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Edith M. Lerrigo Papers, 1922-1989 (Bulk: 1930-1981)
4 boxes (2 linear ft.)
Collection number: MS 608

Abstract:
YWCA executive, YWCA worker, Social welfare worker. The Edith M. Lerrigo Papers are primarily related to her professional and public life, dating from 1922 to 1989. Types of materials include correspondence, sermons, prayers, meditations and worship services, photographs, reports, subject files, and writings. The bulk of the papers date from 1930s to 1981 and consist primarily of notes, outlines, and texts for Lerrigo's many speeches and presentations, the bulk of which were given at YWCA events and meetings, or about the YWCA. They provide some especially valuable insight into Lerrigo's work with youth and college and university students, as well as her leadership on issues related to race, the women's movement, and the place of religion in the YWCA. Materials about Lerrigo's professional activities include press releases; notebooks of ideas, discussion notes, and on talks and events attended from her days in youth work in New Jersey in the 1930s, through her work in the College and University Division of the YWCA in the early 1940s; materials about Lerrigo's time in China and her continued relations with YWCA women there; a file on a 1982 trip to China; and a transcript of an oral history primarily about Lerrigo's time in China and about the YWCA's role in the world as an ecumenical lay movement. Subject files inlcude files on Christianity in China, files of raw materials for worship services, and notes on miscellaneous reading and lectures attended by Lerrigo. Writings consist of manuscript poems, prayers, and school essays; copies of articles by Lerrigo; and a compilation of articles Lerrigo wrote for The YWCA Magazine published by the YWCA as a retirement tribute.

Terms of Access and Use:

Restrictions on access:

The Papers are open to research according to the regulations of the Sophia Smith Collection without any additional restrictions.

Restrictions on use:

Permission must be obtained to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use." Copyright ownership of Edith Lerrigo's writings is unknown. Copyright to materials authored by persons other than Edith Lerrigo may be owned by those individuals or their heirs or assigns. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Permission to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use" must also be obtained from the Sophia Smith Collection as owners of the physical property.

Sophia Smith Collection
Smith College
Northampton, MA

Biographical Note

Edith Mary Lerrigo (pronounced "Larry Go") was born September 20, 1910 in Lithia, Massachusetts to P.H.J. (Peter Hugh James) and Edith D. Lerrigo. At the time, her parents were on furlough from their work as medical missionaries in the Philippines. The family went back to the Philippines for three years, but the ill health of Edith's mother prompted a return to the U.S. Lerrigo's father went to work for the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society, a job which required the family to move around quite a bit. Dissatisfied with the various public schools Edith attended, Lerrigo's parents sent her to Vermont Academy in Saxton's River, Vermont, 1924-28. It was there that she first joined the YWCA. She went on to Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, earning a B.A. in sociology and religion in 1932. Lerrigo was a member of the Bates YWCA during all four years there, serving as its Secretary, Vice President, and then President.

After college Lerrigo returned home to New Jersey and spent the following year studying religious education at Teachers College at Columbia University. She earned an M.A. in 1933. Later on, she pursued additional graduate study in Christian Ethics and religious education at Union Theological Seminary.

For the next several years she took charge of running the family home and worked part-time as Director of Young Peoples Activities in the family church, First Baptist Church in East Orange, New Jersey.

Lerrigo joined the national YWCA staff in 1937 in the department specializing in work with college students. There she coordinated work in the northeast region, particularly in New England colleges.

Lerrigo went to the University of California at Berkeley to study Chinese in 1942-43, then went to China under the auspices of the YWCA of the U.S.A.'s Foreign Division. As an advisory staff member to the YWCA of China, Lerrigo primarily worked with college students in Kunming, Chungking, Shanghai, Hangchow, and Nanking.

Upon returning to the U.S. in 1947, Lerrigo returned to the Student Division, this time coordinating work in the Pacific southwest. From there she became Executive in charge of the College and University Division (1954-59), then moved to become National Executive Director of the YWCA of the U.S.A.

Lerrigo's years (1959-74) at the helm were particularly challenging ones for the organization as it struggled with the social upheaval of the era, including strong pressures to merge with the YMCA, to downplay the Association's Christian purpose, and adoption of the "One Imperative" to eliminate racism. Lerrigo was unequivocal in her support of the YWCA's role as an important agent for social change. Tributes at her death describe her as "strong and insightful leader" with "a firm grasp of the problem at hand and [a] creative spirit in approaching it."

In addition to her work in the YWCA, Lerrigo served on the United Church of Christ's Council of Social Christian Action, the Committee to Study Ministry on the Campus of the Danforth Foundation, and on the Board and several committees of the National Council of Churches. She was Co-Chair of the Consultation on Ecumenical Policies and Practices for the Conference of World YMCA and YWCA in Switzerland in 1962, and active in the National Assembly of Voluntary Health and Social Welfare Organizations, the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia, and on the editorial board of the liberal Protestant Christian journal Christianity and Crisis .

She received honorary degrees from Bates College (1961) and Keuka College (1963).

A member of Riverside Church in New York City for more than 25 years, Lerrigo served on many of its committees and on the Board of Deacons, and played a leading role in the development of the Riverside Fund for Social Justice.

Edith Lerrigo retired to Pilgrim Place, a religious and cultural center for retired Christian workers in Claremont, California, in 1980. She died there on June 24, 1989.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Edith M. Lerrigo Papers consist of 2 linear ft. and are primarily related to her professional and public life, dating from 1922 to 1989. Types of materials include correspondence; sermons, prayers, meditations and worship services; speech texts and outlines; photographs; reports; subject files; and writings.

The bulk of the papers date from the 1930s to 1981 and consist primarily of notes, outlines, and texts for Lerrigo's many speeches and presentations.


Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on access:

The Papers are open to research according to the regulations of the Sophia Smith Collection without any additional restrictions.

Restrictions on use:

Permission must be obtained to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use." Copyright ownership of Edith Lerrigo's writings is unknown. Copyright to materials authored by persons other than Edith Lerrigo may be owned by those individuals or their heirs or assigns. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Permission to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use" must also be obtained from the Sophia Smith Collection as owners of the physical property.

Preferred Citation

Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection:

Edith M. Lerrigo Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, Mass.

History of the Collection

The Edith M. Lerrigo Papers came to the Sophia Smith Collection with the Records of the YWCA of the U.S.A. in 2002. The YWCA received them from Lerrigo's sister, Florence Lerrigo, in 1990. Additional materials were received from Patricia Corbett in 2014.

Processing Information

Processed by Maida Goodwin, 2009


Additional Information
Contact Information
Smith College Special Collections
Young Library
4 Tyler Drive
Northampton, MA 01063

Phone: (413) 585-2970
Fax: (413) 585-2886

Email: specialcollections@smith.edu
URL: https://www.smith.edu/libraries/special-collections
Language
English
Sponsor
Processing of the Edith M. Lerrigo Papers was made possible by the generous support of the National Historical Records and Publications Commission

Series Descriptions
(1933-1989)
4 linear in.

This series provides an overview of Edith M. Lerrigo's career and also includes a small amount of biographical information and correspondence.

The biographical materials consist of applications, obituaries, an honorary degree citation, a small amount correspondence, and a "party and social book" of clippings and notes for successful social events. The correspondence to Gordon and Winifred Corbett, most of it from China, provides an informal, behind-the-scenes picture of the life of a YWCA staffer.

Materials about Lerrigo's professional activities include press releases; notebooks of ideas, discussion notes, and on talks and events attended from her days in youth work in New Jersey in the 1930s, through her work in the College and University Division of the YWCA in the early 1940s; reports to various YWCA of the U.S.A. and World YWCA committees and boards; materials about Lerrigo's time in China and her continued relations with YWCA women there; a file on a 1982 trip to China; and a transcript of an oral history primarily about Lerrigo's time in China and about the YWCA's role in the world as an ecumenical lay movement.

(1943-82, n.d.)
2 linear in.

This series consists of prints of photographs of Edith Lerrigo and friends and associates.

(1927-81, n.d.)
2 linear in.

This series consists of notes and texts for Lerrigo's participation in a variety of religious services dating from her high school days into her retirement years. Lerrigo's sermons, prayers, meditations, and worship services were created for use in professional, volunteer, and personal settings.

(1931-81, n.d.)
1 linear ft.

This series contains notes, outlines, and some complete texts for many speeches and presentations by Lerrigo. The bulk were either given at YWCA events and meetings, or are about the YWCA. They provide some especially valuable insight into Lerrigo's work with youth and college and university students, as well as her leadership on issues related to race, the women's movement, and the place of religion in the YWCA.

