We use the archives of the American Economic Association to examine the participation of women in the association from its foundation in 1885 to the Great Depression. Women participated actively in the formation of the association, contributed several monographs to its early publications, and won some of its early essay competitions. We find that the membership drives of 1900–1902 (aimed at academics and businessmen) and of 1909–13 (aimed at lawyers, bankers, and businessmen) neglected women interested in social causes and home economics as potential members. Together with the abolition of local branches, these first two membership drives diluted the role of women in the association. In contrast, the membership drive of 1922–26 reflected a growing interest in graduate students and young instructors that somewhat increased the proportion of women among members.

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