Soroptimist International History


On June 21st 1921, the historic first meeting of the Members Committee met at the Hotel Oakland to officially launch the first Soroptimist club (Soroptimist Club of Alameda County)

The core group met once a week and in three short months they had gathered the support of 80 women in Alameda County, California, which was the number stipulated as minimum to form a charter club.

The presentation of the Charter and the officer installation ceremony for the Soroptimist Club of Alameda County took place in formal style at the Hotel Oakland on October 3 1921 in Oakland, California – Click here for more information

Worldwide Expansion of Soroptimist International

Two years after the first club was formed in America, in 1923 the Greater London Club was formed in Great Britain  Establishing Soroptimist Clubs in Great Britain click here

In the same year Dr. Suzanne Noel travelled extensively in Europe speaking about Soroptimist International Establishing Soroptimist Clubs in Europe click here


A noteworthy historic event took place in 1927 when the first World Conference of Soroptimist clubs was held in Washington, DC. At the conference the United States and Canada formed the American Federation SIA and clubs already established in Great Britain, France, Holland and Italy formed the European Federation SIE

Other significant milestones at this conference were the decision that Soroptimist International conventions be held every four years and adoption of the Soroptimist emblem for the members – Read more about the emblem here

Soroptimist International Federation Great Britain & Ireland SIGBI

The Federation of Great Britain & Ireland was established in 1934 when Britain split away from the rest of Europe and became the third Federation of Soroptimist International after America and Europe. Margaret Adams then recently elected as President of the National Union of GB became the first President of the Federation of Great Britain & Ireland – read more about the History SIGBI here

Extension was progressing and in June 1935 it was decided to form Divisional Unions.

In the summer of 1938 members from the three Federations met at the International Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey, this was the largest Soroptimist gathering to date.Read more about the Atlantic City Convention here

Worldwide Soroptimists Working Together Through World War11


Read more about Soroptimists working together through WW11 here

The Turning Point 1952

1952 was a real turning point for International Soroptimists. At this time there were 841 Clubs in 22 countries with over 25000 members.

The International Convention 1952 was held
 in Copenhagen 
and after three days of exciting
 reports from the three Federations, the Laws were changed and the first INTERNATIONAL PRESIDENT was elected Mrs GERTRUDE G. HUITT past President of Federation of the Americas and the first INTERNATIONAL PRESIDENT

Mrs Huitt says “What an honour it was to be the first International President, however  it was Madeliene Garot past President of SIE  who had first talked about the need for officers, so that Soroptimist International could qualify with the United Nations for Consultative Status.

Soroptimist work with the United Nations had begun

Read more about the Turning Point for Soroptimists and work with the United Nations here

4th Federation – Soroptimist International South West Pacific

Soroptimist International Sydney club received its charter in 1937 and the Federation of Great Britain and Ireland (SIGBI) claimed this fledgling club. World War II added confusion to the operation of the club, as contact with the British Federation was severely hampered.

It was not until 1978 that the 4th Federation – Soroptimist International of the South West Pacific was formed, what a joyous occasion this was.  The inauguration ceremony of the Federation of the South West Pacific was held in Adelaide at Easter in 1978, such a great moment when SI President Hilda Richardson handed over the Charter of the Federation of the South West Pacific to Her Excellency, Maris King and invested her with the Insignia of SISWP – Read more about the History of SISWP here

Throughout the years Soroptimist International’s work with the United Nations went not on from strength to strength – What is our status now – and What does it mean Read here


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