Our History – Altrusa International, Inc.

Altrusa International, Inc.
(Altruism + U.S.A.)

The Altrusa Institute was founded in 1917 in Nashville as a women’s civic organization by Dr. Alfred Durham. In Indianapolis where Dr. Durham formed a chapter, he met Mamie L. Bass who had served as Superintendent of the Women’s Division of the U.S. Employment Service.
Ms. Bass envisioned a higher purpose for Altrusa as a “builder of women.” She renamed the organization the National Association of Altrusa Clubs and wrote by-laws and principles for the organization. The first Altrusa convention was held in June 1918 in Indianapolis. Vocational education for women was a national cause of the organization. One of the early members was former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. By 1935, Altrusa chapters began to form outside of the U.S., hence another change of name to Altrusa International, Inc.
In 1962, Altrusa International established the Altrusa International Foundation, which is dedicated to improving economic well-being and quality of life through a commitment to community services and literacy.
Altrusa is now an international association of women and men who volunteer their energies and expertise in projects dedicated to community betterment. As a community service organization, Altrusans provide over one million volunteer hours every year.