YWCA of the U.S.A. Records. Record Group 6. Program: Series IV. Constituent Groups
Scope and Content
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.
This Series is divided into five Subseries:
SUBSERIES A. EMPLOYED WOMEN
The Young Women's Christian Association movement was founded to address concerns about the welfare of young, single working women who had moved to urban areas for jobs. Individual Associations in Cities and Towns offered them a range of services (such as housing, job placement, and cafeterias); vocational, recreational, and enrichment opportunities (such as classes, concerts, libraries, and gymnasium facilities); and prayer groups and other religious activities to serve their mental, moral, physical, and spiritual welfare. The idea was to introduce working women to a life beyond drudgery and to offer the potential for self-expression and job training. [See RECORD GROUP 2. PREDECESSOR ORGANIZATIONS]
In the early years, Women's Christian Associations and YWCAs used the word "Industrial" to refer to any kind of non-professional employment-women earning a living by their own "industry." YWCA Industrial Club members worked in factories, mills, laundries, hotels, department stores, telephone offices, domestic service (known as "household employment" in the YWCA.), etc.
Though the YWCA's original efforts on behalf of employed women did not exclude any type of work, the limited options open to women in the mid-nineteenth century meant that the majority of working women served by the YW were not employed in offices or the professions. This had changed by the end of the century as more and more women found work in offices and retail stores, where the work was clean and "light," the hours were generally shorter, and some opportunities for advancement existed. Many young office workers belonged to the Industrial Club at their Community YWCA, but often felt that issues specific to their work lives were not being addressed there.
Much of the initial "Industrial-Extension" work by the predecessor organizations took place inside factory buildings under the auspices of the employer. The Association was essentially "used by the employer as his agent for welfare work." As they became better acquainted with factory conditions and workers' struggles, YWCA secretaries felt this arrangement compromised their ability to work effectively with and on behalf of the employees. Though the Association needed the financial support provided by employers, it decided it could only accept their money if it was applied to the entire Association and did not specifically finance work with the Industrial women. Clubs that were originally organized "within factory walls" moved off site, but often retained the name of the factory and roster of members drawn from its work rolls. In some cases, Clubs evolved into Industrial Branches affiliated with a central City Association.
When the predecessor organizations merged to form the YWCA of the U.S.A., the National Association augmented the direct work being done under the auspices of Community Associations in what would become its classic fashion: making ongoing studies of the existing conditions to determine workers' needs, and developing methods and techniques to help meet those needs.
Beyond the enrichment and general educational opportunities offered to all YWCA members, the national program for employed women came to include a strong public advocacy component on behalf of workers [see SERIES III. PUBLIC ADVOCACY]; aid in the formation of self-governing Councils of working women; leadership training and administrative support for the Councils; and development of a multitude of ways "interpret" employed women's issues to the general membership.
In 1908 the National Association decided to experiment with serving professional workers, through the establishment of a Cooperating Committee with the Central Club for Nurses in New York City. Nineteenth century advances in the medical profession dramatically altered the nurse's job from that of a domestic helper primarily employed in the home, to professionally trained employees in a rapidly increasing array of new hospitals. In typical YWCA manner, National Staff studied existing conditions, identified needs, and recommended ways the Association might meet those needs. Once the work was established, the Cooperating Committee was absorbed into the YWCA of the City of New York, and the National Association made use of its experience to help formulate program for other professional workers.
In her 1911-12 biennial report to the Method Department, Industrial Secretary Florence Simms noted an overall "change of policy of the Association from the adaptation of the girl to the organization to the adaptation of the organization to the girl . . .," the "natural outgrowth" of which was the "further development of the principle of self-government in the club work." For the program to be truly useful, it had to be initiated and run by the club members and not by YWCA staff.
From 1913 the National Association encouraged "federation" of these small self-governing clubs into larger Councils based in cities or regions. In structure, the Councils mirrored the National Association. Local Clubs banded together into city, state, or regional groups. These self-governing groups gave members a chance to experience democracy, learn leadership and group work techniques, and understand the interdependence of all working women.
Club Councils held at summer camps in 1913 brought representatives from Industrial Clubs to regional conferences at Altamont in New York, Nepawhin in Pennsylvania, and Lake Geneva in Wisconsin. Here, along with the usual YWCA camp activities, delegates discussed ways to widen the influence of Industrial Clubs, suggested plans for further federation of clubs, and made plans for educational work.
In the first few years, Club Councils were primarily concerned with "executive technique," such as how to organize groups and activities and different ways to raise money. By 1917 the Council experience had broadened the industrial member's horizon from "just her own factory" to include the industrial needs of women throughout the country. Attendees were seeing themselves "industrially," making recommendations about how Industrial Clubs might work on behalf of minimum wage laws, advocate for health insurance, and promote efforts aimed at improving working conditions.
The Councils asked the National Association to develop new evening classes "different in many respects from the older type of ukulele and millinery" (The YWCA and Industry, 1928). It included topics such as: furnishing the home and what makes a house a home, as well as economics and labor problems, history, English, and public speaking, legislative questions, and how a city is governed.
Through their Studies and interactions with Club members, Industrial Secretaries on the National staff and in Community Associations had plenty of experience of the struggles of industrial workers, but the YWCA's intense involvement in World War I brought much more direct consciousness of these problems to the Association as a whole. [see SERIES VII. WAR WORK AND DEFENSE SERVICES].
World War I brought a dramatic increase in the number of women "being thrust into business" and prompted the National Association to begin specialized work with business and professional women. Early in 1918 the Association hired its first secretary for work with business and professional women. In May of that year the YWCA sponsored a national conference of business and professional women, who were not necessarily YWCA members, to consult on what kind of work might best serve this constituency. The Business and Professional women responded with appreciation for the work the YW was doing, but had concerns about whether the membership requirement (in order to be a YW member one had to be a member of an Evangelical Protestant church) was appropriate for a national business organization. During the conference, the Business and Professional women established a National Business Women's Committee which had its first meeting immediately following adjournment.
The Committee held its first Convention in St. Louis the following year and decided to form an independent organization, the National Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs. Acknowledging the special needs of younger women, this group encouraged the YWCA to continue its efforts on behalf of their youngest sisters.
In October of 1919 the YWCA called its first National Conference of Industrial Club members "with the hope of phrasing a message" for the first International Congress of Working Women that would "clarify the relationship of Christianity to the present situation of women in industry." At the end of the conference, the delegates submitted a set of resolutions for eventual submission to the YWCA National Convention. The resolutions included a list of standards "which our industrial membership believes might form the basis of favorable working and living conditions for all industrial working women," accompanied by a recommendation that the National Association should promote education on industrial questions among all Association members and that "women should use their newly acquired power of the franchise to secure the writing of these standards into laws."
The resolutions reached the Convention in 1920 in the form of a recommendation that the YWCA adopt as its social program the "Social Ideals of the Churches" which had been articulated by the Federal Council of Churches in 1912. For the first time Industrial Club members took an active part in Convention proceedings, and their speeches from the floor "were quite largely responsible for the passage of that platform."
In "An Historical Outline of the Work of the Industrial Department," Grace Coyle described the import of the moment as the point at which the "social thought of the Association had crystallized sufficiently so that it was ready to take a stand nationally . . . . [I]t represented the fact that we...as an organization assumed responsibility for changing those [working] conditions until they came nearer to the Christian conception of society as a human brotherhood."
The National Association was so impressed by the activities of Industrial membership during World War I and its Council work after the war, that it voted to authorize formation of a National Industrial Assembly at the 1922 Convention. Assemblies allowed various constituent groups to gather "for acquaintance with one another and for consideration of their part in the life of women through their membership in the YWCA." They functioned like mini-Conventions where the membership debated and approved resolutions and program for Clubs to carry out in the following years. They were autonomous groups authorized to make decisions on behalf of their constituency and subject to the total membership only in matters of consequence to the entire Association. Assemblies selected a National Council (equivalent to the National Board of the YWCA) to draft program and resolutions, plan Assemblies, and oversee progress on projects and program in the interim between Conventions.
The National Association hired its first National Secretary for work with Business and Professional women in 1922 and moved to establish a National Business Assembly at Convention in 1924.
Conferences played a major role in the programs for employed women providing a broadening experience that re-energized members. They were planned by Area Councils and often included National Staff as facilitators. Summer conferences or councils, designed on the model of the traditional student summer conferences, lasted for ten days and were held in inexpensive vacation spots, such as at summer camps or on college campuses. For many they offered "a chance for a real vacation," combined with an opportunity to understand the shared concerns and interdependence of working women. The general educational program included traditional YWCA topics, such as religion, government and citizenship, interracial relations, world fellowship, and Association principles and practices. The "technical hours" were the "setting-up conference" for planning the work for the year. Attendees divided into commissions that worked on subjects such as education; social service; club organization; and issues specific to working women, such as consumer interests, occupational health and safety, trade unions, etc. Personal development activities included writing groups, music, dramatics, and various opportunities for outdoor recreation.
Weekend conferences were an especially strong tradition among Business and Professional Clubs. They were initiated and executed by Business and Professional staff and club members of several Community Associations in geographic proximity. They provided opportunities for conference chairs to gather the "thinking and concerns" of the members and convey that to Area Councils and summer conferences. National staff attended whenever possible.
Both Councils also sponsored yearly events to celebrate their unity and common concerns with a banquet and program held on the same night. For Business and Professional Clubs the event was known as the Nation-wide Observance (later, World-wide Observance). The Industrial Club version was known as National Industrial Progress Day.
To bring working women's concerns to the full Association and the general public, Eleanor Coit, National Industrial Secretary, encouraged Industrial Secretaries in Community Associations to use their regular contact with industrial members to gather "a fund of human experience that needs to get into the consciousness of the public." Feeling acutely the inadequacy of the national research staff, Coit encouraged local secretaries to use the "story method" to collect information. The main emphases of the program for 1926-27 were married women in industry and the racial factor in industry.
National staff spent considerable time on labor education in the 1930s, whether participating in YWCA conferences or in the Bryn Mawr and Wisconsin Summer Schools for women in industry.
"More and more thinking men and women are realizing how largely shortages in people's lives are due to shortages in their education. A large percentage of the membership of the YWCA consists of women whose education has been cut short at an early age, and who are for this reason seriously handicapped not only in the business of earning a living, but also in the business of living. To enable these women to bridge over the gaps in their education is, therefore, becoming an increasingly important concern of this organization, especially now that women are assuming heavier responsibilities as citizens than they have ever shouldered before" (When Labor Goes to School, 1920).
