AAUW Socorro Branch History

The first meeting of the Socorro (NM) Branch of AAUW was held in September, 1949. At that time, we had twenty chapter members. The first programs we offered covered the value of a college education for women, women in the news, the United Nations (UN), and the effects of atomic warfare.

Our branch also initiated many local projects such as a story hour for children at the Socorro Public library. In 1957 the first award of the Margaret McCulloch Scholarship was given to honor the highest female student in the senior class at Socorro High School.

Over the years there have been a variety of money-raising activities that included buffet suppers, card parties, and rummage sales. In the 1950s (and since then, too!), the branch hosted various state workshops, as well as the state convention. (Socorro is a great centralized spot in New Mexico for gathering people from around the state.) The local junior-high and high schools have been utilized and have hosted various talks and events including teas, essay contests, art exhibit sponsorships, youth concerts, as well as event topics on stressing further education and a variety of local and state political forums. In 1963, we organized a book club and a choral group which are still around today. In 1965, we conducted a survey within the community with specific focus on the older citizens’ needs. This eventually resulted in the establishment of the Socorro Good Samaritan Village which provides quality rehabilitation and skilled care for those who require 24-hour nursing supervision. We also established the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (NM Tech) Scholarship for Women in 1965. In 1968, we began the Visitas de Navidad, a Christmas home tour, which helped to support local scholarships. That continued until recently, with the last tour occurring in December 2016.

A local woman, Laurel Wilkening, was awarded an AAUW National Fellowship in 1970. She earned a Ph.D. in chemistry and went on to become the Chancellor of University of California – Irvine. In 1982, the branch began donations to the National AAUW Funds for a named gift, which continues today.