The P. E. O. sisterhood was founded January 21, 1869, by seven college girls, students at Iowa Wesleyan College, Mount Pleasant, Iowa. Although established as a college sorority, campus chapters were discontinued when emphasis was placed on the organization of chapters in towns and cities. The P. E. O. Sisterhood is now an international organization with a membership of more than 142,000 women. Almost 3,900 chapters have been organized during its 94 years of growth.
The purposes of the P.E.O. Sisterhood are educational and charitable. For many years the major objective of the organization has been to provide increased opportunities for higher education for women.
The first educational project of the P. E. O. Sisterhood was its Educational Fund, established in 1907 for the purpose of assisting qualified women students desiring to become self-supporting, to attain an education beyond the high school level. The Fund is a revolving one of over $975,000 from which loans amounting in total to more than $6,205,735 have been made available. Annually approximately 2,000 students are serviced in this way.
Founded in 1884, Cottey College, Nevada, Missouri, has been owned and supported by the P. E. O. Sisterhood since 1927. This college, accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools and by the National Association of Schools of Music for Junior Colleges, will begin its 79th year in September 1963, with dormitory capacity for 350 students who come from the United States, Canada, and many foreign countries.
Believing that education is fundamental to world peace and understanding, the members of P. E. O. established the International Peace Scholarship Program in 1949. Voluntary contributions by the members are providing scholarships for selected women from other countries for graduate study in universities in the United States and Canada. Since the beginning of the program in 1949, 720 scholarships have been given to 458 students from 63 countries, for a total of more than $579,488 to attend colleges and universities.
Through these scholarships, P. E. O. is providing these women opportunity for specialized training so they may return to their homelands to serve their own people with greater skill and broader understanding.
Chapter AQ, P. E. O., Marceline, was founded April 27 , 1906, and has an active membership of 41. Through more than fifty years, Chapter AQ has supported the educational and charitable projects of P. E.O. on both a national and local community level and feels privileged to have so served.