By the end of World War I, the National Association had developed relatively elaborate programs for Industrial, Business and Professional, and eventually Agricultural workers with associated specialist staff. The YWCA was always somewhat ambivalent about whether the various groups of employed women were different enough to warrant separate groups. While some issues were unique to a particular category of job, many issues were shared and much of the general YWCA program was essentially identical for all groups of working women. With the loss of wartime and continuation funding and the onset of the Great Depression, it became difficult for the National Association to continue to support the programs and for the Club members to afford conferences and travel to council meetings.
During the Depression, the two Councils were both heavily involved in work on the problems related to the widespread unemployment. A 1928 Convention Action called for Community Associations to devise methods for aiding the unemployed in their area, and charged the National Association to cooperate with other organizations to "promote adequate protection and remedial measures in the stabilization of employment." Results of local studies and articles by outside experts and YWCA staff were collected together in a "Symposium" for use at the 1930 Convention. Supplementary budget appropriations in 1931 supported research and development of a group of publications on how to deal with the challenges, including such topics as making constructive use of enforced leisure time, the social consequences of widespread unemployment, and services for transient and homeless women.
The National Association's mid-1930s plan to concentrate on the Association "as a whole" rather than its constituent parts meant that the Councils got less support and participation from National staff. Strong interest, particularly in the Industrial Council, kept employed women's Councils going through World War II despite dwindling membership.
By the late 1940s the Councils began to look for ways to revitalize the programs for working women. They asked for increased national support, particularly in the form of studies. The Business, Professional, and Industrial Experimentation Committee carried out experimental studies in eleven selected communities to find new ways of strengthening program with young employed women.
The National Board appointed an Ad Hoc Committee to Study the Future of Business, Professional and Industrial Assembly and Council Structure and its related conferences and program in 1948. Given the National Association's general movement away from programs aimed at constituent groups, part of the Committee's charge was to determine whether the National Association should continue to support the Councils at all. Its January 1949 report proposed combining the two Councils into a single National Employed Women's Council with equal numbers of members drawn from the Industrial and Business and Professional constituency. While B and P accepted the idea, the Industrial Council was less enthusiastic. In the end, they devised a compromise plan in which the two Assemblies would meet together as the National Employed Women's Coordinating Assembly which would have complete responsibility for matters of mutual concern, such as dues, program, trends, and cooperation, and each would continue to meet separately on matters specific to the different types of work.
As of 1950 National oversight of the work with employed women became the responsibility of the Young Adult Committee/Council which had general responsibility for all members not in high school or college, whether in the workforce or not. [See Subseries E. Young Adults.]
Some study and experimentation continued until 1952, but the self-governing groups for employed women did not ultimately survive. Efforts on behalf of working women on the national level continued primarily as part of the Public Advocacy program. The National Association also sponsored or co-sponsored periodic conferences or consultations on women and work.
As a result of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, the National Association got involved in two new projects for employed women in the late 1960s: the Business Office Culture Project, and the Job-Corps YWCA Extension Residence Program. Both of these projects were funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, administered by the National Association, and carried out in selected Community Associations. The Business Office Culture Project (circa 1968-69) provided technical training and an introduction to the "culture" of the business world. The National Association's involvement with Job-Corps (1967-75) was to run small (15-30 person) residences for young women who had completed the Job-Corps vocational training program. Here the trainees could gain experience living and working independently with support and supervision from YWCA counselors and program specialists. The Government did not renew the national contract as of the spring of 1975, but it encouraged Job Corps Regional Offices to enter into contracts with local YWCAs.
As the National Association grew, it noted an increasing number of Industrial Club members in domestic service, or "Household Employment," particularly in its "Colored" Branches. The National Association made regular studies and surveys of conditions beginning in 1915 with the appointment of the Commission on Household Employment. In 1928 it participated in the formation of the National Committee on Employer-Employee Relationships in the Home, which later evolved into the National Council on Household Employment. The YWCA was one of the Council's cooperating agencies with a member on its Board. The National Association also advocated for a voluntary employer-employee agreement covering issues such as maximum hours, minimum wage, living arrangements, regular payment of wages, etc.
The Industrial Assembly took up the subject at its 1925 Conferences and adopted it as one of its Projects in 1931. The National Association and the Industrial Assembly collected data on working conditions and training programs. With the staff reductions and reorganization of the early 1930s, the work, which had been associated with the Industrial Department, became "loosely" attached to Public Affairs through its Subcommittee on Household Employment. This Subcommittee gathered data from the various groups studying the "household employment problem" in the YWCA. Because YWCA constituency included both employers and employees, the Subcommittee felt the YWCA constituted "the best working laboratory in the world" for studying the situation. Their recommended program for improving employer-employee relations included study and discussion groups, promotion of a voluntary agreement on employment terms, legislation, and cooperative relationships with organized groups of employers and employees.
By the late 1930s this Subcommittee was mainly advocating for legislation, such as the inclusion of domestic employees in the Social Security program. Beginning in the mid-1940s discussions about the general decline in participation of working women in the YWCA and ever decreasing numbers of domestic workers included the decision that the Association could not continue to devote part of its limited resources to household employment issues.
Scope and Content
Employed Women Program records include general and history files; committee and department minutes and reports; extensive conference files; National and Regional Council records; organizations files; programs and projects files; publications; reference materials; studies; and training materials.
Most of the records in this series are those gathered in the National Association's Central File, and date primarily from the post World War I staff reorganization and the establishment of the National Assemblies (1922-24) up to 1950. Earlier materials (primarily Industrial) can be found in Method Department records in Series I of this Record Group. Few records date from after 1950 when the working women's Councils were combined with other groups into the Young Adult Council. There are a few files on the Business Office Culture Project and Job-Corps YWCA Extension Residence Programs of the 1960s and 70s, and scattered items from the 1980s. [see also Subseries E. Young Adults]
Because the working women's clubs and councils were self-governing groups, the records associated with their activities, including the conferences they planned, were often written by the working women themselves. While some of the documents are reports by National Staff on attendance at conferences or council meetings, much is in the voice of the working women members.
The extensive Conference files can include: planning materials such as local arrangements files, mailings, and pre-conference study materials; items for use during the conference such as programs, schedules, handouts, training materials, daily meditations, skit scripts, song sheets, and bulletins with drawings and other art work, poetry and fiction by conference participants; and summary materials such as reports, participants lists, financial records, training materials, and evaluations.
The Household Employment files were compiled for the YWCA's Central Subject File and include various records of various committees and commissions working on related issues, as well as local associations files with correspondence, reports, surveys, and reference materials on household employment issues and training programs (not necessarily YW programs) in various regions of the country.
Microfilmed Records, 1906-70 only
Most of the records on the microfilm were retained in original format. The one category of records that is probably more complete in original format is publications. Records of program related to Employed Women can be found on the microfilm under:
Original Format Records, 1870-84, n.d., 24.5 linear feet
Most of the records that were microfilmed were retained in original format. The one category of records that is probably more complete in original format is publications.
Materials about the YWCA's work with employed women is in sections as follows:
General contains records of combined B and P, Industrial, and Agricultural activities, committees, conferences, and councils. There are also files on early (1906-19) general working women's groups, general employment-related publications and studies, and general work-related projects from the 1960s and 70s (including the Job-Corps YWCA Extension Residence Program). Records of YWCA research projects, publications, and activities related to Unemployment during the 1920s and 1930s are filed at the end of this section.
Business and Professional Women contains general historical materials, committee minutes, extensive summer and weekend conference records, National and Area Council and National Assembly records, files on work with related organizations, a few files on the Business Office Culture Project of the late-1960s, publications, and studies.
Household Employment contains general historical materials, committee and commission records, Local Associations files; records of Industrial Assembly and Conference Household Employment Project, files on cooperating organizations, publications, and reference materials.
Industrial Work contains general historical materials, including some files on local Industrial Clubs and Committees, Committee records, extensive Summer and Weekend/Mid-winter Conference files, National and Area Council records; files on National Assemblies, program and project files, publications, reports, studies, and training materials.
In other Subseries in this Series:
Subseries D. Teen Age and Younger Girls Program contains studies of younger employed girls and program materials created for them, plus additional Younger Girls in Business and Industry (YGBI) Clubs. There are also records of some employment training programs and projects developed specifically for teenagers, such as the Young Women's Employment Project (1980s), and the Youth Workers Team Learning Project (1970s).
Subseries E. Young Adults has records of the consolidated programs for YW-Wives, younger employed women, Students, and Teen-Agers dating from 1950 to 1979.
In other Series in this Record Group:
SERIES III. PUBLIC ADVOCACY contains records of the YWCA's involvement with labor legislation and other workers' issues.
SERIES VII. WAR WORK AND DEFENSE SERVICES contains records of the YWCA's work on behalf of women mobilized into Industry in both World Wars.
In other Record Groups:
Records of the two predecessor organizations document their work on behalf of employed women are in RECORD GROUP 2. PREDECESSOR ORGANIZATIONS AND NATIONAL BOARD.
RECORD GROUP 4. NATIONAL CONVENTIONS AND CONFERENCES has small files on Industrial and B and P Assemblies convened at Conventions and documentation of resolutions and actions related to employed women's issues.
RECORD GROUP 7. STUDENT WORK: The Student Department formed clubs and developed summer Student-Industrial Programs in the 1920s and 30s to bring together college students and working women for joint study and Christian fellowship.
RECORD GROUP 8. COMMUNITY ASSOCIATIONS: The earliest discussions of the new National Association's work with employed women are recorded in the records of the Association Extension Committee. Other materials can be found in the records of the Rural Communities Department, Mill Villages work and rural-industrial studies, and Employment and Room Registry reports on local conditions. Microfilmed Local Associations files contain records of interactions between National Staff and Industrial Branches and some studies of local industrial conditions. They also contain records of the national organization's interaction with Mill Village YWCAs.
RECORD GROUP 8. COMMUNITY ASSOCIATIONS The Local Associations files on the microfilm have records of National Association contacts with "Industrial" branches in some cities.
In Personal Papers:
The Lillian Sharpley Papers contain notes and drafts for a history of the YWCA's work with Business and Professional women.
The Grace Dodge Papers contain a scrapbook of writings with many articles about household employment.
