Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Ball State University Archives and Special Collections celebrates the centennial of Altrusa International, Inc.

In a new exhibit, Ball State University Archives and Special Collections will present one hundred years of Altrusa International’s history, highlighting the organization’s origins, leadership, and commitment to service.  Patriotism, Efficiency, Service: Celebrating 100 Years of Altrusa History runs from July 5, 2017 to December 15, 2017 on the second floor of Bracken Library on the campus of Ball State University.

The Altrusa Institute was founded in 1917 in Nashville, Tennessee. As women entered the workforce during World War I, the Altrusa Institute fulfilled a need for women’s civic organizations.  Modeled after Rotary International, Altrusa’s purpose is to help women become leaders in their communities through service and the exchanging of ideas.  Altrusa expanded to Mexico in 1935 and became Altrusa International. Through the establishment of the Altrusa International Foundation in 1962, Altrusa International defined their service goals as being “dedicated to improving economic well-being and quality of life through a commitment to community service and literacy.”  Since the 1990s, Altrusa International has also added service projects related to the environment.  As of 2008, Altrusa International consisted of 383 local clubs in 13 countries with nearly 10,000 members worldwide.

The exhibit will display original artifacts, correspondence, pamphlets, and photographs dating from the founding of Altrusa through its centennial celebration.  Of significant interest are the original principles that were first printed in 1921, the rosters and bylaws of the five original clubs, a ceremonial wreath from an Altrusa club in India, and a 75th anniversary greeting from former First Lady Barbara Bush. On loan from Altrusa International of Muncie member, Anne Condran, is her collection of membership pins.

In addition to the exhibit, Ball State University Archives and Special Collections has recently released a digital collection for the Altrusa International records.

For more information about this exhibit, contact Ball State University Archives and Special Collections at or (765) 285-5078. 

Altrusa members during planning session, circa 1950s

Mamie Bass was the first president of Altrusa, circa 1910s

Two Altrusa International members distribute books to children, circa 1980s

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