YWCA Herstory

  • First town Association is founded,

    1858
    First town Association is founded, Ladies Christian Association in New York City.
  • YWCA name first used in Boston.

  • First boarding house

    First boarding house for female students, teachers and factory workers opened in New York City.
  • First child care center in the U.S.

    1864 First child care center in the U.S. opened in the YWCA of Philadelphia.
  • First travelers’ aid initiative

    1866 First travelers’ aid initiative opened in the Boston YWCA. It later separated to become the Travelers’ Aid Society.
  • Cleveland opens The Retreat

    1869 In the face of “unreasonable prejudice and misinterpretation”, Cleveland opens The Retreat, a residence for unwed mothers.
  • First typewriting instruction for women

    1870 First typewriting instruction for women opened in the New York City YWCA (typewriting was considered a man’s job).
  • First sewing machine classes

    1872 First sewing machine classes and first employment bureau opened in the New York City YWCA.
  • First Student YWCA

    1873 First Student YWCA organized at Normal University in Normal, Illinois.
  • First (and only) low-cost summer “resort”

    1874 First (and only) low-cost summer “resort” for employed women opened in the YWCA of Philadelphia; it was dedicated by President Ulysses S. Grant
  • YWCA of Pittsburgh

    1882 YWCA of Pittsburgh opened and operated for many years a home for Negro orphans and children seeking foster parents.
  • Convention YWCA

    Convention report states, “When the little one enters the Kindergarten at throe years, a new world opens to him (sic). Immediately his heart, head, and hands are enlisted in his everyday work. The little one plays and sweet songs are fun of meaning and a part of the whole plan of education.”
  • First Negro branch organized in Dayton, Ohio.

    First Negro branch organized in Dayton, Ohio.
  • Haworth Institute (Chilocco, Oklahoma).

    First YWCA among American Indian young women organized at Haworth Institute (Chilocco, Oklahoma).
  • First public cafeteria opened in the YWCA of Kansas City, Kansas

    First public cafeteria opened in the YWCA of Kansas City, Kansas
  • First training school for practical nursing opened in the YWCA of Brooklyn, New York

  • National organization of mostly student Associations joins with Great Britain, Sweden and Norway to found the World YWCA.

  • World YWCA

    1894 National organization of mostly student Associations joins with Great Britain, Sweden and Norway to found the World YWCA
  • YWCA has seven African-American Student Associations affiliated with it.

  • Young Women’s Christian Association of the United States of America.

    American Committee (composed primarily of Student Associations) and the International Board (composed of primarily city and town Associations) joined together to form one organization, the Young Women’s Christian Association of the United States of America.
    First organization to introduce “positive health” sex education in all health programming.
  • First Secretary (director) works with African-American colleges; in under a year, such student YWCAs double.

    1909 First Secretary (director) works with African-American colleges; in under a year, such student YWCAs double.
  • Fifty-seven branches are created to help immigrant women.

  • First Public Policy Resolution

    First Public Policy Resolution was passed: support passage of minimum wage law for women.
    Bi-lingual instruction for immigrant families is featured in the YWCA International Institute.
  • YWCA National Board creates a Commission on Sex Education (Social Morality)

    YWCA National Board creates a Commission on Sex Education (Social Morality). First national conference grounds for women: 30-acre YWCA Asilomar Conference Grounds opens in Pacific Grove, California, designed by architect Julia Morgan.
    Eva Bowles is the first black staff member to work with Local Associations.
  • first interracial conference in the south

    YWCA organizes the first interracial conference in the south, held in Louisville, Kentucky.
    Hollywood Studio Club, YWCA residence for aspiring actresses, opens in Los Angeles, California.
  • 1916 First English-as-a-Second-Language classes open at YWCA of New York City.

  • First women’s organization permitted in a U.S. Army camp.

    Extensive work with women of all races is expanded through the War Work Council. First women’s organization permitted in a U.S. Army camp.
    First group to send professionals (433) overseas to provide administrative support for U.S. armed forces.
  • Woman’s Press, a YWCA publishing house,

    Woman’s Press, a YWCA publishing house, is established to “cultivate an attitude of honest, open, scientific interest in the subject of sex”; YWCA’s Social Morality program becomes the official Lecture Bureau of the Division on Social Hygiene, U.S. Department of War.
    Seventeen hostess’ houses operate as centers for recreation and service to segregated Negro troops.
    U.S. Ordinance Department invites YWCA to help 1.5 million women working in war plants; 20 service centers set up near ammunitions f
  • First National Student Assembly held

    YWCA works for wages and hour laws that affect women.
    First National Student Assembly held. Racially integrated student conferences are held in the south.
    De1egates representing 30,000 YWCA industrial members at the 1st National Industrial Conference in Washington, D.C., agree to work for “an eight-hour law, prohibition of night work and the right of labor 10 organize.
  • Grace Dodge Hotel is completed; a Washington, D.C. residence initially designed to house women war workers.

  • Bi-lingual instruction for immigrant families is featured at the YWCA International Institute’s First National Assembly of Industrial Women in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

  • National Student YWCA

    organized its field councils on an interracial basis, adopting the principle of inclusion of representation of all parts of the membership in Regional Councils.
  • YWCA firsts and national strides

    National Student Assembly takes program stands on “race relationships,” “We, the National Student Assembly ...pledge ourselves to seek anew to know the mind of Jesus in regard to our race relationships and to know students of other races, that we may rid ourselves of prejudices and may promote justice and understanding.”
    First women’s pension fund established, the YWCA Retirement Fund.
    First African-American woman elected to the YWCA National Board.
    First National Conference on Unemployment held
  • Local YWCAs are urged by convention action “to foster right public opinion which shall be effective against the menace of lynching and mob violence in every form.”

    Local YWCAs are urged by convention action “to foster right public opinion which shall be effective against the menace of lynching and mob violence in every form.”
  • Scottsboro case,

    National Board sends a board member to Decatur, Alabama, to monitor and assess the administration of justice in the Scottsboro case, a famous court case that dramatized the inequities of the southern judicial system in relation to blacks.
  • YWCA calls for legislation

    YWCAs are urged by convention action to encourage and support the federal government in policies of interracial cooperation rather than of segregation, and to support efforts to assure Negroes protection in the exercise of their basic civil rights.
    YWCA calls for legislation to provide for dissemination of birth control information under authorized medical direction
  • Interracial seminar

    Interracial seminar marks the first intercollegiate, interracial, co-ed conference in the south, held at Shaw University, Raleigh, North Carolina.
    National Student Assembly brings to convention floor a resolution that the YWCA re-affirms its support of an anti-lynching Bill in Congress.
  • National Student Assembly of the YWCA brings to the convention floor a resolution calling for a committee to “study interracial practices in Association and community life”

    National Convention endorses the Geyer Bill to abolish the poll tax. The National Student Assembly of the YWCA brings to the convention floor a resolution calling for a committee to “study interracial practices in Association and community life” and report back at the next convention. Many people support this, resulting in the Interracial Charter in 1946.
  • Naticma1 Student Assembly takes a stand

    YWCA extends its services and personnel to Japanese women and girls who were evacuated to 10 Relocation Centers. The Naticma1 Student Assembly takes a stand on the relocation of Japanese-Americans, calling it “a basic negation of civil liberties and one of the most flagrant cases of color discrimination in the history of our democratic procedure,” and urges release and resettlement of these citizens.
  • National Board

    National Board appears at both House and Senate bearings in support of a permanent FairEmployment Practices Committee.
    National Board sends to both the Republican and Democratic Conventions the following proposed plank: “The interests of democracy and national unity demand that there must be full integration of racial minorities into the armed forces and that racial discrimination and segregation in interstate travel be abolished by federal action.”
  • YWCA Racial Justice Interracial Chater forms

    Interracial Charter is adopted by the 17th Nationa1 Convention and accepts the 35 recommendations of the Interracia1 Study Commission based on two years of intensive examination of interracial policies and practices. The basic recommendation is “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.”
    Convention of the YWCA of the USA unanimously adop
  • In Grand Rapids Michigan, and Princeton, New Jersey, the city-wide YWCAs elect a Negro woman as president.

    National Convention pledges that the YWCA will work for the integration and full participation of minority groups in all phases of community and national life.
    National Convention, recognizing the need for racial justice to establish a just and stable peace, pledges as a participating member of the World YWCA “to seek deeper insight into the international implications of the Interracial Charter and to exert greater effort to realize its religious and ethical goals on a world-wide scale.”
    Sharing
  • Dissemination actions taken on Supreme Court decision

    Dissemination actions taken on Supreme Court decision. A booklet was written and distributed in 1953 and 1954 on “Our Schools and Our Democracy.” Pamphlets, magazine articles and program aids on desegregation arc sent to Local Associations at the request of the National Board. A Southern Regional Conference is held in Atlanta, Georgia to discuss “Desegregation: Problems and Opportunities.”
  • In Louisiana, a large city, YWCA is the first organization to open its doors for interracial meetings.

    progress toward inclusiveness and decide on “concrete forward steps” to be taken before the 1958 Convention.
    National Student Assembly votes to “…try to persuade their college administrations to outlaw those fraternities and sororities which have racial discriminatory clauses…”
    In Texas, a city USO operated by the YWCA becomes interracial in staff, volunteers and participants.
    In Louisiana, a large city, YWCA is the first organization to open its doors for interracial meetings.
  • YWCA National Convention call to act

    There begins a series of foundation grants to the National Board for special projects in human relations in the National Student YWCA to work specifically in the area of race. A workshop format is developed for local and intercollegiate events. These workshops begin in the southwest region, then in the total south and finally national workshops are included.
  • imperative requirement of these times,”

    As an “imperative requirement of these times,” the 21st National Convention votes to concentrate on a “greater degree of progress toward inclusiveness in respect to leadership, membership, program and services.”
  • support of the non-violent civil rights movement and thereby offers encouragement to Student Christian Associations across the country.

    On Apri1 6, the National Board takes action affirming its support of the non-violent civil rights movement and thereby offers encouragement to Student Christian Associations across the country.
    Opening of the YWCA cafeteria to Negroes in Atlanta in December, the first desegregated public dining facility in that city. This is a direct result of a student sit-in. The National Board cites this significant action in wide publicity throughout Associations and urges similar action.
    YWCA of Buffalo emp
  • The Convention votes in its National Public Affairs Program

    The Convention votes in its National Public Affairs Program for continued effort to secure and maintain basic individual rights and liberties inherent in our democratic institutions, including equal opportunities for housing, jobs, education and citizenship responsibilities.
  • YWCA Conference on Child Care calls for “cooperation with professional day care agencies assessment of the needs of working women and their children and acceptance of children of all racial, religious, and economic backgrounds at a cost parents can afford

  • YWCA participates in a March on Washington, D.C.

    At the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation and the height of the civil rights movement, the National Board launches a two-year Action Program to develop a strategy to achieve, within a given time span, real integration within YWCA programs, membership, all levels of volunteer and employed leadership and in the use of all YWCA facilities and equipment; provide more active leadership with other community groups in the areas of fair housing, voter registration and literacy programs; and pro
  • National Student Council of the YWCA approves a National leadership Conference

    National Student Council of the YWCA approves a National leadership Conference for training student leaders, establishes a voter registration and education program, supports federal civil rights legislation, and urges the establishment of a Human Relations Council by each Association on its campus. National Student YWCA leaders focus on “challenge to affluence,” with the concern for revolutions in Latin American countries and poverty in the United States.
  • Office of Racial Justice is established.

    Dr. Dorothy Height, director, leads a massive campaign against discrimination against minorities in the YWCA and society. National Board votes $200.000 in support.
    Student YWCA votes to oppose apartheid in South Africa and urges National Board to investigate its investments.
  • SPECTRUM, a summer project in understanding the urban revolution, is held to prepare for the NASY in December. This project, in which students worked in the city with the community, established a different model for student summer projects. In a New York

    SPECTRUM, a summer project in understanding the urban revolution, is held to prepare for the NASY in December. This project, in which students worked in the city with the community, established a different model for student summer projects. In a New York Times ad, the National Board issues a “Call to Women Who Care” to work for open housing
  • National YWCA elects first black woman,

    National YWCA elects first black woman, Mrs. Helen W. Claytor, as President. Convention adopts Constitutional amendment stating that any Association not “fully integrated in policy and practice and thereby living up to the “Statement of Purpose” would be disaffiliated.
    World YWCA Council meeting in Australia adopts a policy on discrimination against racial and ethnic groups.
    Convention adopts first of three abortion resolutions leading to freedom of choice. Convention votes to support “appropria
  • “YWCA Project Equality,”

    Community and Student YWCAs, under direction of the Office of Racial Justice, examine the subtleties of racism in America, using the continued lack of understanding of “liberal minds,” both black and white.
    The National Board adopts “YWCA Project Equality,” pledging to purchase goods and services from equal opportunity employers, to review its own employment practices and to recruit women leaders from minority groups.
    Associations work on a grape boycott, Operation Breadbasket in support of blac
  • One Imperative

    A pre-convention meeting of 500 black women m the YWCA is held. Convention votes on the One Imperative: “To thrust our collective power toward the elimination of racism 16
    wherever it exists and by any means necessary.” Convention adopts a Statement of Reaffirmation, Renewal and Relevance - a direction for the 1970s.
    Action Audit for Change is introduced.
    Convention votes to “give special emphasis to the immediate establishment of an extensive network of adequate child care services.
  • The One Imperative packet is disseminated and workshops added.

    The One Imperative packet is disseminated and workshops added. A web of Racism Institutes is held in 15 cities.
    Consultation of Asian-American Women, Honolulu, Hawaii.
    La Conferencia de Mujeres por La Raza, in Houston, Texas.
    World YWCA Council meeting in Ghana adopts Policy on racism and racial discrimination.
  • YWCA National Convocation on Racial Justice,

    YWCA National Convocation on Racial Justice, Consultation of Asian-American Women in Honolulu, Hawaii; Consultation of White Women of the YWCA in Forest Beach Camp, Michigan; Third World Coalition Workshop in Asilomar, California.
    YWCA publishes a book, Child Care: A Plan That Works, providing YWCAs with suggestions for strengthening child care at the local level and guidance on how to effectively avoid racism and sexism in child care programs. The basic premise underlying the YWCA’s approach to
  • YWCA publishes a book, Child Care: A Plan That Works,

    YWCA National Convocation on Racial Justice, Consultation of Asian-American Women in Honolulu, Hawaii; Consultation of White Women of the YWCA in Forest Beach Camp, Michigan; Third World Coalition Workshop in Asilomar, California.
    YWCA publishes a book, Child Care: A Plan That Works, providing YWCAs with suggestions for strengthening child care at the local level and guidance on how to effectively avoid racism and sexism in child care programs. The basic premise underlying the YWCA’s approach to
  • National Student YWCA experiments in pluralistic governance

    National Student YWCA experiments in pluralistic governance to support ethnic caucuses and develop local model-building programs to e1iminate racism.
    Convention in San Diego, California reaffirms the One Imperative. Leadership Training for small Groups at Pre-Convention Workshop. Third World meeting of Chicana, Native American, Asian and black women.
  • Conferencia para Mujeres de Puertorriquenas in Greenwich, Connecticut. Affirmative Action Institutes held.Initiates Asian Focus, International Study Program, with audio-visual presentation to interpret international dimensions on racism.

