On May 10, 1916, each of the 25 women on the board was instructed to invite 10 people to a Silver Tea to be held at the home of a member of the board. The board raised $32.80.
Though by modern standards a $33 profit is hardly something to brag about, the Silver Tea quickly became the board's most popular—and successful—event. In the following years, the tea grew to also include an apron sale.
It was a hit. Each apron was handmade, and the women began making 350–400 aprons a year—all of which fit the current fashion.
Each May, attendance at the tea and apron sale grew, and the Woman's Board soon found itself able to give more back to the college. Gone were the days of simply maintaining Ferry Hall. Now, the Woman's Board was one of the largest sources of fundraising for Westminster.
Before long, the annual Silver Tea became a tradition for women of
all ages. "The tea has been so successful because it's become a
tradition for a lot of people: the more people who are aware of it, the
bigger it gets," says Randi Morgan, an associate
member of the board and former President Steve Morgan's niece. "Last
year, I had 15 women and girls in my family there. It's a fun
opportunity to get together as the girls for something different and
unique, and it happens to serve a good cause."
the 100 years since its inception, the Silver Tea has taken many
different forms but has always included delicious food and hot tea fit
for an English tea room.
In the 1970s, following
the women's movement away from traditional roles, the tea morphed from
an apron sale to what was affectionately called Grandma's Attic, a
boutique and rummage sale—with a spot of tea, of course. One year, the
board even hosted
a booth, cleverly entitled Plant Parenthood, where attendees could
browse indoor and outdoor plants ready for adoption.
1979 clipping of a Salt Lake Tribune article in the college archives
describes the draw of Grandma's Attic: "Grandma's Attic traditionally
had been a place for 'can't bear to part with and someone in the family
might want it' items," the article states.
"It can be a place to spend fascinating hours looking at and examining
By the 1980s, Grandma's Attic at the
tea was drawing hundreds of attendees and raising over $10,000 each
year. Its success only continued to grow, even as the college was in the
midst of a financial crisis.
In the 1990s, the
tea changed its theme again: going global. Organized by Noreen
Rouillard, a long-standing member of the board, the women held a World
Bazaar and Tea that featured handcrafted gifts from around the world.
The sale of the gifts supported
the work of the Woman's Board and artisans in refugee camps and
The event brings together
women of all ages who look forward to the Silver Tea every year. "My
favorite memory is the year I took my grandmother [President Morgan's
mother] to the tea, just us two," Randi Morgan says. "She loved it. I
took my niece to
the last one—she had just turned three. She got on tea-party steroids.
She was excited to wear her hat and bring her purse and lipstick and
get all dressed up to go to a tea party."
its form has changed with the times, the purpose behind the Silver Tea
has remained constant: to help the students of Westminster.Read more about the history of the Silver Tea and The Woman's Board in the Westminster Review.