Submitted by Laura Thompson, Historian and Marie Oakes, Past President and Founder
In Issue #36, September 1978, Rug Hooker News and Views, the "Swatch Gossip" page carried a little 3-line item:
OPEN GUILD Peg Hansen of West Willington, Conn. would like to hear from readers who are interested in the formation of an Open Guild of Rug Hooking.
There was a tremendous response from hookers all over the country who wanted to join and offered to help. An invitation to the organization meeting for a national rughookers guild was sent and those within reach gathered on April 22, 1979, at the home of Peg Hansen in Connecticut. The March/April 1979 issue Rug Hooker's News & Views, issue #39, page 89, announced the first meeting of the national open rug hooking guild and invited all who were interested to come and participate.
At that time, it was not possible to conceive what this meeting would mean to the future of rug hooking. It was Peggy Hansen's dream to have an organization OPEN TO ALL RUG HOOKERS, past and future, who were interested in the art of traditional rug hooking. (Traditional hooking included both wide and narrow strips, primitive and fine, but not latch hooking.)
Fifteen rug hookers were able to come to the April 22nd, 1979 organizational meeting. Fourteen women paid dues and joined. They include: Helen Charron, Dede DelGaudio, Ellen Hansen, Peg Hansen, Shirley Herpich, Marie Oakes, Anne Johnson, Betty Kelly, Geneva Lapham, Barbara Hambleton, Eleanor Osterman, Virginia Pioso, Celeste Schifino and Florence Treadwell.
In the first newsletter in June 1979, Jill Hurd, editor, reported the details of the meeting. The name, Association of Traditional Hooking Artists, was selected and the suggested annual dues were $15.00 (later changed to $7.50.)This first meeting was called to order by Peg Hansen and chaired by Virginia Pioso.
Later in 1979, on Saturday, October 20, at the West Hartford United Methodist Church, officers for ATHA were elected and the first board formed. Doris DeProspo became the first President. The first ATHA Newsletter, which included an ATHA membership application, had been mailed to over 70 persons who had expressed interest. Again, the response was tremendous. October 20, 1979, with this first annual meeting and election of officers, ATHA was a reality.
Within a year, as reported in May, 1980 ATHA Newsletter, there were 225 members! Even more exciting, was the announcement in the same newsletter of the merger of the Northwest Guild of 115 members with ATHA. A history of the Northwest Guild and the contributions of Emilie Tisdale who formed the guild in 1977 followed the announcement.
ATHA has continued to grow through the years because of the tireless efforts of dedicated and capable members like the original women who gathered at Peg Hansen's on April 22, 1979.