YWCA of the U.S.A. Records. Record Group 5. International Work
Scope and Content
Forms part of the YWCA of the U.S.A. Records.
NOTE: For the most part, the Microfilmed Records and the Original Format Records do not duplicate each other and both should be consulted. This description covers materials in both formats. See the Contents List for a folder-level inventory of the Original Format Records. See the Microfilmed Records Reel Lists for a detailed inventory of the microfilm.
The records of the YWCA of the U.S.A.'s international work consist of minutes, reports, publications and other printed materials, studies and surveys, position papers and statements, historical materials, subject and reference files, correspondence, conference and training materials, rosters and other personnel files, lists, and memorabilia.
Like other divisions or departments of the National Association, the variously named department dealing with international work's activities and programs were very intertwined with those of the other departments, as well member associations. Anyone desiring information about the international work of the YWCA of the U.S.A. must look at these materials, but depending upon the specific topic, will probably also want to consult the records of other relevant departments. For example, RECORD GROUP 7. STUDENT WORK, documents the International Division's interest in Foreign Students visiting the United States and student support of international mission work, among other things. Materials in RECORD GROUP 6. PROGAM, SERIES V, Subseries E. Religion inudes records related to World Fellowship, a major concern of the international arm of the national association.
The bulk of the records of the international work are dated from 1907 to 1970, the interval covered by the microfilmed Central File and Minutes and Reports. After 1970 the surviving records are more scarce and fragmentary due to decreased attention to the central filing system and the reduction of international staff and program.
Some of the major subjects of the records are the history, organization, and functions of YWCA international work: the international study of the YWCA and YMCA, conducted in the late 1920s; budgets and finance, including the International Building Fund; World Fellowship; leadership training for national staff and volunteers and YWCA women in other countries; conferences, meetings, and international study seminars; international affairs and development; cooperation with other countries; and relationships with other organizations, especially the World YWCA, United Nations and the U.S. government.
General minutes and reports of the Department's meetings, as well as its sections and committees provide an overview of its activities through the years. Overseas secretaries recorded their experiences in reports and correspondence from approximately 1907 through the 1960s, but the bulk of them, and the ones containing the most depth and detail, span from 1915 through World War II, the heyday of the overseas secretaries. After the war, the change in focus from Asia and Europe to Africa and the Middle East (attention to Latin America was more consistent), means that there are more reports from those countries for the decades after World War II.
Microfilmed Records, 1890-1970 only
The microfilmed records of the International Division are far more extensive than those that have survived in their original format, relating to subjects that are barely touched upon in the hard copy files, such as budgets, or not addressed at all, such as activities related to specific countries like Australia, Canada, and a number of European countries.
Minutes and Reports of the Foreign Division also include minutes and reports of "Sections," such as those for Europe and Latin America. There are also other records such as newsletters to the staff abroad and the International studies for the various countries. For minutes related to international work after 1961, see the Original Format records.
The Subject File includes some administrative records concerning finances, annual meetings, committees, statistics, relationship with the World YWCA, subjects like emigration/immigration and "World Emergency" (World War II); and files of publications, lists, manuals and other miscellaneous activities of the International Division. The bulk of the records are extensive reports, correspondence and other materials arranged alphabetically by country. The international work department is notable for retaining far more correspondence than other departments of the National Association, perhaps because it was often the best documentation of the department's activities and accomplishments abroad and thus had a secondary usefulness for promoting international work in the local associations. The voluminous reports and correspondence of overseas secretaries are the heart of this portion of the microfilm, but there is also material about conferences, conventions, history, studies, real estate, personnel; and constitutions and publications from national programs, in China for example. [Note that reels 152-153, containing reports from China, are missing. The Original Format Records appear to include at least a few of these missing reports.]
Records relating to International Work can be found on the microfilm under:
Original Format Records, 1907-2000, n.d., 13 linear feet
Most of the original format records of international work, with the exception of Minutes, some staff reports, and the International Study, where there is a great deal of overlap, were discarded after microfilming, so it is crucial to consult the microfilm.
The bulk of the surviving paper records are dated from the 1920s through the 1980s. There is a great deal of duplication of records on the microfilm, but they also include materials donated to the National Board Archives after the microfilming was completed that probably were not filmed, such as office files of individuals working on a particular project or program.
1970-2000 (post-microfilm) materials include published and printed materials about the international program of the YWCA, minutes (far more sparse than for earlier decades), records of numerous committees active in that period, and a large proportion of the Projects and Programs Series, reflecting the shift after World War II from focus on recruiting, training and supporting overseas secretaries to broader subject programs. Countries and Regions is a combination of older records, such as staff reports and minutes of various Sections that are duplicated on the microfilm; and reference materials about the various countries and regions that were collected by the National Board Library/Archives from various sources, including individual YWCA personnel.
See also Related Materials.