SUBSERIES B. IMMIGRATION AND FOREIGN COMMUNITIES
One of the tasks of the staff of the newly established YWCA of the U.S.A. was to decide what kinds of work the National Association should do; which existing YWCA activities it should try to coordinate at the national level and what new types of work it should attempt. Examination of these issues was the charge of the Extension and Sociological Investigation Committee (later the Association Extension Committee) which had its first meeting late in 1907. It seems to have been a given that City, Student, and Foreign work would continue under the new National Association, but all other types of "extension" of the work were first studied by the Committee.
At its first meeting in 1907 the Extension and Sociological Investigation Committee of the new National Association considered, among other things, whether or how the National Association should serve young immigrant women. At issue were "the difficulty of other religious organizations working there, owing to the almost complete control of the field by the Catholic church" and "the seeming necessity for settlement work, since there are so many men, women and children in need, young women being in the minority." Given these complications, the Committee resolved to study the matter further. Over its first year they received suggestions from various organizations about specific ways the YWCA might serve young immigrant women, such as meeting them upon arrival, assisting them to their destination, and aiding them in finding employment. Another area of concern was "the Americanization and Christianization of immigrant girls working in American homes."
YWCA of the USA president Grace Dodge appointed a Special Committee of Research and Investigation in April 1910 in response to "recent revelations of the adverse conditions surrounding Immigrant women and girls as they come to America" which made it "imperative that the [YWCA] . . . should at least study the question to see if there is a need which it can meet, which is not being met by any other organization." After a summer of study in New York City, the National Association inaugurated a demonstration program for young immigrant women in the fall of 1910 under the auspices of the Association Extension Committee.
The National Association engaged Edith Terry [later Bremer] to establish what eventually became the International Institute of the City of New York. The Institute initially offered English classes and staff wrote and published materials for adults learning the language. Members of the Special Committee visited Community Associations outside of New York to consult and coordinate their fledgling immigrant programs.
The National Association's work with foreign-born women aimed to "serve the Association and the entire American community by bringing into association women of many nationalities, widening the acquaintance and increasing the understanding of all, and developing internationalism by training in internationality friendships." It was also designed to serve "the immigrant woman by helping her to a 'more abundant life' . . . helping her and her American-born daughter to understand and appreciate each other," and to make the U.S. known and loved by its new citizens. The specifics of the program were tailored to the interests and needs of the constituents, but the basic idea was essentially the same as elsewhere in the Association.
In addition to English classes, the Association program for young immigrant women came to include "wholesome recreation," technical classes to raise their "economic value," practical and scientific instruction for home life or domestic service (for those wishing it), understanding of American standards and ideals, and "character" instruction.
National Staff facilitated the establishment of special branches of Community YWCAs to serve non-English speaking young women wherever the size of a city's immigrant population warranted it. The National Association decided to call these branches International Institutes, once it learned that the word "Association" had negative (commercial or radical) connotations for Europeans. By contrast "Institutes" were associated with "protection obtained and something learned."
National work on behalf of immigrant women also included work fostering understanding and appreciation of their cultures among the total membership and the general public. In addition to texts for teaching English as a second language, National staff for "Immigration and Foreign Communities" work produced "technical" materials about cultures, languages, history, and customs, and corresponded with Community Associations and various other organizations about "relating to foreign people." An adaptation of the Eight Week Club Plan, called International Friendship Clubs, matched college YWCA women home for the summer with high school girls in small towns. Program staff developing ideas for recreational activities incorporated research by the Foreign Communities staff into song books, programs for folk festivals, and suggestions for programs, pageants, and plays. The National Association encouraged celebration of the richness these cultures brought to the U.S. and to the Association. YWCA serials consistently included articles, and Conferences regularly incorporated some kind of program, designed to foster appreciation in the general membership of immigrant issues and cultures.
World War I precipitated a significant increase in both the size and complexity of the national program of "Work with Foreign-Born Women." In her first report for the fall of 1917, Edith Terry Bremer noted that "The American idea about immigrants has completely changed." The War suddenly made "every foreign home a place of dread and fear and suspicion." "It is queer and inconsistent," she wrote in her October 17, 1917 report, "that the same situation that has melted the hearts of Americans toward Europeans in Europe has hardened and made exacting and suspicious those same hearts toward Europeans in America!!!"
In its capacity as a member of the National War Work Council, the YWCA assumed responsibility for the care and protection of women as they were affected by the war. Noting that the effects of the war were even more severe for foreign-born women, the YWCA ramped up its efforts on their behalf. It essentially nationalized what had been a northeastern U.S. operation. With War Work Council funding, multi-lingual secretaries were hired for Port Work, meeting immigrant women at points of intake on the east and west coasts; staff of a new International Information and Service Bureau translated all kinds of technical materials and wrote speeches and information sheets in a variety of languages "upon all matters for which they are needing help;" other secretaries did Emergency Field work to help speed the opening of new International Institutes for young women of all nationalities; a Bureau was established to help in locating refugee relatives in Europe; and the YWCA provided "home service" for the families of enlisted men. To facilitate all this new work and reconstruction work in Europe, the YWCA established training programs for foreign community workers and reconstruction volunteers. Most of the "Foreign Communities" staff worked under the auspices of the War Work Council from the fall of 1917 through the post-war Continuation period. With the nationalization of the efforts, the staff began to serve immigrant populations different from the primarily European groups prevalent in the northeast and Midwest, particularly Mexican immigrants in the southwest and Asian immigrants on the west coast.
Once the Continuation funds were exhausted, the National Association was forced to make drastic cuts to its Foreign Communities staff. Many of the War Work staff found work in the new International Institutes supported by Community YWCAs. With the advent of the Great Depression it became difficult to maintain even a reduced level of services and the Association sought ways to simplify its program. Noting that immigration work was most effective when it included all family members, not just its young women, the National Association and other agencies working on behalf of the foreign born facilitated the creation of a new national organization to oversee the work. The National Institute of Immigrant Welfare, established in 1934, assumed much of the program the YWCA had developed, including administration of the International Institutes. The NIIW named the YWCA's longtime director of Immigration and Foreign Communities Work, Edith Terry Bremer, its first executive director.
From that time National YWCA work related to immigration and immigrants was more-or-less confined to public advocacy. [See SERIES III. PUBLIC ADVOCACY] During World War II, the National Association once again established similar (though more small-scale) services for aiding war refugees. It also ran programs for Japanese-Americans sent to Relocation Centers. [See SERIES VII. WAR WORK AND DEFENSE SERVICES.]
With the exception of African-Americans, the role of racial and ethnic groups in the National Association is largely undocumented between 1934 and the 1970 "One Imperative" Convention and its associated Institutes, Workshops, and Consultations.
That Convention prompted the National Association to broaden its idea about racism to include other racial and ethnic groups in a new "Racial Justice" program. [see Subseries C. Interracial/Racial Justice below]
Scope and Content
Records of the National Immigration and Foreign Communities work includes general historical materials, correspondence, minutes, conference files, records of cooperation with other organizations working on immigration and refugee issues, publications, reference files, reports, studies, and training materials.
The Original Format Records include significant un-microfilmed materials from Elizabeth Hendee, head of the Vocational Guidance Bureau.
Microfilmed Records, 1910-70 only
The Minutes and Reports and much of the Immigration section of the Subject File were not discarded after microfilming, so many of the microfilmed materials can also be consulted in original format.
Local Associations files include records of the national office's interactions with various International Institutes. They can be found on the film following the general files for a local association. (For example, under Missouri, general files about the Saint Louis Association appear on reel 187 at microdex 2, these are followed by "Saint Louis--Carondelet Branch," which is followed by "Saint Louis-International Institute.") These materials were discarded after microfilming, so are only available on the microfilm.
Immigration and Foreign Communities materials can be found on the microfilm under:
Original Format Records, 1911-93, 4.5 linear feet
Beyond the microfilmed Subject File and Minutes and Reports, the original format records contain additional publications, articles and theses about the work, and some of Elizabeth Hendee's Vocational Guidance Bureau office working files received by the National Board Archives long after the records were microfilmed. These files were incorporated into the original format records described below.
The Original format records are arranged as follows:
General and History contains general historical materials including brochures and pamphlets.
Department, Committees, and Commissions contains minutes of the major committees, and some staff meetings; records of the Commission on the Study of the Second Generation Girl, a group studying the challenges faced by the children of new immigrants, 1925-35; department correspondence and mailings called "Program Letters"; records related to process by which the National Association facilitated founding of the National Institute of Immigrant Welfare; general information on International Institutes and their policies; a small group of autobiographies by International Institute members; and some records of the Vocational Guidance Bureau.
Conferences contains records of national conferences of International Institutes and foreign communities YWCA staff, 1917-45.
Organizations has records of interactions with the National Institute of Immigrant Welfare including some committee files and publications dating from its founding in 1934 to 1949. There are also files of correspondence with civil liberties, refugee welfare, and citizenship education organizations from the World War II era.
Publications includes technical bulletins and handbooks for understanding and working with foreign-born members; tools for teaching English as a second language; books about folk festivals, ethnic costumes, and some International Institute cookbooks. There are also several serial publications including Foreign Born, published by the National Association, 1919-22.
Reference files includes bibliographies and subject files compiled by the staff on such topics as race and nationality, displaced persons, "mother tongue," and "background materials" on countries.
Reports includes Department, Committee and Commission, International Institute, secretary and visitation reports, 1910-42.
Studies are on various topics from the 1920s and 30s.
Training materials are primarily related to training staff to work with foreign community members (1918-35) and include some general information about the summer training program at Fletcher Farm in Ludlow, Vermont.
In other Subseries in this Series:
Subseries D. Teenage and Younger Girls: information about other cultures and the lives of foreign-born girls were a regular feature in materials for Teen conferences and in the Teen serial The Bookshelf.
In other Series in this Record Group:
SERIES I. DEPARTMENT, STAFF AND COMMITTEES: Immigration and Foreign Communities staff reported to the Association Extension Committee and then the Research and Method Department up to World War I. Discussions of the work and additional secretary's reports can be found there.
SERIES III. PUBLIC ADVOCACY: Beginning with World War I, the National Program for Public Advocacy included a variety of efforts on behalf of refugees, immigration legislation, and other related topics. After World War II, Public Advocacy is pretty much the only way the National Association is involved in immigrant issues.
SERIES V. PROGRAM SUBJECTS: Much of the educational work associated with education about, and appreciation of, other cultures was produced by staff generating materials for use in recreational programs, including the Music Department, and Pageantry and Drama.
SERIES VI. PUBLICATIONS: The Womans Press published a number of titles for the general public on folk customs, costumes, and festivals. The Association Monthly/Womans Press/YWCA Magazine regularly carried articles on immigrants and immigration issues.
SERIES VII. WAR WORK AND DEFENSE SERVICES: the increased Immigration and Foreign Communities staff during World War I was transferred from the National Association budget to the oversight of the War Work Council. Records of immigration work between the fall of 1917 and the spring of 1920 are filed in this series.
While not as extensive as the activities during World War I, World War II saw a similar increase of activities and staff.
In other Record Groups:
SERIES I. SERVICES TO COMMUNITY ASSOCIATIONS includes discussions of the work, and reports on visits to Community Associations are in the Minutes and Secretaries' reports in this record group, particularly in the City Department.
SERIES IV. COMMUNITY ASSOCIATIONS FILES include information on local studies of the foreign-born situation and records of interactions between the National Staff and International Institutes in some cities. These are in the Local Associations files on the microfilm.
There are a few publications about International Institutes, particularly the YW of the City of New York, in the Original Format Records in the Community Associations Historical Files.
At other repositories:
Ludmila K. Foxlee Papers, Liberty Island Archives, Ellis Island
Records of various YWCA International Institutes, Social Welfare History Archives, and the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota
SUBSERIES C. INTERRACIAL/RACIAL JUSTICE
NOTE: Up until 1970, the YWCA of the USA considered its work related to American Indians and African-Americans as fundamentally different from its work with other "minority" or "ethnic" groups. From its founding in 1906 up until the "One Imperative" Convention of 1970, the Mexican population in the southwest, Asian population on the west coast, and European immigrants in the northeast and Midwest were considered part of the Immigration-related work. Information about records related to YWCA work among those populations can be found in Immigration and Foreign Communities in Subseries B of this Series. The 1970 Convention and its associated Institutes, Workshops, and Consultations resulted in more broadly conceived "Racial Justice" work which eventually came to include all oppressed groups. Records related to this period of YWCA are described below under Part 3.
Early work with American Indian and "Colored" YWCA members was more-or-less completely segregated within the National Association. This approach was gradually replaced, at least as concerned African-Americans, by "interracial" work. As indicated above, the concept of the work changed with the 1970 Convention and its associated One Imperative Program to a "Racial Justice" approach. The records in this Subseries are arranged in three sections reflecting these shifting concepts. Part 1 is records of American Indian work, 1892-1945; Part 2 is records related to "Colored" and "Interracial" work up to 1970; and Part 3 is records of "Racial Justice" work, 1970-2002.
PART 1. AMERICAN INDIAN WORK, 1892-1945
American Indian women became involved in the YWCA movement through Student Associations affiliated with the predecessor organization, the American Committee. The first American Indian woman to join a YWCA group was probably Susan La Flesche, an Omaha who joined the Student Association at Philadelphia Woman's Medical College in the 1880s. The American Committee established Associations at several Indian schools in the 1890s, including Haworth Institute and Bacone College for Indians.
After its establishment in 1906, the YWCA of the U.S.A. continued the work through its Student Committee, hiring Edith Dabb, a white woman, as a Special Worker in Indian Schools in 1909. Two years later, the YWCA developed a plan to place religious work directors in the largest American Indian schools. Religious education, physical fitness, and health were early goals of work. As time went on, the program placed more emphasis on "self expression," "courage," opportunities for higher education, and leadership training.
In 1917 the YWCA hired its first professional American Indian worker, Lucy Hunter, a Winnebago, who worked for the Student Department in Oklahoma and Southwest. Several other Native Americans joined the staff, including Ella Deloria (Anpetu Wastewin), a Sioux who became the Health Education Secretary for Indian schools. The first summer camp for American Indian girls took place in Kansas in 1922; the next year, three more camps opened across the country.
From 1922-31, staff moved to the Department of Indian Work in the Field Division. In addition to coordinating programs for Native American women, they produced publications and other program materials about American Indians and their culture for use by other YWCA groups. In addition to the traditional educational work for Indian women, the Department coordinated services similar to those provided through the Department of Industrial Work, such as vocational training and housing for young women moving to cities and towns for work.
The 1931 National staff reorganization integrated the Department of Indian Work into the National Services Division. Work in the 1930s and 1940s continued to focus on providing education and leadership skills to Native American women. Concerns about education, health and economic opportunities for Native American women as well as the end of government wardship of Native American peoples became part of the public advocacy agenda and appeared in resolutions at National Conventions beginning in 1934.
The YWCA's general trend of eliminating specialist constituent group staff left only one Indian Work Secretary, Bertha Eckert, by 1940 when administration of the work was moved into the Community Division. When Eckert retired in 1943, the position was eliminated.
Lamenting the loss of yet another position, Community Division Executive Grace Stuff wrote in her Division report for 1940-45:
". . . we have so weakened our resources in this field that we have to recognize that we are not sustaining any useful advisory service to this part of the constituency. This is again the sample of the 'stretch out' system which we have employed over the last five years. It is lacking in realism and honesty to assume that basic staff can absorb work cut, and increase services to a variety of newly agreed upon special projects and at one and the same time sustain a volume of work which has been on the increase since 1940 from community Association needs. The National Board cannot claim work with an interracial constituency in the United States and not have within its membership young Indian women. Therefore it faces the dilemma of admitting that it ceases to be a truly interracial membership in this country or increasing services to the extent of actual increase in staff to carry defined responsibilities."
While American Indian women continued as members of the Association, beyond Public Advocacy, there don't appear to have been any national efforts on their behalf until the mid-1960s when the Student YMCA and YWCA collaborated on a summer project on the Rosebud Indian Reservation.
With adoption of the One Imperative at Convention in 1970 and the ensuing programs, American Indian members and their issues and concerns returned to the consciousness of the National Association, as part of its more broadly defined Racial Justice efforts. Associated activities were coordinated through the Center/Office for Racial Justice. [See Racial Justice below]
Scope and Content-Part 1. American Indian Work, 1892-1945
The records of the American Indian work consist of general historical files; a small amount of correspondence and memoranda; miscellaneous items from YWCAs in Indian Schools; program materials; publications; reference materials; and reports. Most are dated between 1916 and 1943. Subjects reflected in the records related to YWCA work with American Indians include health, education, religion, and problems of government wardship. Educational materials created for use by the general Association membership, particularly the teenage program, deal with Indian culture and arts.
After the 1970 Convention the National Association consolidated its work with various ethnic groups into a Racial Justice agenda. Materials from that era can be found with in the Racial Justice section of this series.
Microfilmed Records, 1892-1947 only
Original Format Records, 1892-1945
The original format materials consist primarily of the records from the YWCA Central File that were microfilmed under "Interracial, Indian Work." It is a modest amount of material including general historical information; program materials and publications for and about American Indians; reports; and reference materials dating from 1892 to 1949. The few items not included in the Microfilmed Records are historical research by YWCA staff from the 1980s and some publications, particularly the hard-cover books.
Elsewhere in this Series
Subseries D. Teenage and Younger Girls Program contains publications, articles in the Bookshelf, and other program materials about American Indian girls and their culture.
In other Series in this Record Group
SERIES I. DEPARTMENT, STAFF, AND COMMITTEES includes related material as part of Program Planning Study, 1940-41.
SERIES III. PUBLIC ADVOCACY Materials relating to the work of the YWCA on behalf of, and with, American Indians regarding their social, economic, and political rights from the 1930s on.
SERIES V. PROGRAM SUBJECTS in Subseries C. Music and Subseries D. Pageantry and Drama are a number of scripts and publications related to American Indians and their culture.
SERIES VI. PUBLICATIONS The main YWCA serial Association Monthly/Womans Press/YWCA Magazine has regular articles on American Indians in general and on their role in the YWCA.
In other Record Groups
RECORD GROUP 2. PREDECESSOR ORGANIZATIONS AND NATIONAL BOARD Information about early work at Indian Schools can be found in the Records of the American Committee.
RECORD GROUP 3. NATIONAL ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE contains some historical statistical research in LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES and DATA AND STATISTICS.
RECORD GROUP 4. NATIONAL CONVENTIONS AND CONFERENCES discussion of Public Advocacy resolutions and Convention Actions
RECORD GROUP 7. STUDENT WORK Most of the earlier work with American Indians was in Indian Schools under the auspices of the Student Staff. See especially the Minutes and Secretary's reports.
PART 2. "COLORED," AND "INTERRACIAL," WORK, 1906-70
NOTE: For a detailed study of race relations in the YWCA up to 1946 see: Christian Sisterhood, Race Relations, and the YWCA, 1906-46 by Nancy Marie Robertson, University of Illinois Press, 2007.
Race relations represented the toughest challenge to the YWCA's identity as a membership-directed association of women. The Association's struggles over the course of the twentieth century to achieve meaningful diversity point up the tremendous difficulties faced by any national organization trying to reach consensus in a country with such a large and varied populace. The National Association approached the work in characteristically deliberative fashion, slowly and carefully studying the issues, developing recommendations, tools, and techniques it hoped would persuade its membership and the public at large that it was the duty of citizens in a democracy and of Christians to work for fundamental justice for all people.
African-American women participated in a small way in the efforts of the YWCA of the U.S.A.'s two predecessor organizations. The International Board focused its efforts primarily in urban centers of the north at a time when the vast majority of the African-American population in the U.S. lived in rural areas in the south. Its roster included a small number of "Colored" YWCAs, the earliest being established in Philadelphia in 1870, but they were not generally financially stable, long-lived Associations. The American Committee included among its membership a few YWCAs in Black schools and colleges, the earliest was founded at Spelman College in 1884. In 1906 when the two predecessor organizations agreed to merge, there were four "Colored" Community Associations and fourteen Student Associations.
The new National Association had an intense desire to put the divisiveness of the past behind it and establish an effective, unified, country-wide organization. As was the case when considering work with other constituent groups, committees and staff took time to make a thorough study of the "field" and whether or how the YWCA might contribute. In the case of the "colored" work, the added complications inherent in addressing race issues--including the possibility of interracial activities, conferences, and Conventions--made the Association especially cautious about embarking on the effort.
In June 1907 members of the National Board met with "Southern" (a.k.a. white) women attending the Asheville Summer Conference to discuss "the Colored Question." A report of the meeting in the National Board minutes for October 2, 1907, makes clear that the National Association left it to the southern women to decide how the Association should proceed in regards to "the Colored Question." The women thanked the Board for this "courtesy" and recommended that all of the American Committee's existing "negro student associations" (which were segregated) should be received into the National Association and that "the matter of work in city negro associations be deferred for a year in the southern states." Further, they recommended that the National Board be asked to "confine the representation at the Southern Conference in future always to white delegates." The recommendations were "cordially accepted" by a National Board eager to achieve unity.
The Student Committee hired Addie Waites Hunton (the first African-American hired by the National Association) to spend three months in the fall and winter of 1907-08 visiting "colored student Associations formerly affiliated with the American Committee and others that have requested affiliation to strengthen them in their work and see whether they are prepared for affiliation."
After Hunton's study, the Student Committee "called" Elizabeth Ross [later Haynes] as a Special Worker for Colored Students. In addition to Student Associations, Ross visited the few "Colored" City Associations (in Philadelphia, Baltimore, D.C., and New York City) and reported to the Student Committee that the Associations had a "very vague idea of the object of the work" and the City Associations had a "general feeling of doubt towards the National Association" as to its sincerity of interest in their work. She called for increased training, more "sectional" conferences, and advocated for a general secretary in the city field.
Elizabeth Ross and Addie Waites Hunton both continued to study the "city problems" on a part-time basis. Ross, did this in addition to her work with the Student Associations, and Hunton, as a Special Worker. The National Association regularly received requests from cities eager to organize a new "colored" association. The working assumption of all was that city Associations would be segregated and many of the "Colored" Associations were initially affiliated directly with the National Association "until such time as it is possible to effect a branch relationship with the local Association" (City Committee Minutes, December 1910).
As a general rule, the National Association was wary of encouraging the formation of new Associations of any kind unless there was adequate community and financial support to sustain them. Eager for the new "Colored" Associations to succeed, Hunton prepared a list of suggestions related to the colored work in cities which echoed similar reports by "extension" secretaries all over the country and in the foreign field. There must be careful planning to insure a well-prepared Board of Directors and sufficient financial support, plus trained secretaries. She argued that any city lacking these essentials should be held off.
As the number of Colored City Associations grew, many of them administered from the National Office, the need for a full-time secretary for Colored Work in Cities became more acute, and finally the National Association hired Eva Bowles in 1913.
A "new light" (Louise Holmquist, Report to Department of Method, 30 September 1914) was brought to the work of the YWCA as a whole as a result of the May 1914 Negro Student Convention called by John R. Mott. Mott's intention was to "call to definite Christian service the leading colored men and women of the United States" (Addie W. Hunton, Report to Department of Method, 25 March 1914). The Convention brought together Black students and educators with "a few sympathetic white friends" mainly from the YMCA, YWCA, and other Christian associations. Up to that point, the social gospel promoted by the Federal Council of Churches had been defined primarily in terms of capital versus labor and efforts to bring justice to the working class. Convention speakers linked the social gospel to race issues and argued that it was the duty of Christian organizations to help bring justice to African-Americans. In her quarterly report to the Student Committee of September 1914, Colored Student Secretary Josephine Pinyon expressed her response to the Convention this way: "Now there is something that will make people realize that the colored work is . . . an integral and by no means negligible part of the responsibility assumed when the National Board was organized."
This conference was followed in 1915 by the YWCA's first national Conference on Colored Work in Louisville, Kentucky. Here, the Association codified its "branch policy." The policy sought to unite all YWCA programs in a city under a single administrative unit, known as the Central Branch. Other centers, including "Colored" Associations, "Oriental" Associations, International Institutes, cafeterias, boarding homes, and neighborhood "geographic" Associations would be under administrative control of the Central Branch and share finances.
Those in the National Association looking for progress in interracial cooperation hoped that this strategy would foster cooperative relationships and committees, and provide more reliable financing of the work. In reality, leadership positions in central Associations were overwhelmingly held by white women who often were not particularly interested in sharing power or changing the status quo in race relations.
When the U.S. joined World War I, the YWCA became a member of the United War Work Campaign, an organization formed to raise and distribute funds to aid war relief efforts at home and abroad. The YWCA raised money, recruited war workers, and established Industrial War Service Centers and Hostess Houses. The Centers provided rest and recreation for women workers in industry. The Hostess Houses were places where servicemen could relax and visit with female friends and relations in a wholesome environment. Due to the perceived inappropriateness of white women providing recreational services for Black servicemen, the YWCA established separate "colored" Industrial Service Centers and Hostess Houses and facilitated an associated expansion of "Colored" City branches. The work, which represented a dramatic expansion of staff and program for African-Americans, was directed from the national office by Eva Bowles. A national staff which had consisted of two Black secretaries in 1917, grew to 13 in 1919. At the local level, the number of "Colored" Branches increased from 16 to 49 and secretaries from 9 to 99.
African-American staff and members believed the resounding success of the wartime and extended "continuation" programs had proved them capable and deserving of leadership in the Association. An infrastructure of Branches now existed, but official YWCA policy still placed them under the direction of white-dominated central City Associations.
The YW was under attack for its public advocacy for peace and disarmament and for its stands on labor laws, particularly workers' right to collective bargaining. These attacks had a very direct effect on YWCA finances during the hard economic times of the 1920s-30s. Rather than opening itself to a whole new area for criticism, the already hesitant Association returned to its pre-war policy of deference to southern white women and did not push for change.
Once the administration of "Colored" Branches became the responsibility of Community Associations, national staff members shifted their focus from direct service to Associations to "interracial education," efforts mainly directed at the YWCA's white members and the public at large. Eva Bowles and others in the National Association hoped that these increased efforts, along with exposure through personal contact at interracial meetings, would gradually convince the white membership to make race relations a primary concern of the Association. The staff produced a wide array of program materials including skits, articles, newsletters, study outlines, and books to inform about the issues and offer effective techniques for group interracial work.
But real progress was slow. It was not until 1922 that it became policy for National Convention to provide interracial accommodations so that Black delegates could attend. At a time when other constituent groups were establishing Assemblies and Councils to determine program and policy for their membership, the National Board recommended creation of a Council on Colored Work in 1922. This Council did not function in the same way as the Student, Industrial, and Business and Professional Councils which were responsible for oversight of a Program determined by self-governing membership groups. Its members, both white and Black, were selected by the National Board, and it functioned more like a traditional "top-down" National Board Committee.
By the 1930s some white women in the YWCA came to understand that some of the problems African-Americans faced, such as lynching and other forms of racial violence, would not be solved through education alone. The death of a much-loved and highly respected former national staff member, Juliette Derricotte, in 1931 as a result of receiving sub-standard medical care after a car accident in segregated Georgia, increased the sense of urgency about refocusing the Association's efforts to address race problems.
As the National Association moved into more active "interracial" (as opposed to separate "Colored") work, civil rights issues were added to the Public Affairs Program. The Program for 1932-34 included "Study and support of measures for enlarged economic opportunities for the Negro race" and "Local YWCA efforts to foster right public opinion which shall be effective in dealing with the menace of lynching and mob violence in every form." "Convention Bulletin Number V-Looking Toward a National Public Affairs Program for 1934-36" includes a section called "Our Responsibility in Regard to Special Problems of Minority Groups." Describing the relations of white and Black people in America as "crucial for the future welfare of both races and for the progress of our democratic institutions," it reads in part, "[p]roposals for different standards . . . which will place Negroes on a lower or segregated status should be opposed." Interracial cooperation, and equal treatment and opportunities for all people continued as major Public Affairs themes for the rest of the century.
The staff reorganization and reduction of 1931-32 eliminated many of the specialist staff positions and moved some from direct advisory service to Community Associations into an educational role. It also eliminated the Council of Colored Work. With this reorganization came the beginnings of a shift in terminology from "Colored" Work to "Interracial" Work. Eva Bowles, moved from the Field Division to the Laboratory Division, initially praised the new staff allocation as "a real achievement in interracial set-up," but Bowles' niece later wrote that her aunt felt the reorganization would diminish "participation of Negroes in the policy making" of the Association ("Eva Bowles" by Clarice Winn Davis in the Dictionary of American Negro Biography). Bowles resigned in the spring of 1932.
As the YWCA of the USA moved out of its initial period of expansion, it felt the need of a device for measuring the quality of its Associations' programs. The Standards Study (1935-39) defined a set of "principles by which Associations may be recognized as members of the National Association in good standing or sub-standard." Part Two of the Study, "The Branch Study," presented at Convention in 1938, looked at the "particularly difficult administrative and structural problem" of the metropolitan Association with one or more branches. Some city Associations had developed policies which excluded members of "Negro" branches from "electoral membership" in the Central Association, claiming that status as "branch electors," with a say only in branch activities, qualified as "electoral membership," a basic element of membership in the National Association.
Pointing up the inherent injustice of such policies, the Branch Study presented the issue in stark terms: "If a local Association should write into its constitution that electorship was open only to 'white' women and girls, that Association would automatically be disaffiliated from the national organization." Noting that "the growing self-consciousness of the racial branches has made this problem more apparent," the Branch Study went on to state in unequivocal terms that the practice by some Associations, of excluding Black members from electoral membership in the Association "violates the Constitutional integrity of the Associations concerned."
The 1940 Convention authorized a Commission to Study Interracial Practices in Community YWCAs, which recommended "that the implications of the YWCA Purpose be recognized as involving the inclusion of Negro women and girls in the main stream of Association life, and that such inclusion be adopted as a conscious goal." The Commission's final report, Interracial Practices in Community YWCAs, was issued in 1944 with a set of recommendations. After two years of follow up, the 1946 National Convention adopted the Interracial Charter, which not only pledged to work towards an interracial experience within the YW, but also to fight against injustice on the basis of race, "whether in the community, the nation or the world."
Despite this declaration of intent, progress, particularly at the local level, was not especially brisk. At the Convention following the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision in 1954, the National Association returned to the issue of the racial segregation in the Association. Various Committees, Advisory Groups, and Work Groups reviewed the Association's progress. The Interdepartmental Committee to Coordinate Work on Racial Integration (1957-58), a special committee preparing material for the 1958 Convention Workbook, recommended formation of the Committee on Racial Inclusiveness to assure that Convention actions on Racial Inclusiveness were interpreted and carried out in every part of Association life.
With the increasing momentum of the Civil Rights movement, the YWCA's public advocacy activities increased. The National Student Council was particularly active in sit-ins and protests.
At its meeting in June of 1963 the National Board allocated funds to launch a country-wide Action Program for Integration and Desegregation of Community YWCAs. Dorothy Height took leave from her position as Associate Director for Training to head the program. With passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 "the practices implied in our Interracial Charter" became law.
At the end of the two-year Action Program in 1965, the National Board adopted a proposal to accelerate the work "in going beyond token integration and making a bold assault on all aspects of racial segregation." It set aside $200,000 to support the effort, establishing the Office of Racial Integration (re-named Office of Racial Justice in 1969) as part of the Executive Office. In her role as its first Director, Dorothy Height helped to monitor the Association's progress toward full integration, kept abreast of the civil rights movement, facilitated "honest dialogue," aided in making best use of African-American leadership (both volunteer and staff), and helped in their recruitment and retention.
Nearly thirty years after the Branch Study Report of 1938 had brought the constitutional implications of segregated Association practices to the attention of the National Association, some Associations continued to resist meaningful integration. Hoping that persuasion and education would ultimately prevail, the National Association also moved in 1967 to amend the YWCA Constitution so as to make full integration of Community Associations a condition for continued affiliation with the National Association. The Office of Racial Justice sponsored the Dialogue Program in 1967-68 in which Community and Student YWCAs held dialogue group workshops. In the following year Racial Justice Institutes were led by National Board members and staff all over the country to bring greater awareness to local YWCAs of race relations in the United States and to provide resources to encourage black economic and community development.
Scope and Content-Part 2. "Colored," and "Interracial," Work, 1906-70
Records related to "Colored" and "Interracial" work consist of general historical materials; committee minutes; files on related activities in various YWCA departments; files on policies and practices of Community Associations; records of YWCA and National Conferences, Consultations and Workshops; records of relations with a few related organizations; programs and projects files; publications; reference files; reports; studies; and training materials.
The records in this section largely consist of materials gathered together under "Interracial" in the National Association's central Subject File and focus almost entirely on relationships between Black and white women. These items were compiled from various department and committee records to provide YWCA staff with useful information about the subject. While they provide a serviceable introduction to the work, there is much material elsewhere in the records, particularly in the various departments in which the "colored" secretaries served. In fact, the central nature of this difficult struggle in YWCA history means that there is almost no portion of the records where the topic is entirely absent.
Included are selected reports, memoranda, and other general materials about "Colored" and "Interracial" work in various YWCA departments. The Public Affairs files are especially extensive. Administrative responsibility for racial justice activities was more centralized after establishment of the Office of Racial Integration in 1965, and especially after the One Imperative Convention in 1970. [see "Racial Justice" work below]
Over the years YWCA staff compiled information for its central Subject Files on African-American staff members, actions taken at Convention involving the constituency and racial justice issues, and YWCA policies and statements about the work and about YWCA-owned properties. There is also extensive historical research on the "Colored" Work in the YWCA, 1907-20 by Jane Olcott Waters.
Self-studies, dated between 1919 and 1959 and primarily about "racial inclusiveness" policies in Community Associations, indicate both the YWCA's dogged efforts to achieve meaningful integration within the Association, and the slow pace of progress. The Studies perhaps demonstrate most clearly the difficulties of being a national membership-directed organization in a country with such widely divergent attitudes.
Publications include pamphlets, books, study outlines, program materials, and serials. There are publications about YWCA work with African-American women and about YWCA policies and practices; a history of the Work of Colored Women during World War I; and techniques for improving race relations, including program suggestions and educational materials.
The "Interracial" records also contain files on racist incidents involving YWCA staff and the National Association's response. These include correspondence and other materials about the death of Juliette Derricotte.
The Minutes and Reports filed here are of the Committees with primary responsibility for "Colored" work, interracial education, and racial justice policies, 1917-70. The Reports include some of the regular secretarial reports written by African-American staff members (others can be found in the records of their Department or Committee in other Record Groups), some miscellaneous reports, and three 1950s reports on racial inclusiveness and combating racism.
Conference files include reports, brochures, and local arrangements materials related to YWCA "Colored" and Branch Conferences, and other YWCA Conferences and workshops for training and interracial dialogue. There are also files on a few national non-YWCA conferences on race relations and civil rights.
The bulk of the Project files are related to the Action Program, Project Equality, and the Dialogue Program from the 1960s.
Microfilmed Records, 1906-70 only
The "Interracial" records and Minutes and Reports on the microfilm were not discarded after filming, so most of the microfilmed records can also be consulted in original format.
The Local Associations files include records of interactions between "Colored" Branches (often named Phyllis Wheatley Branch) and the National Association. They appear on the microfilm (along with other types of branches and International Institutes) following the general records for that Association. For example, under North Carolina, general records about the Charlotte Association appear on reel 199 at microdex 3. These are followed by "Charlotte-Phyllis Wheatley Branch.") These records were discarded after filming, so are only available on microfilm.
Records can be found on the microfilm under:
Original Format Records, 1907-2002, n.d., 18 linear feet
The records in this section are arranged in the following units
PART 3. "RACIAL JUSTICE" WORK, 1970-2001
Just prior to the 1970 Convention, 500 Black women came together for a National Conference of Black Women in the YWCA. Their report to the full YWCA membership at Convention said in part:
"We are solidly united in determination to close the gap between the YWCA ideals as stated in the purpose and YWCA practices. We will no longer tolerate false liberalism . . . Recognizing that the YWCA cannot be all things to all people, we demand that it put its full force behind one issue inherent in all of the imperatives stated in the 1970 Convention Work Book. That imperative is the elimination of racism wherever it exists and by any means necessary."
After intense discussion, the Convention delegates voted to adopt "The One Imperative."
Following Convention, the Office of Racial Justice sponsored a series of workshops, institutes, consultations, and meetings as part of the One Imperative Program. Various groups of YWCA women-Asian-American, Native-American, Puerto Rican, white, black, and others--attended consultations. In the course of this process, the YWCA's goal of "integration and desegregation" was recharacterized as a racial and social justice agenda. What had been defined by the Association as essentially a white and black issue, now encompassed all ethnic groups.
The One Imperative Program also included the Action Audit for Change, a process by which Community and Student Associations audited their progress on racial justice issues including policies and programs. The National Board went through a similar process in the later 1970s. As of the 1976 Convention, regular Action Audits were made part of the periodic comprehensive review of Associations that were required for continuing affiliation with the National Association.
In the 1990s Racial Justice staff worked to document and distribute successful racial justice and diversity initiatives; develop racial justice program resources and provide training; work with associations to develop strategies to eliminate institutional racism in education, law enforcement, housing, health care, and financial institutions at local, state and national level; and plan two public awareness events, the National Day of Commitment to Eliminate Racism, and the YWCA Week Without Violence. By adding "Human Rights," to the name of the office in 1997, the Association officially extended its work to fight oppression of all groups, not just those based upon race or ethnicity.
Scope and Content-Part 3. "Racial Justice" Work, 1970-2002
Records related to "Racial Justice" Work consist of general historical materials; committee records; Racial Justice Center and Office files; general and reference files on American Indian and Mexican-American women; information about racial justice programs at Community and Student Associations; Conference files; program files; information about a few public advocacy activities; publications; and training materials.
Though the records reflect the expanded Racial Justice agenda, which included all women of color and eventually all oppressed groups, but the bulk of the records deal with black and white relations.
As is the case elsewhere in the records, very few records have survived from between 1970 and 1988.
The records document the intense activity following the National Convention in 1970 and its associated institutes, consultations, meetings, and workshops, as well as the continuing One Imperative Program. Conference files include planning materials and reports from conferences and consultations with black, white, Native American, Asian-American, and Puerto Rican women in the YWCA. One Imperative Program files include records about the development of the Action Audit for Change self-study process for Community and Student YWCAs. The 1970s also saw a flurry of new Racial Justice publications.
Records from the 1990s and up to 2001 indicate a similar concentration of activity.
There are files on the Racial Justice [and Human Rights] Office's responses to renewed Ku Klux Klan activity and hate crimes against homosexuals in late 1990s as well records of the Racial Justice Convocation in 1990 to develop a Racial Justice agenda for the Twenty-first century and a follow-up Conference in 1999. There are also planning materials, correspondence, and other records related to the public awareness campaigns of the late 1990s, including the National Day of Commitment to Eliminate Racism and its associated Stop Racism Youth Challenge and Race Against Racism; as well as Statewide Days of Dialogue on Race Relations in 1998.
1990s records of training activities include the Mission Empowerment process, stressing the One Imperative, and the Racial Justice Training Manual, 1996.
Microfilmed Records, 1906-70 only
The records that were microfilmed date through 1970 only, so there is little on the microfilm related to the Racial Justice Work. What is there can be found in the Subject Files under Convention 1970 and Interracial.
Original Format Records, 1907-2002, n.d., 18 linear feet
The records in this section are arranged in the following units
Elsewhere in this Series
Race issues were so central to Association activities that there is related material in the conference records, publications, and program materials in the files of every constituent group.
Subseries A. Employed Women includes information about African-American women in Industry and "Household Employment."
Subseries B. Immigration and Foreign Communities Up until 1970, work on behalf of Asian-Americans, Mexican-Americans and other groups was considered part of the Immigration work.
Subseries D. Teen-Age and Younger Girls includes extensive records of segregated Teen conferences on microfilm.
Elsewhere in this Record Group
Microfilmed records of the National Association of Professional Workers in SERIES II. TRAINING AND PERSONNEL includes a study on the status of "Negro" workers in the YWCA, 1944-45.
SERIES III. PUBLIC ADVOCACY has extensive files on the YWCA's civil rights efforts.
SERIES V. PROGRAM SUBJECTS contains publications and scripts in the Music, and Pageantry and Drama subseries reflecting the National staff's experimentation with many different techniques for presenting concepts.
The YWCA's main serial the Association Monthly/Womans Press/YWCA Magazine in SERIES VI. PUBLICATIONS contains many articles related to race issues.
SERIES VII. WAR WORK AND DEFENSE SERVICES has records related to the greatly expanded "Colored" Work during World War I, and the Japanese Evacuee Project during World War II.
In other Record Groups
Materials relating to race relations and racial justice can be found throughout the records, especially in the following:
RECORD GROUP 3. NATIONAL ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE, SERIES I. GENERAL ADMINISTRATION under Racial Justice has correspondence related to Civil Rights activities dating from the late-1950s through the mid-1960s.
RECORD GROUP 4. NATIONAL CONVENTIONS AND CONFERENCES has records of resolutions and actions, plus reports of major studies presented to the membership at Convention. Proceedings often include extensive transcriptions of discussions and debate at Convention.
RECORD GROUP 7. STUDENT WORK Since the first African-American national staff members were employees in the Student Department, the earliest records about the work can be found in this Record Group. Through the years, the Students often advocated the more radical positions in the Association. They were active in the Civil Rights Movement and in other racial justice activities and participated in a number of "human relations" summer projects in the 1960s.
RECORD GROUP 8. COMMUNITY ASSOCIATIONS Local Associations files on the Microfilm contain some records of interactions with various kinds of Branches including "Colored" or "Negro" and Japanese Branches. There are also community studies on interracial relations and studies and reports on work with Mexican women. Original format Community Associations files contain some Action Reports completed as part of the accreditation process.
RECORD GROUP 10. AUDIOVISUAL MATERIALS contains footage of 1990s Convocations, conferences, and meetings, as well as a variety of educational video presentations about racial justice issues.
Elsewhere in the Sophia Smith Collection:
See also the personal papers of Dorothy Spellman, R. Elizabeth Johns, Norma Stauffer, and Dorothy Height; and the Southern Women, the Student YWCA, and Race (1920-1944) Collection.
SUBSERIES D. TEEN-AGE AND YOUNGER GIRLS
YWCA work with young girls began in the U.S. as early as 1881 with the founding of the Little Girls' Christian Association of Oakland, California. Girls' YWCA Clubs were formed in City Associations, in private high schools under the auspices of the Student Department (which had responsibility for the "older younger girl"), in churches, and, in parts of the country where there was no nearby YWCA, they were sometimes established in public high schools.
At the time of the founding of the National Association in 1906-07 there were so many younger girls taking part in the movement that the first national conference of YWCA employed officers in 1909 took as its general topic "The Young Girl." Across the country and without much supervision, the girls had proved themselves "on hand and not under foot" (Elizabeth Wilson Fifty Years of Association Work Among Young Women) to such a degree that the National Association took note and began to coordinate the work.
The National Association added a Special Worker for Junior Work to the City Department in the Department of Method in 1911. After studying the situation, she concluded that the Association would only "obtain satisfactory results" by placing the junior work "on a par with all other departmental work being done in local Associations," noting that this would never be accomplished "so long as the junior work is regarded as an appendage to be tolerated, rather than as a legitimate piece of Association work."
Many Community Associations proceeded to establish a "Junior Department" to oversee Clubs and activities for members between the ages of ten and sixteen. They were encouraged to hire trained Secretaries dedicated to the work. "It began to be recognized by all that, if the Association movement was really to help girls to help themselves to become women citizens of intelligence and power, there must be secretaries in the movement who understood educational methods of work with girls of this age." ("History of the Growth of Work with Younger Girls in the YWCA," by Gertrude Gogin, The Workshop Series no. 1, circa 1927)
The new Girls Work Secretaries, began experimenting with the "fundamentals of character-building work with girls." A plethora of names and schemes emerged for these groups, among them "Rainbow Clubs" for very young girls, "Be Square Clubs" for young working girls, and for the rest, "Girl Aides," "Silver Link Girls," "Four Square Girls," and "Triangle Girls." Concurrently, the National Association encouraged a new approach to Association work in general, seeking to adapt the organization to the girl rather than adapting the girl to the organization. The "most important principle beginning persistently to emerge was that a girl's real growth is dependent upon her learning for herself through experience." ("History of the Growth of Work with Younger Girls in the YWCA," by Gertrude Gogin, The Workshop Series no. 1, circa 1927) In order to be effective it could not be work "for" girls, but work "with" girls.
At Convention in 1913, the membership voted, at the request of the girls, to abandon the term "Junior Department" in favor of their preferred "Girls' Department" and in 1915 the age range for membership in Girls' programs was changed to twelve to eighteen years. The Eight Week Club scheme, inaugurated in the summer of 1913, paired college students home for the summer with younger girls to form clubs of "friendship and service" during the school vacation. The plan gave the college women a chance to practice their leadership skills and introduce a new generation to the work of the Association.
World War I brought about a desire in the general population to organize for community service. According to the new National Girls Work Secretary, Gertrude Gogin, this general desire came to include "the understanding that one of the most vital factors in community life was the girl in her teens." Gogin, began her work late in 1917 with six months' study of existing programs. She concluded that "the only way to have constructive work with younger girls was to have a national program which would bring about unity and standards to our work." " . . . [W]e have had any one of 57 varieties according to the taste and ability of our local Associations. This has meant no really constructive help from headquarters to fields nor from fields to locals. There was no means for transmitting ideas for everyone was doing something different." (Gertrude Gogin, Annual Report to the Department of Method, 1918)
To remedy this situation, the National Association established the Girl Reserve program, which was "born" in September of 1918. The National Association distributed written materials outlining "specific and different programs" for grade school girls, high school girls, and young employed girls (girls at work under age eighteen). At the same time Girls' Work Secretaries were added to nine of the Field staffs. Girl Reserve staff worked in close cooperation with the Student Department on the high school program and the Industrial Department on the program for young employed girls. Designed to give a sense of unity but not uniformity to the work, the program included special Girl Reserve songs, ceremonials, conferences, training programs, and a uniform.
In a statement written about 1923 at the request of the YMCA, Gertrude Gogin outlined the program and explained, "The name, 'Girl Reserve' is not a military term. A Girl Reserve is a girl who is constantly storing up, putting in reserve, more of those qualities which will help her to take her place as a Christian citizen in her home, her school, her church, and her community."
The earliest forms of organization for the youngest members were "Triangle Clubs," small groups of fifteen to twenty seventh and eighth graders. Senior high-school student clubs were self-governing with a slate of officers and standing committees. Young employed girls belonged to "YGBI" (Younger Girls in Business and Industry) Clubs, a program that placed a greater emphasis on recreation.
The rapidly increasing contingent of Girl Reserve Secretaries formed their own section of the National Association of Employed Officers at their 1922 meeting.
By 1927 Gogin described the work as "not a pattern program of work for girls, but . . . instead an evolving educational process of work with girls." It was a "movement" based on modern scientific educational methods, attempting "to help girls better to understand how to make right choices." ("History of the Growth of Work with Younger Girls in the YWCA," by Gertrude Gogin, The Workshop Series no. 1, circa 1927)
Publications were one of the primary contributions of the National Association to the movement. In addition to a lively and informative serial publication, known as The Bookshelf, the Womans Press cranked out a wide array of books, manuals, pamphlets, work tools, skits, etc., for the girls themselves, for their parents, and for their club leaders. Designed with the younger audience in mind, they deal with classic YWCA topics such as citizenship, religion, health, and interracial and international relations. The National Staff also made a sort of specialty of female adolescent development, writing books, articles, and pamphlets for use by the Association and the general public.
Many girls had their first YWCA exposure at summer camps run by Community Associations. By the late 1920s, the Girl Reserve Program included Regional Conferences for those who went on to deeper involvement with the Girl Reserve. GR Conferences, like those for other groups, combined recreational and educational activities. They offered experience in leadership, democracy in action, and community-building. All of the standard YWCA subjects were presented using techniques designed to be age-appropriate.
After World War II, the Association noted less interest among the girls in "long-continued club projects of a more serious nature," and increased desire for more informal recreational activities, particularly "good-times in the evening" in a co-educational (but chaperoned) setting. Ever younger members were requesting co-educational parties and the "help on boy-girl relationships." Program focused on "problems of social concern," career/work decisions, community service projects, the arts, and religion. ("New Times Bring New Ways of Work in the YWCA" by Elise Moller, Religious Education, March-April 1943)
As the program adjusted to the post-war world, it changed name to "Y-Teen" in 1946 "recognizing that youth is not merely in reserve to adulthood, but is a unique and important time of development." ("Youth Development in the YWCA: Goals and Issues," 1994) In 1947 the Y-Teens held their first joint high school conference with the YMCA. As with the college students, there was much interest among the girls in cooperative work with the YMCA in the 1940s and 1950s. In 1948, the National Association initiated "Teen Roll Call" (later known as "Y-Teen Week"), a campaign to build national and community support for the teen program. Y-Teens were invited to attend Convention as visiting delegates for the first time in 1949. The events included the first Teen Assembly.
It was not until 1956 that this younger constituency had its first National Conference. The emphasis for this and two later national conferences in 1959 and 1965 was youth's role in national and world affairs.
After World War II, the National Association eliminated or drastically cut back on Program for most constituent groups. By the 1960s, national programs were most likely to be short-term, funded through U.S. government or foundation grants, and run at a few Community Associations on a more-or-less "demonstration" basis as a means of devising program models that could be replicated by other organizations. They tended to be "problem-focused" and designed to serve youth in high risk environments. These programs included the Summer Youth Demonstration Project (1967), the National Youthworker Education Project (1970s), the Juvenile Justice Program (circa 1978-81); the Youth Employability Project (1980-83), the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (1980s), and Women as Preventors-An Adult-Teen Partnership dealing with issues related to alcohol abuse (1980s).
In response to student unrest and the youth movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s, a National Staff reorganization of the early 1970s briefly linked responsibility for teens, college students, and younger YWCA members in a Youth Constituencies Unit. In 1973 Convention voted to authorize a National Teen Organization to bring teens more directly into the National Association's decision-making process and the Convention voting age was lowered from seventeen to fifteen. It was an acknowledgment by the whole Association that its long term health depended on the involvement of its younger members.
One product of this era was the Teen Counseling Project of 1973-74. Though carried out in a different manner, the Project was essentially one more example of the traditional YWCA approach to its work, a study to determine the needs of the group. The National Teen Organization planned the project in cooperation with the YWCA Resource Center on Women and the Bank Street College of Education. Teens in four diverse communities (El Paso, Texas; Greenville, South Carolina; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and South Bend, Indiana) helped to design a questionnaire to collect information from teen women of widely diverse backgrounds. With the data collected, the Project gathered follow-up information by holding a workshop in each city for teens who had completed the questionnaires. Each workshop was planned and run by teens with help from two adult consultants.
Among the top priorities detailed in the Project's final report, "Attention is Needed Action is Called For: Teen Women Talk About Their Needs," were help in finding jobs and job training, sex education (particularly birth control information), more and better recreational opportunities, and drug information and rehabilitation programs.
In the late 1980s, the National Association obtained funding for production of three videos to present information about sexuality and pregnancy prevention to teens. "It's Okay to Say No Way!" (1986) is a music video "to convey a message in their medium, using their language." "Lovesick" and "Crush" (1989) were designed to encourage discussion and feature eleven to sixteen year olds talking about love, life, honesty, and friendship.
Another of the YWCA's periodic Studies to assess needs, the Youth Development Planning Project (1992-94), sought to change the emphasis of YWCA programs for teens in light of research that showed that problem-focused youth programming had only limited success. The "new" approach, "positive youth development," brought back some traditional YWCA girls work themes. Though the terms used to describe the program were of the 1990s, its aims hearkened back to the concept of the Girl Reserve as "a girl who is constantly storing up, putting in reserve, more of those qualities which will help her to take her place as a Christian citizen in her home, her school, her church, and her community."
The outcome of the study was the Youth Development Program, introduced in 1994. It sought to replace quick fixes for young people in crisis with long-term programming aimed at helping ten- to eighteen-year-olds develop to their full potential. While Community Associations continued their prevention and remediation programs for youth in high risk environments, the new approach emphasized "positive youth development" with core program themes of Empowerment, Health Promotion and Sports, Community and Leadership, and Family Life. National initiatives under this program included TechGYRLS, NetPrepGYRLS, the Mott Pregnancy Prevention Evaluation, YWCA/PepsiCo Girls Leadership Program, and a variety of sports and fitness programs for girls.
Scope and Content
Records in this Subseries include general and historical files; department and committee records; conference records; program and project files; publications; reference materials; reports, studies, and a few scrapbooks and records from Community Association camps and clubs.
Because work with teenagers was seen as the future of the organization, all of the standard YWCA topics appear in the teen materials. Records related to "Girls Work" appear to have been gathered together and maintained as a category beginning with the staff reorganization after World War I. These records contain isolated earlier items, but researchers should also consult minutes of the Student Department (in RECORD GROUP 7), the Research and Method Department (in SERIES I of this Record Group), and reports by Junior Work and Girls' Work Field Secretaries in the City, Town, and Rural Communities Departments (in RECORD GROUP 8.)
The extensive Conference materials (primarily on the microfilm) can include: planning materials such as, local arrangements, mailings, study materials; items for use during the conference such as programs, schedules, handouts, training materials, daily meditations, skit scripts, song sheets, and bulletins with drawings and other art work, poetry and fiction by conference participants; summary materials such as reports, participants lists, financial, training materials, and evaluations. The records contain files on separate segregated conferences in the Southern Region up to 1946.
Programs and Projects files are mainly from the 1970s-90s and include projects related to employment, pregnancy prevention and sexuality education, empowerment and "development."
The extensive teen publications include handbooks and yearbooks for Girl Reserves and Y-Teens; program materials; educational materials on "citizenship," health, sex education, interpersonal relations, interracial relations, leadership, and World Fellowship; and manuals and training materials for staff and volunteers working with teens. The main teenage serial, The Bookshelf, is especially comprehensive, with articles written by a wide variety of National staff members. Subjects covered include nature study, interracial relations, child labor, employment/industrial issues, games, arts and crafts, sex education, health, nutrition, recreation, citizenship, psychology, vocations, and environmental conservation.
Secretaries' reports provide wonderful documentation of the expansion of the teen work in the 1920s and early 1930s. Studies include the main 1920s-40s YWCA studies of the teen field and an extensive 1998-99 survey of adolescent programs offered by Community YWCAs.
Microfilmed Records, 1906-70 only
For the years covered by the microfilm, the teen materials are much more extensive on microfilm than what has survived in original format, the major exception being publications. The Conference files are especially rich, and there are good materials about teen projects during World War II. Teen records can be found on the microfilm under:
Original Format Records, 1907-2001, 15 linear feet
The Minutes and Reports were not discarded after filming and constitute the main overlap with the microfilmed materials. The original format materials contain a larger selection of publications, including the wonderful teen serial, The Bookshelf. Programs and Projects from the late 1960s into the 1990s are fairly well documented.
The Original Format Records are arranged as follows:
In other Subseries in this Series:
Additional materials about the Younger Girls in Business and Industry Clubs can be found in Subseries A. Employed Women.
One of the Studies in Subseries B. Immigration and Foreign Communities is on the American-born daughters of immigrants.
In other series in this Record Group:
Some of the earliest discussions of the teen work are in the Minutes of the Department of Research and Method in SERIES I. DEPARTMENT, STAFF, AND COMMITTEES. The reports include early reports of junior and girls work secretaries.
SERIES V. PROGRAM SUBJECTS has records related to teen work in Subseries A. Camping and Outdoor Recreation, Subseries C. Music (including Girl Reserve songs and songbooks and the 1965 Y-Teen Folksong Project), and Subseries B. Health (Sports and Fitness Programs for girls, 1990s).
The YWCA's main serial, the Association Monthly/Womans Press/YWCA Magazine in SERIES VI. PUBLICATIONS contains many articles related to teen-agers in the YWCA.
In other Record Groups:
Because it was the "representative and executive" committee of the National Association, the National Board's minutes in RECORD GROUP 2. PREDECESSOR ORGANIZATIONS AND NATIONAL BOARD contain many discussions of girls and teen work.
RECORD GROUP 4. CONVENTIONS AND CONFERENCES has information about National Teen Assembly and teen participation in Convention.
Work with high school students was initially the province of the Student Department in RECORD GROUP 7. STUDENT WORK. There are also records about Eight Week Clubs.
Visitation reports of secretaries are in SERIES I. SERVICES TO COMMUNITY ASSOCIATIONS of RECORD GROUP 8. COMMUNITY ASSOCIATIONS. The microfilmed records in SERIES IV. COMMUNITY ASSOCIATIONS FILES contain local studies of Teen Programs and needs.
RECORD GROUP 9. PHOTOGRAPHS contains many photographs of teen age program.
RECORD GROUP 10. AUDIOVISUAL MATERIALS includes the Youth Development Program videos "It's Okay to Say No Way!," "Lovesick," and "Crush." There are also audio and videotapes of some Teen Assemblies and Conferences from the late 1970s to the 1990s.
In personal papers:
The Elizabeth Steel Genne Papers contain additional information about the Teen Sexuality Education Project
SUBSERIES E. YOUNG ADULTS
The Young Adult constituency was a product of the post World War II era. It encompassed all members between the ages of 18 and 35, whether or not they were in school or college, or employed outside of the home. The National Association had found that membership in its remaining constituent groups (the Councils for employed women, college students, and teenagers) had declined while the number of new "YW-Wives" groups for young homemakers was growing. Unable financially to support specialized staff for all of these groups, the National Association combined them. Young Adult staff were in Leadership Services, Membership Services, and the Community Division. They were given responsibility to facilitate the activities of the Councils, Assemblies, and YW-wives groups; to act as a resource; and to produce training and written materials.
The largest groups within the new Young Adult constituency were the College Students and Teenagers. These two groups each had unique needs: while most constituent groups within the YWCA were members of Community Associations, the College Students were responsible for administering their own Associations, and effective work with teenagers required specific training. The National Association maintained staff dedicated to these two groups, and their official association with the Young Adult constituency was relatively short-lived.
Groups for "Home Women" started forming in Community YWCAs soon after World War II to provide companionship, adult education, recreation, and a "day out." They were recognized nationally as YW-Wives at the Convention in 1949. As declining participation in the Employed Women's Councils threatened their continued existence, the Employed Women and YW-Wives agreed at Convention in 1955 to try working together for the next triennium. The Young Adult Assembly emerged as "a new opportunity for all young adults to have a national voice." The group encompassed employed women, wives, and young women in YWCA residences, classes, and interest groups, but did not include College Students or Teenagers. The group adopted objectives at its National Young Adult Assembly in 1958.
As the post-war baby boom generation approached its teens, the National Association became concerned with how few of them were involved in the YWCA. It resolved at Convention in 1961 to place increasing emphasis on its work with teens and young adults.
Once again working to adapt the Association to the girl, rather than the girl to the Association, staff searched for appropriate and effective ways to structure programs for the new generation. The constituency was re-defined as encompassing 17 to 25 year olds, and groups were organized in a variety of ways, sometimes just for employed women, sometimes for the entire constituency, sometimes coeducational, and sometimes single sex.
The concerns of the group evolved as well. The post war program centered around marriage, education, establishment of a home, and choice of religious affiliation. By 1964 the priorities of the Young Adult Assembly included, education and employment, racial integration, sex morality, mental health, the role of women in society, civic responsibility and political action.
At the National Young Adult Conference, in November of 1969, the group changed its name to Young Women Committed to Action and delineated its priorities as child care, housing, drugs, and continuing education. The Conference received considerable national press attention as a "Youth Rebellion" where resolutions were put forward to legalize marijuana and "hand out the Pill." Despite its well-publicized beginnings, Young Women Committed to Action was short-lived. The group was officially discontinued at Convention in 1979 due to lack of participation.
Scope and Content
Records related to the Young Adult work consist of sporadic minutes, general historical materials, conference files (1951-69), some Council records, a few program and project files, publications, and materials from a workshop in 1964.
As elsewhere, very few records have survived from 1970s and 1980s.
Microfilmed Records, 1906-70 only
The microfilmed records are more extensive than those in original format. Young Adult records can be found on the microfilm under:
Original Format Records, 1948-75, n.d., 1.5 linear feet
The original format materials consist of a small amount of general historical materials, spotty minutes, publications, and some training materials from various iterations of Young Adult constituency from Home Women groups in the late 1940s to the Youth Constituencies Unit, 1974-75.
In other Subseries in this Series
In other Series in this Record Group
Other records about the YWCA's "family relations" work is in SERIES I. DEPARTMENT, STAFF, AND COMMITTEES.
Later records about YWCA activities related to child care services and advocacy are in SERIES III. PUBLIC ADVOCACY.
In other Record Groups
RECORD GROUP 3. NATIONAL ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE has files related to the controversy stirred by the first Young Women Committed to Action Conference in 1969.
RECORD GROUP 4. NATIONAL CONVENTIONS AND CONFERENCES has records about Convention actions related to the Young Adult constituency.
RECORD GROUP 7. STUDENT WORK has earlier and later records of the Student constituency.
RECORD GROUP 9. PHOTOGRAPHS contains photographs of YW-Wives and Young Adults.