SISWP become a Federation in 1978, and our first club, Sydney was chartered in 1937, so it is only fitting that we review our early Soroptimist International history and the early history of the Federation of Soroptimist International Great Britain and Ireland as that is where our roots began.  Let us look back at the very beginnings, our sincere thanks go to  Soroptimist International Great Britain and Ireland Federation for allowing us to share the history of SI from their website.   Do view their Centennial Website 

Soroptimists Celebrate 100 years

The next 12 months will see Soroptimists from across the 5 Federations join together to celebrate 100 years of service to women and girls.  We will celebrate the Bright Past as we look to a Brilliant Future full of promise and opportunities.


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The First Soroptimist Club

si1On 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 first members in Soroptimist history.

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 a minimum to form a charter club.

Read more about the Early History on SI Founder Region website click here

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 3rd 1921 in Oakland, California – Link to Soroptimist International History website



Programme Action – The First Project

One of the major projects undertaken by the Oakland Club concerned the environment with legislative advocacy to “Save the Redwoods”– the great ancient trees which were being felled unmercifully. Soroptimists lobbied the legislature, took on the powerful lumber companies and gained public support for the project.

The result was that the major portion of the redwoods was set aside in a protected reserve and still stands today, The Redwood Grove was subsequently purchased by Soroptimists

Click here to read more about the Redwood Grove.

Violet Richardson Ward

220px Violet Richardson WardFounder President of Soroptimist’s first club in Alameda County and the first Soroptimist President at the podium during the ceremony dedicating a tree in her name at the Redwood Memorial Grove in 1971, and later spending a time of reflection with “Her Tree”

Violet Richardson Ward’s lifetime Motto was “It’s what you do that counts” which sums up Our Work as Soroptimists – Programme Action

Click here to read more about her motto and other “Memories of Violet Richardson-Ward” written by her daughter in law Mimi Ward

This early action set the precedent for future Soroptimist involvement in legislative advocacy and its subsequent relationship with the United Nation

This was the original intent of service and is the way it has progressed in all Federations.









Bristol England 1920 – Venture Clubs

While discussions regarding a Soroptimist Club were taking place in 1920 in Oakland, the idea for a similar service club was being discussed in Bristol England. The Officers of the Bristol Rotary Club invited prominent women to a meeting, as a result of which, the “Venture Club” was formed in 1920 with a motto of “Looking Further” – Read more about Venture Clubs and the link with Soroptimists here The purpose of the Venture Clubs is very much in line with the purpose of Soroptimists, but neither organisation was at this time aware of the other’s existence. However, in 1930 Soroptimist and Venture clubs did unite which makes Bristol club the oldest club in SIGBI celebrating 100 years in 2020.

Worldwide Expansion of Soroptimist International

si6 300x277In 1923 two years after the first Soroptimist club was formed in America, the Greater London Club was formed in Great Britain, and in 1924 Dr. Suzanne Noël a prominent French cosmetic surgeon, was the founding President of the Soroptimist club in Paris. Suzanne established 12 Soroptimist Clubs around the world, and in 1930 was elected to be the first President of the European Federation of Soroptimist International;


Establishing Soroptimist Clubs in Great Britain and Ireland, the early years – Click here

Establishing Soroptimist Clubs In Europe – click here:


To read more about the early history of Soroptimist International please continue to the SIGBI website for their comprehensive history,  Click Here To read about the following:

First Soroptimist World Conference June 1928:

Soroptimist International of America (SIA) 1930

Soroptimist International Convention Paris 1934

Soroptimist International Conventions

Soroptimist International Convention Atlantic City 1938

Soroptimists Work in Difficult Times

The Turning Point 1952 and Soroptimists Work with the United Nations