About the AASC

History and Mission

Smith College Alumnae House
Alumnae House

The year was 1881 and members of the class of 1880 had gathered on campus to celebrate their first-year reunion. As they watched the new group of graduates, the young alumnae were overcome with a sense of pride in Smith's educational legacy and immediately felt responsible for instilling those same feelings in future classes.


Before the end of that reunion weekend, the idea had been hatched to found their own group-an association-that would continually revitalize the connection they felt to Smith and to each other. The class of 1880 invited the new graduates, as well as the class of 1879, to join them in their venture, and together they drew up a constitution that laid the groundwork for a world-class organization. Their purpose was simple: "To further the well-being of the college and its graduates by increasing the interest of members in the college and in each other."


Forty-seven alumnae first pledged to uphold that mission, and to this day the Alumnae Association of Smith College, which was officially incorporated in 1931, has never strayed from it. Originally conceived as a dues-paying organization, the association is now all-inclusive and boasts a worldwide membership of well over 40,000. It has grown and prospered into a vital organization that continually meets the needs of alumnae and the college community.


Smith College Alumnae House
Alumnae House Living Room

While remaining true to the time honored traditions that alumnae treasure, the Alumnae Association provides innovative programs and services which respond to the interests of our diverse alumnae population. Online publications, services, volunteer resources, and educational opportunities in addition to live programs that connect alumnae with current students, fellow graduates and faculty members, all provide avenues for alumnae to remain close to Smith in ways that are most meaningful to them.



A History of the Alumnae House
The Alumnae House is one of the most elegant buildings on campus. Designed by famed New York architect Frederick J. Woodbridge in 1937, the house, with its subtle neoclassical form, combines the charm of a residential home with the functionality of a public meeting space.


The idea to construct a house for alumnae had been evolving since 1907, but it wasn't until members of the Alumnae Association voted in 1931 to designate monies from the Alumnae Fund to building the house that the project began to move forward. The cornerstone was laid in 1937, and in 1938 the Alumnae Association officially opened the house with a celebration that featured a bagpipe band, dancers, and a pageant.


Smith College Alumnae House
Alumnae House today

In his dedication speech, President William Allan Neilson remarked that he hoped the new house would serve as a central meeting place for alumnae and members of the college community. "Appointments will be kept, acquaintances will be renewed, plans laid, and all kinds of benefactions discussed and matured. The alumnae will be at home and happy," he said.


Inside, the house is a virtual museum of Smith history. Some of Sophia Smith's original furniture decorates one of the overnight rooms on the second floor. A library features hundreds of books written by alumnae, including Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions by Gloria Steinem '56, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle '41, and Ivy Days by Susan Allen Toth '61. And a long, spacious gallery on the first floor often houses exhibitions of alumnae artwork.