YWCA of the U.S.A. Records. Record Group 6. Program: Series III. Public Advocacy
Scope and Contents
Forms part of the YWCA of the U.S.A. Records--Record Group 6. Program.
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.
Public Advocacy files include general historical materials, committee and subcommittee records, mailings to Associations, publications, program materials, reference files on program issues, reports, surveys, and training materials dating from 1911 to 2000.
Committee records, publications and a few reference files were kept as part of the organization's Central File and were therefore microfilmed. The extensive Program Subject files, maintained separately from the Central File were not microfilmed. These chronicle the YWCA's activities in a wide variety of public policy areas and are available only in original format.
Committee and Subcommittee records document formulation of the National Public Affairs Program as well as drafting of related correspondence with legislators, letters to editors, and other kinds of public statements. It was the duty of Public Advocacy staff to keep abreast of developments related to the Program, monitoring the progress of legislation and collecting related newspaper clippings, pamphlets, and brochures to gauge public opinion and keep informed about ongoing developments.
Regular mailings to Associations and a variety of publications, including both pamphlets and serials, such as Public Affairs News Service, were tools for "interpretation" of the Program. These materials provided ideas and strategies for use by Community and Student Associations to help mold public opinion.
The records reflect the challenges of dealing with controversy stirred by some of the YWCA's more radical stances, and the effects of those stances on funding of the Association. Though the YWCA came to see its public policy work as part of its Christian duty, many in the general public expected a religious organization to stay out of the public sphere.
Microfilmed Records, 1906-70 only
Records on the microfilm consist of only those materials kept in the Central File and are less extensive than those that survive in original format. Both should be consulted.
Microfilmed records include minutes and reports of the Public Affairs Committee, general subject files on selected public advocacy issues (such as the U.S. Government, labor, peace, communism, and narcotics), and the extensive serials and other publications produced by the program. They can be found on the microfilm under:
Original Format Records, 1906-2000, 34 linear feet
The original format records are arranged in two subseries:
Subseries A. General
Subseries B. Program Subject Files
Subseries A. General is divided in nine sections: General and History, Office/Staff, Committees and Subcommittees, Mailings, Programs and Projects, Publications, Reports, Surveys, and Training.
Much of the material in General and History appears to have been gathered or created as part of the 50th Anniversary of the Public Affairs Program which was celebrated jointly with the National Council of Jewish Women in 1961-62. Included are a variety of chronologies and subject indexes detailing the YWCA's public policy activities over time. There are also copies of the Program passed at each Convention.
Office/Staff contains a variety of general materials about the office and its communications with Community Associations and others about the Program and about various controversies associated with it.
Committees and Subcommittees consists primarily of minutes, reports, and rosters. A few notes and working drafts give a sense of the process for formulating the Program. The files are relatively comprehensive up to 1969, but contain almost nothing from the 1970s and 1980s and only a few items from the 1990s.
To keep the membership informed about ongoing developments related to the Program, the Committee sent regular Mailings of "Circular Letters" to Community and Student Associations. Items date from 1922 to 1950 and the late 1980s through 2000.
Records in Programs and Projects consists primarily of files related to Child Care, Political Participation, and Violence Prevention programs dating from the late 1980s to 2000. Included are funding proposals, publications, files from workshops, media kits, correspondence and clippings about events at Community Associations.
Public Advocacy Publications consist of brochures, booklets, program materials, organizing kits, and serials to inform the membership about the issues and provide suggestions for activities aimed at forming public opinon.
Reports consists primarily of Committee/Council reports to the National Board on Program activities, 1920-88.
Surveys document late 1990s-2001 questionnaires to Community YWCAs about programs they offer, particularly anti-violence and child care.
Training contains scattered study course, orientation materials, and kits dating from 1927 to 2002.
Subseries B. Program Subject Files consists of files created and maintained by Public Advocacy staff to be a central source of information accessible by subject. They were maintained separately from the YWCA's Central File and were not microfilmed.
They include copies of pending legislation, correspondence with legislators and other organizations, excerpts clipped from Committee and National Board minutes, excerpts clipped from YWCA publications, a wide variety of pamphlets, brochures, newsletters, and flyers put out by other organizations, congressional testimony, friend of the court briefs, texts of speeches, and press releases.
The files were designed to allow YWCA staff to be well-informed about each topic, including the major arguments for and against it, the Association's past activities related to that subject, and the forces aligned against its position. The files originally contained clippings from the mainstream press (including the New York Times and Post, the Washington Post, The Nation, Congressional Record, and the National Capital Reporter). Due to deterioration of the poor-quality paper, any clippings used on for reference, that did not make mention of the YWCA were discarded.
In some cases, the Program Subject Files contain carbon copies of YWCA officers' correspondence that was not retained as part of the Central File documenting activities that are not reflected elsewhere in the Records.
As is true elsewhere in the Records, not much has survived from 1970s and 1980s.
The Program Subject Files are arranged according to the categories or sections in the "Public Affairs Program" as follows:
It is not unusual for subject areas to overlap and for similar or even duplicate records to appear in more than one category.
In other Series in this Record Group
Materials produced for presenting the Public Advocacy goals of the National Association, can be found particularly in the SERIES IV. CONSTITUENT GROUPS, especially in Conference files, and in SERIES V. PROGRAM SUBJECTS. The YWCA magazine (in SERIES VI. PUBLICATIONS) has extensive coverage of public advocacy issues.
In other Record Groups
Educational work in international relations appears throughout RECORD GROUP 5. INTERNATIONAL WORK.
RECORD GROUP 4. CONFERENCES AND CONVENTIONS contains records of the process for formulating and approving the Public Advocacy Program including records of discussion on the floor of the Convention. The files also often contain press coverage with initial reactions to the Program as approved.
The correspondence and controversy sections of SERIES I. GENERAL ADMINISTRATION in RECORD GROUP 3. NATIONAL ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE, reveal some of the public response to more controversial positions, and the associated effects on fund-raising, etc.
Records of the Student Work in RECORD GROUP 7. reflect the students' strong influence on the Public Affairs Program.
RECORD GROUP 10. AUDIOVISUAL MATERIALS includes footage of YWCA participation in a few demonstrations, television coverage and public service announcements related to the Week Without Violence campaigns of the 1990s, and Institute for Public Leadership training sessions from the late 1980s and early 1990s.