In 1931, with 37 members, the Brookings Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) came into being under the presidency of Miss Gertrude Young. However, it was not until 1950, after much effort on the part of the members, that the national group granted current and retroactive membership to all women holding degrees from SDSC.
Throughout the years, activities have been many and varied. One of the first programs was the promotion of a kindergarten. The branch operated and supported a private kindergarten in the basement of the city library from 1932 until 1941 when it was incorporated into the public school system. During World War II, the branch was active in projects to aid the war effort. Members helped distribute gas and sugar rationing cards, did Red Cross work and aided in salvaging materials such as paper and tin cans. Over the years, contributions to the National Fellowship Fund have been made regularly with the branch earning the money through many projects including bridge benefits, style shows, benefit movies, and through the selling of maps, engagement pads, books, calendars, and note cards.
Scholarship and fellowship programs have been of vital concern over the years. A small fellowship to a State College girl in the junior class started the local program. In 1962, the program was replaced with one that awarded a scholarship to a senior in high school and one to an incoming senior at South Dakota State College. In 1964, after the death of Miss Gertrude Young, the names of the local scholarships were changed to the Gertrude Young - AAUW Scholarships to honor the memory of the first president of the Brookings branch.
Over the years, study groups were developed and became more and important. In 1954, three groups - child study, money management, and international relations - joined two established groups - music and crafts. In 1963-64, a new structure was imposed on the study approach. The groups since then have centered in four interests areas - community problems, cultural interests, education and world problems. Many action programs have been the result of these study groups and other special concerns of the members. Some of these have been supporting educational television, promoting books and magazines distributed in foreign countries, and a resolution proposing a room for retarded and emotionally handicapped children in local school systems. Study groups have also concerned themselves with problems in urban space, consumer education, innovations and crises in education and values in society, science and the arts. Interest has also centered on the legislative process, particularly in the areas of education and women's rights.