YWCA of the U.S.A. Records. The Microfilmed Records
NOTE: For the most part, the Microfilmed Records and the Original Format Records do not duplicate each other and both should be consulted. For a folder-level inventory of the Original Format Records, see the "Contents lists" for each Record Group. For a detailed inventory of the microfilm, see links to the Microfilmed Records Reel Lists below.
The YWCA of the USA began discussing microfilming its historical records in 1948 as a way to free up much-needed space in its headquarters building in New York City. When the project got underway in the 1960s, no preservation microfilming standards were consulted, and the Association was not expecting that the film would be used by the general public. This means that it is not particularly easy to navigate and unfortunately, the quality is often poor. Many images are too dark to read easily; in places they are out of focus or have scratches or blank areas which obscure content. Most of the originals were discarded after filming and so are only available on the microfilm. A copy of the microfilm is available for borrowing via Interlibrary Loan. General information about records that were not discarded after filming is included in the description of Original Format Records in the overall Scope and Content note for each Record Group.
One of the National Association's goals was to model efficient and effective administrative procedures. To that end, it established a Central File to optimize sharing of information across the Association. Any records of importance to the Association as a whole were submitted for filing in the Central File. It was this Central File, consisting of Minutes and Reports, Subject Files, and Community (or "Local") Associations Files, that was microfilmed beginning in 1964.
The arrangement of the records on the microfilm appears to reflect the order in which the files were maintained at National Headquarters. Microfilming was done in four batches between 1964 and 1984. The final set of materials filmed (minutes and reports) contains some items dated as late as 1975, but most sections of the microfilm end in 1970.
USING THE MICROFILM
Because it was not originally conceived as a research tool for use by the general public, the microfilm was not made according to preservation microfilming standards and it can be difficult to navigate.
The frames on the reels are not numbered, but each reel is divided into numbered sections, known as "Microdexes." Most "Microdexes" contain multiple (unnumbered) targets. Due to the lack of frame numbers, it can be difficult to determine where you are when looking at a reel. To facilitate navigation, the Microfilmed Records Reel Lists include entries for every target on the film.
The words used on the targets reflect the YWCA's filing system circa 1960 and can be difficult to interpret. The Project Archivist added supplementary text to the reel lists in square brackets to help clarify, amplify, or correct targets that are abbreviated, incomplete, incorrect, or missing altogether.
In various places on the film, rather than making separate targets for small groups of documents, YWCA staff wrote target-like information in large letters across the top of a document to serve as a sort of target substitute. In this reel list, such target substitutes appear in parentheses.
Dates appear only sporadically on the microfilm targets. The Project Archivist added them to the reel lists for Sections 1 and 2.
For example on reel 53, at Microdex 5 the reel list appears as follows:
Staff Reports A-Z
Items without parentheses or square brackets are as they appear on the targets on the film (with dates added.)
When items were filmed out of order, they were generally placed at the end of a reel, with a long blank space preceding them. Usually there is a target saying "Renewal of Microdexes" followed by the reel and microdex numbers of the related materials. In these lists, these materials are listed where they actually are on the microfilm, and a note was added to the list in the place where the out-of-order materials should have been filmed, indicating that there are additional materials on another reel.
Example: [additional materials on reel 101]
The Microfilm reel list is in three parts. The lists are in PDF format (Adobe Acrobat Reader required):
PART 1. PREDECESSOR ORGANIZATIONS AND MINUTES AND REPORTS(reels 1, 1A, 2-17, 282, 278-280, 346-382):
PART 2. SUBJECT FILE:
PART 3. LOCAL ASSOCIATIONS FILES: Files recording interactions between the National Association and Community Associations and Registered Groups and inquiries re forming new assns. (Student Associations are not included.) Due to time constraints, this list was not extensively edited and is much the same as the list included in the 1978 "Inventory to the Records Files Collection of the National Board of the Young Women's Christian Association" prepared by Louisa Bowen.
Local Associations files are in order by state and then usually by location (city or town) of the Association. Microfilmed records about each Association are listed in alphabetical order, though they may not have been filmed precisely in that order. There is often a "Miscellaneous" section as first thing filmed for each state.
Part 3 is in 3 parts:
Generally, everything is filmed in reverse chronological order.
A copy of the microfilmed records of the YWCA of the U.S.A. Records is available to borrow from the William Allan Neilson Library at Smith College via Interlibrary Loan.
To request the microfilm from our library you will need to submit the following information to your library's Interlibrary Loan department:
The microfilm reel list is divided into 3 (PDF) files: