Grace Loucks Elliott Papers
Grace Loucks was born February 19, 1891, in Alverton, Pennsylvania, to John Lepman and Sarah Jane (Hunsberger) Loucks. While attending Findlay College in Findlay, Ohio, Loucks first joined the YWCA. After earning her B.A. in 1910, she taught high school at Findlay College Academy (1911-12), East Huntington High School in Alverton (1912-14), and the Irwin (Pennsylvania) High School (1914-16).
Loucks attended the YWCA National Training School in New York (1916-17), then joined the YWCA national staff as a student field secretary based first in Dallas, Texas (1917-20) "riding the college circuit" in the southwest, and later as secretary in charge of student conferences in New York City (1920-27).
While in New York, Loucks studied religious education at Teachers College and Union Theological Seminary, completing a Masters degree in 1924.
On June 24, 1927 Grace Loucks married Harrison Sacket Elliott, who eventually became head of the Religious Education Department at Union Theological Seminary. The couple had three children: David Loucks, Donald Harrison, and Margaret Jean.
Following her marriage, Grace Loucks Elliott continued to work for the student movement of the YWCA as a volunteer member of the National Student Council. In 1930 she was elected to the National Board of the YWCA. She also obtained a Ph.D. in religious education from Columbia University, completing her degree in 1934. From 1936 to 1943 she taught in the Union Theological Seminary summer school.
Elliott published her first book, The Sex Life of Youth, co-authored with Harry Bone, in 1929. This was followed by Understanding the Adolescent Girl in 1930, Women After Forty, in 1936, and Solving Personal Problems, co-authored with her husband, also in 1936. In addition, Elliott was a frequent contributor to educational, social, and religious journals. Elliott was well known outside the YWCA for her work in adolescent and adult psychology, and was a popular lecturer in the field of family life education.
In the fall of 1943 Elliott accepted the post of General Secretary (chief executive) of the YWCA of the U.S.A. Taking the helm during the difficult post-war years, Elliott's tenure included, among other things, the unionization of the national staff, regular attacks on the Association as a "red" organization, constant pressure to merge with the YMCA, demands for a more inclusive, less explicitly Protestant Christian organization, continued struggles with interracial issues within the Association, and the flight of much of its traditional membership from urban areas to the suburbs.
Elliott's husband Harrison died in 1951 and she retired from the YWCA in the spring of 1953. Post-retirement, Elliott carried out several assignments in the 1950s related to leadership training for the World YWCA. She received an honorary degree from Hood College in 1952 and was the first woman to deliver a Commencement address there. She was a visiting professor at Wells College, 1954-56, then served as acting president of Beirut College for Women in Beirut, Lebanon, 1958-59.
Particularly interested in the YWCA's religious purpose, Elliott served as a consultant to the 1964-67 Commission to Study the YWCA as a Christian Movement. This effort sought to assess the significance of Christianity to the contemporary issues and programming. The study concluded that a dynamic Christianity, responsive to the increasing social consciousness of the young, remained central to the programming of the YWCA
In a 1978 article for YWCA Interchange, YWCA archivist and librarian Elizabeth Norris, described Grace Loucks Elliott as "administrator, Bible scholar, curriculum designer, Doctor of Philosophy, feminist thinker, mother, organization executive, pioneer in group work methodology, psychologist, sex educator, student counselor, teacher, theologian, wife, World YWCA Council member, and writer."
Grace Loucks Elliott died on August 4, 1979 in Alexandria, Virginia.