Archives of the Young Women’s Christian Association of Rhode Island
Women's organization, Rhode Island
Size: 60 linear feet
Catalog number: MSS 100
Not processed. Box list by Mary McKone, December 1991.
(Scrapbooks and volumes inventory done by Pat Marrazano, August 1991)
©Rhode Island Historical Society
The YWCA in Rhode Island was founded as the Providence Women's Christian Association by a group of seven women in Providence in March, 1867. In 1988 the name was changed to the Young Women's Christian Association, the third Y to become organized in the United States.
The aim of the organization was to provide a home away from home for young women who had migrated to the city in search of work. A boarding house was established for this purpose at 54 North Main Street and was funded with donations from individuals and the Churches of Providence.
In 1888 a similar organization was established, the Providence Evangelical Young Women's Christian Association. The primary focus of this organization was religion and encompassed more religion-oriented activities than the organization founded in 1867. Eventually, the two groups merged in 1902. The new organization combined the religious education focus of the Evangelical group with the social and welfare concerns of the original Y.
Because of the rapid growth of the Association and the addition of activities not included at its inception, three more moves were required before the purchase of its present building at 54 Jackson Street in Providence.
The scope of activities broadened to include the establishment of a summer residence in Jamestown in 1876 as a vacation retreat for young working women from the city. Other programs established between 1889 and 1951 were called clubs and identified with working girls, physical education, homemaking and an employment agency.
The International Institute, the Travelers Aid, and the Plantations Club emanated from the Y in 1921, 1894 and 1916. It is interesting to note that these organizations were founded under the auspices of the Y, and later became separate independent organizations.
The Pawtucket/Central Falls branch was organized on November l7, 1890 as the Women's Auxiliary of the YMCA. It became apparent in 1912 that there was a need for a YWCA in Pawtucket. Responding to this need, Mrs. Sarah Frances Grand donated her home on Broad Street to establish the YWCA in 1914.
In December of 1965, Providence ad Pawtucket/Central Falls merged to form the YWCA of Greater Rhode Island.
Today it is an organization that not only encompasses helping women and girls in their work, play and day-to-day living, but has widened its scope to include abuse intervention projects and programs for men and women over 60.
Archives of YWCA, Manuscript Collection, Rhode Island Historical Society.
Baker, Dorcey. "Women and Reform, 1865-1900: The Women's Christian Association, Providence" (student paper at RIHS, 1978)
Chudacoff, Nancy. "Providence Women's Organizations, 1800-1920" (student paper at RIHS, 1976)
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Scope and content:
The records relating to the YWCA in Rhode Island date from 1867-1980. They consist of fifty boxes and seventy-five scrapbooks. Included are documents that relate to the inception
of the organization in 1867 in Providence, the founding of the Pawtucket/Central Falls organization in 1880, and the merging of the two as the Young Women's Christian Association of Greater Rhode Island in 1965.
These records reflect the varied activities associated with the YWCA in its programs and goals. The papers include financial and statistical data, reports from the various committees, real estate records and deeds, building renovation records, bequests, audit reports and special studies conducted by the Rhode Island Council of Community Services, the United Way and Dr. John McDowell for the Rhode Island Development Council. Also included are memorabilia such as souvenir programs of special events, as well as invitations and menus. There are many pamphlets and booklets which describe the various programs: camping, swimming, homemaking and health education, and social programs.
There is much duplication of papers. The bulk of the material consists of financial records, audit reports, income and expense, personnel records and course attendance statistics.
Notable by its absence is the dearth of material of YWCA's other than Providence and Pawtucket/Central Falls. The records contain very little relative to the Barrington, Warwick and Southern Rhode Island Y's.
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These records were all donated by the Y.W.C.A. of Rhode Island in 1985 and 1986, with the except of a small quantity dated circa 1965-1966 found among papers donated by Sybil Kern in 1990.
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Material in the boxes were examined, but since this is a preliminary examination, it is necessary for the boxes to be reexamined. Duplications needed to be weeded out. A determination has to be made regarding which papers are to be retained for the collection as well as the removal of staples and paper clips. Everything should then be put in acid-free folders and boxes and a final series arrangement compiled.
The materials are in various stages of organization. Pawtucket/Central Falls records appear to have consistent organization while the other groups are less organized.
In addition, an effort should be made to obtain any other records from the YWCA, especially those records dated from 1980 forward.
A detailed box list is available at the library.
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Business Girls Club
Camp Seaside (R.I.)
Central Falls, R.I. - Clubs
Clubs - Rhode Island
Girls - Societies and clubs
International Institute of Rhode Island
Pawtucket, R.I. - Clubs
Providence Plantations Club
Providence, R.I. - Clubs
Traveler's Aid (R.I.)
United Way of Rhode Island
Women - Societies and Clubs
Young Evangelical Women's Christian Association
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