(1955-81, n.d.)
2 linear in.

This series consists of a variety of printed materials and notes on topics of interest to Lerrigo. Included are files on Christianity in China, files of raw materials for worship services, and notes on miscellaneous reading and lectures attended by Lerrigo.

(1922-74, n.d)
1 linear in.

This series consists of manuscript poems, prayers, and school essays; copies of articles by Lerrigo; and a compilation of articles Lerrigo wrote for The YWCA Magazine published by the YWCA as a retirement tribute.

Contents List
SERIES I. BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS AND PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES



General
1963-89 n.d.

Box 1: folder 1
Correspondence to Gordon and Winifred Corbett
1944-47

Box 1: folder 1A
Application to Columbia University Ph.D. program
circa 1934

Box 1: folder 2
Transcript of interview conducted by Marion Robinson
24 Oct 1977

Box 1: folder 3
Party and social book
circa 1930s

Box 1: folder 4
First Baptist Church of East Orange, New Jersey, Director of Young People's Activities and related work: programs, discussion materials, and lecture and other notes
1933-37, n.d.

Box 1: folder 5
Riverside Church
1966-76, n.d.

Box 1: folder 6
United Church of Christ: Report on Retreat "Non-Violence in the Midst of Terrorism," Turkey
Feb 1980

Box 1: folder 7
World YWCA: Report to the Executive Committee of Consultation on Ecumenical Policy and Practices of Lay Christian Movements, St. Cergue, Switzerland
1962

Box 1: folder 8
YWCA of China



General
1944-45, n.d.

Box 1: folder 9
Correspondence
1956-83

Box 1: folder 10
Transfer of funds from YWCA of the U.S.A. Board of Trustees
1941-83

Box 1: folder 11
Spring Wind Tour II to People's Republic of China
Apr 1982

Box 1: folder 12
YWCA of the U.S.A.



Notes and correspondence re: interview with Sarah Lyon about Lyon's work in the YWCA
1975-80, n.d.

Box 1: folder 13
Student/College and University Division



General
1954, n.d.

Box 1: folder 14
Notebook
circa 1938-43

Box 1: folder 15
Reports to National Board
1957, 1959

Box 1: folder 16
Executive Director



Notes on talks given by others to YWCA groups
circa 1960, 1966

Box 1: folder 17
Reports to National Board
1960, 1966

Box 1: folder 18
SERIES II. PHOTOGRAPHS



Edith Lerrigo alone
1943-79, n.d.

Box 1: folder 19
Edith Lerrigo with others
1945-82, n.d.

Box 1: folder 20
Identified others
1956-82, n.d.

Box 2: folder 1
Unidentified
1957-82, n.d.

Box 2: folder 2
SERIES III. SERMONS, PRAYERS, MEDITATIONS, AND WORSHIP SERVICES



Miscellaneous
n.d.

Box 2: folder 3
Bates Collegen.d
1931-33

Box 2: folder 4
Church Women United
n.d.

Box 2: folder 5
Claremont (California) United Church of Christ Women's Fellowship
1980-81

Box 2: folder 6
New Jersey
1934, n.d.

Box 2: folder 7
SERIES III. SERMONS, PRAYERS, MEDITATIONS, AND WORSHIP SERVICES (cont'd)



Pilgrim Place, Claremont, California
1981

Box 2: folder 8
Riverside Church sermon, "God Risks"
20 Jan 1974

Box 2: folder 9
United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia
1975-76

Box 2: folder 10
United Church Women: worship services for National Assembly
1964

Box 2: folder 11
Vermont Academy
1927

Box 2: folder 12
YWCA of the U.S.A.


Box 2
General
1939-73, n.d.

Box 2: folder 13-15
Memorial Service for Jessamine Fenner
1965

Box 2: folder 16
SERIES IV. SPEECHES AND PRESENTATIONS



Bates College


Box 2
General
1931

Box 2: folder 17
Baccalaureate Address
1961

Box 2: folder 18
Biblical Seminary, [re YWCA]
Feb 1962

Box 2: folder 19
Christian Youth work, various locations in New Jersey
1934-35, n.d.

Box 2: folder 20
National Conference of Social Welfare, "Institutional Racism-Where Do We Go From Here?"
Jun 1970

Box 2: folder 21
Ohio Wesleyan University, "Involved in Revolution, or The Fourth Act"
Nov 1964

Box 2: folder 22
Riverside Church
1960-79, n.d.