    Conferencia para Mujeres de Puertorriquenas in Greenwich, Connecticut. Affirmative Action Institutes held.
    Initiates Asian Focus, International Study Program, with audio-visual presentation to interpret international dimensions on racism.
  • Affirmative Action Guide for Equal Opportunity revised.

    Affirmative Action Guide for Equal Opportunity revised.
    Action Audit for Change Process training incorporated into Learning Centers. December 31 deadline far member Associations to submit evidence of movement on the Action Audit for Change Process during the current triennium.
  • Dr. Dorothy Height, Director, Center for Racial Justice, retires.

    Action Audit Kit revised as Action Audit for Change Process.
    National Student Leadership called for the passage of the ERA in three more states by March 1979.
    Dr. Dorothy Height, Director, Center for Racial Justice, retires. She is universally acknowledged as the “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement,” often being the only woman present at meetings with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other national leaders.
  • First grant given to a voluntary agency by U.S. Department of Commerce enables 250 YWCAs in 44 stales to form network publicizing jobs for women in local public works projects.

    First grant given to a voluntary agency by U.S. Department of Commerce enables 250 YWCAs in 44 stales to form network publicizing jobs for women in local public works projects.
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    28th Triennial Convention in Dallas, Texas approves key programs for the 1980s, including multicultural, affirmative action and societal conditions affecting women and third world persons.
    Nationa1 Board recommends to Board of Trustees divestiture of investments in corporations doing business in South Africa that the N
  • The Racial Justice Committee of the National Board bolds first three-day retreat in Memphis, Tennessee, t

    YWCA continues to work for passage of Voting Rights Act and for preservation of federal, state and local affirmative action programs.
    YWCA presidents and executive directors meet on the theme, “‘Third World Leadership Looks to the Future,” to examine the impact of institutional racism on women of color in leadership roles and to identify opportunities for the YWCA to eliminate racism. The Racial Justice Committee of the National Board bolds first three-day retreat in Memphis, Tennessee, to devel
  • National Board sponsors a meeting of Third World Executives and Presidents

    National Board sponsors a meeting of Third World Executives and Presidents. The 41 leaders representing 25 Associations discuss race-related stress, share skills and techniques for dea1ing with racism and establish a network.
    YWCA takes the lead in a three-year service advocacy project for “endangered” teen women, involving six other youth-serving agencies and more than 20 YWCAs.
  • One Imperative and adopts priorities

    29th Triennial Convention in Washington, D.C., reaffirms the One Imperative and adopts priorities, including reauthorization of the Civil Rights Commission, dissemination of educational material on affirmative action, opposition to racist organizations and use of investor power to encourage greater corporate social responsibility.
    Boston YWCA becomes first YWCA in the nation to divest itself of investments in companies doing business in South Africa.
  • “Jobs, Peace and Freedom.”

    National Board members endorse a March on Washington, D.C. for “Jobs, Peace and Freedom.” Policy statement and guidelines are adopted for relations with commercial enterprises.
    National Board submits comments on proposed rules changes to the Securities and Exchange Commission, supporting the rights of shareholders to have access to company proxy statements and opposing any changes which would make it more difficult for social responsibility resolutions to reach the proxy statement.
    National Boar
  • Racial Justice Institute conducted during National Program Conferences.

