, and in 1894 took a leave of absence to attend Cornell University.  In 1897, she became the first African American to earn a bachelor's degree from Cornell University.

She then returned to Washington to resume her teaching career as a biology teacher.  Dr. Brown enrolled at Howard University to study medicine receiving her M.D. in 1904.  She then went into practice part-time and continued her studies.  She taught obstetrics at Howard University in 1907 while practicing medicine and teaching high-school biology.  Thirsting for further knowledge, Brown studied sociology and anthropology under Columbia University professors and during a trip to Europe attended lecturers at Sorbonne.  From 1908 to 1911, Dr. Brown assisted Howard University's medical department, lecturing on gynecology.  She made history June 3, 1924, when the university elected her to its board, making Brown the first female alumni trustee of Howard University.  Dr. Brown was also the fifth president of the College Alumnae Club, serving from 1917-1919.

Dr. Sara Winifred Brown

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Dr. Nancy Fairfax Brown received her A.B. degree at Howard University and professional training at Howard University and Columbia University.  She earned an A.M. and Pharm.D. For many years, Dr. Brown was an English teacher in the Washington, DC, high schools.  In 1919, the government sent her to France as a Y.M.C.A. secretary and in the 1930's she also accompanied the Gold Star War Mothers to France as a hostess.

Dr. Nancy Fairfax Brown 

Mary E. Cromwell earned her A.B. degree from the University of Michigan and A. M. degree from the University of Pennsylvania and additional graduate work at Columbia University.  She taught mathematics in Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C.  Cromwell was keenly interested in social problems and served as the first secretary of the National Association of College Women in 1924.

Mary E. Cromwell

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Historical information is from


NAUW History

The association has cooperated with national and local social economic programs and is affiliated with the National Council of Negro Women, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, United Negro College Fund, The National Coalition for Literacy, and the American Council on Education.

In March 1910, the National Association of University had its beginning, and over the years our organization has affiliated itself with a vast range of other national organizations with like-minded professional women in the pursuit of goals much like the goals set forth by our founders.

Mrs. Mary Church Terrell, Dr. Sara Winifred Brown, Dr. Nancy Fairfax Brown, and Miss Mary E. Cromwell were founders of the College Alumnae Club, which was organized in 1910 in Washington, D.C.  Twenty university graduates joined, elected officers, and planned a program.  The new club desired to stimulate young women to attain professional excellence, to exert influence in various movements for the civic good, and to promote a close, personal, and intellectual fellowship among professional women.

In 1919 the Club invited the first group of university graduates, who lived outside of the District to organize.  Baltimore accepted the invitation.  Through the efforts of the College Alumnae Club, seven branches were organized in cities where college women desired the affiliation with the foundation group.

On April 6 - 7, 1923, representatives of the newly organized branches met in Washington, D.C. to consider the establishment of a national organization.  A temporary National Association of College Women was formed.  It was at the next conference on April 25 - 26, 1924 that the permanent organization was established, and in November of that year, the association was incorporated under the laws of the District of Columbia.

On August 9, 1974, at the Biennial Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the association accepted its updated charter and became known as the National Association of University Women (NAUW).  NAUW from its inception is a service and educational organization.  In the beginning, the women of NAUW were proactive regarding the education of women, their living conditions on campuses, the need for a dean of women who would be an advocate for women students and the training of teachers.  As the years progressed, the organization raised its voice regarding major civic and national issues such as business opportunities for African-Americans, mental health and child welfare, and the improvement of interracial and international relations.  

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