Box 2: folder 23
Union Seminary


Box 2
Presentations to class in student work
1956, 1958

Box 2: folder 24
Women's Conference
1962, 1963

Box 2: folder 25
World YWCA



General
1959-62, n.d.

Box 2: folder 26
"Racial Tensions in the World Today," World YMCA-YWCA Conference of Young Adults, Beirut
1964

Box 2: folder 27
YWCA of the U.S.A.



Miscellaneous and unidentified YWCA groups



1934-58

Box 2: folder 28
1959-74, n.d.

Box 3: folder 1-3
Community YWCAs



General
1934-81, n.d.

Box 3: folder 4-5
"Our Strength as a Women's Movement," YWCA of the City of New York Central Branch
1963

Box 3: folder 6
"The Past is Prelude or Match Us to This Hour," Ohio- Wesleyan University YWCA, 75th Anniversary
1964

Box 3: folder 7
Conferences and consultations



Miscellaneous
1955-66

Box 3: folder 8
Estes Conference
1957

Box 3: folder 9
"Freedom to Move," regional conferences
1969

Box 3: folder 10
"From Faith to Action," Southern Regional Conference
1960

Box 3: folder 11
"The Place Whereon We Stand," National Consultations with Local Association Leaders
1962

Box 3: folder 12
"The Student Christian Association Movement," Blue Ridge Conference
Jun 1955

Box 3: folder 13
"YWCAs-Centers for Social Change," Toledo Workshop
Apr 1972

Box 3: folder 14
Convention



General
1961

Box 3: folder 15
"The Unfinished Task"
1967

Box 3: folder 16
Closing session
1973

Box 3: folder 17
Former YWCA Board and Staff
1960, 1963

Box 3: folder 18
National Board



Miscellaneous
1957-58

Box 3: folder 19
"Relationship of the College and University Division of the YWCA with Church Student Movements"
Jan 1956

Box 3: folder 20
"The Task to Which We are Called Today"
Feb 1957

Box 3: folder 21
Program Development conferences and institutes



General
1960-66 n.d.

Box 3: folder 22
"A National Movement with a Christian Purpose"
1963

Box 3: folder 23
"YWCA Purpose: Lodestar of the Movement"
1974

Box 3: folder 24
Staff meetings and conferences



General
1952-70, n.d.

Box 3: folder 25
National Staff Meetings
1964

Box 4: folder 1
Community YWCA Executive Directors and Board Presidents
1961-69

Box 4: folder 2
New York Area Professional Staff Conference
Oct 1962

Box 4: folder 3
"Welcome to YWCA Staff"
1970

Box 4: folder 4
Student Division and National Student Assembly



General
1948-68, n.d.

Box 4: folder 5-6
"A New Day in the Student YWCA"
Oct 1957

Box 4: folder 7
To Student YWCAs
1942-54, n.d.

Box 4: folder 8
Training
1962-74

Box 4: folder 9
Y-Teens
1965, n.d.

Box 4: folder 10
Miscellaneous unidentified



"By Faith"
n.d.

Box 4: folder 11
"From Bittersweet Tears to Dignity and Justice: A Visit to the People's Republic of China after 30 Years:" notes
circa 1976

Box 4: folder 12
Untitled
n.d.

Box 4: folder 13
SERIES V. SUBJECT FILES



Christianity in China
1976-81, n.d.

Box 4: folder 14-15
Sermons, prayers, and worship services
1955-77, n.d.

Box 4: folder 16-17
Miscellaneous notes on reading and lectures
n.d.

Box 4: folder 18
SERIES VI. WRITINGS



Poems and prayers
1922-54, n.d.

Box 4: folder 19
School essays
1928-32, n.d.

Box 4: folder 20
Articles
1959-73, n.d.

Box 4: folder 21
Compilation of articles written for The YWCA Magazine
circa 1974

Box 4: folder 22

Search Terms
The following terms represent persons, organizations, and topics documented in this collection. Use these headings to search for additional materials on this web site, in the Five College Library Catalog, or in other library catalogs and databases.

Subjects
  • Lerrigo, Edith Mary, 1910-1989
  • Women college students -- United States -- History -- 20th century -- Sources
  • Young Women's Christian Association of the U.S.A. -- History
  • Young Women's Christian Associations -- China


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