    National Board announces the first Racial Justice Award Program to recognize work of Associations toward the elimination of racism.
    National Board sends a letter to the U.S. Secretary of State urging the U.S. Administration to voice its outrage at the arrest and detention of the six leaders of the United Democratic Front, without charge who were involved in the boycott of South Africa’s recent election, and to seek official assurance from the government of South Africa of their protection and sa
  • National Board passes resolution to support efforts to increase public awareness of racist

    National Board passes resolution to support efforts to increase public awareness of racist systems enforced by the government of the Republic of South Africa, reduce use of U.S. resources that support apartheid and express concern to federal agencies responsible for U.S. policy and its implementation.
    National Board participates in non-violent demonstration against apartheid outside the South African Embassy, in a candlelight vigil in front of the Capitol in Washington, D.C. and in front of the
  • National Student YWCA rejects Sullivan Principles

    National Student YWCA rejects Sullivan Principles as an inadequate and thoroughly ineffective instrument for changing the fundamental structure of apartheid; recommends that the National Board of the YWCA encourage the Board of Trustees to present an annual investment portfolio report to the full National Board and member’ Associations of the YWCA of the USA which lists the National Board’s holdings in U.S. corporations with South African subsidiaries; and encourages them to target a 50 percent
  • World YWCA Council meets at the YWCA of the USA Leadership Development Center in Phoenix, Arizona. Jewel Graham, former National President, is elected World YWCA President

    World YWCA Council meets at the YWCA of the USA Leadership Development Center in Phoenix, Arizona. Jewel Graham, former National President, is elected World YWCA President
  • “On the Cutting Edge,”

    A newsletter, “On the Cutting Edge,” comes periodically from the national office to keep YWCAs informed about latest developments, events and programs in the area of racial justice.
    YWCA is first women’s organization invited to join U.S. Olympic Committee, Multi-Sport Division.
  • YWCA leads “pro-choice” demonstration, “March for Women’s Equality/Women’s Lives.”

    YWCA leads “pro-choice” demonstration, “March for Women’s Equality/Women’s Lives.”
  • YWCA of the USA Racial Justice Convocation

    Key civil rights leaders, public officials, and university and college representatives develop a blueprint for racial justice training at YWCA of the USA Racial Justice Convocation.
  • First Annual Day of Commitment to the Elimination of Racism

    is held in Washington, D.C. and in many Member Associations in response to the Rodney King beating and race riots in Los Angeles, California.
    YWCA organizes a National Day of Commitment to the Eliminate Racism in response to the Rodney King beating in Los Angeles, California. The kick-off is held during a Washington, D.C. press conference; YWCAs nationwide took part.
    YWCA is the first women’s organization chosen by the federal Centers f
  • Second Annual National Day of Commitment to Eliminate Racism

    is observed with a Washington D.C/Capitol Hill press conference and activities by YWCAs nationwide. First Race Against Racism is held.
  • YWCA of the USA, Avon Products, Inc.

    and the Centers for Disease Control form an unprecedented collaboration of a not-for-profit organization, for-profit enterprise and a government agency to deliver ENCOREplus a breast and cervical cancer early detection program to medically underserved women.
    Third Annual National Day of Commitment to Eliminate Racism attracts prominent speakers, including nearly a dozen members of Congress and leaders of civil rights, women’s and other community organizations
  • Delegates to the National Convention in St. Louis, Missouri, voted to “support the right of Native Hawaiians to sovereignty and self-determination.”

    Delegates to the National Convention in St. Louis, Missouri, voted to “support the right of Native Hawaiians to sovereignty and self-determination.”
    Convention summons the YWCA to “continue its active advocacy for public policies that ensure economic security for women, including (1) welfare reform that provides access to comprehensive health care, child care, education, job training, jobs and nutrition for all recipients; and (2) adoption of comprehensive public policy that places a high priori
  • Goizueta Grant to create and pilot YWCA child care standards.

    YWCAs of the USA in Atlanta and Brunswick, Georgia and Birmingham, Alabama receive Goizueta Grant to create and pilot YWCA child care standards.
  • YWCA of the USA is one of the founding organizations of the first Stand for Children March in Washington, D.C.

    YWCA of the USA is one of the founding organizations of the first Stand for Children March in Washington, D.C. A YWCA teen from San Diego, California is one of only seven speakers addressing hundreds of thousands of people from the Lincoln Memorial.