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 home >> Civil Rights History Project >> Survey of Collections and Repositories >> Collections >> Collection Record

The Civil Rights History Project: Survey of Collections and Repositories

Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) of Portland, Oregon papers

Repository: Lewis & Clark College. Special Collections

Collection Description (CRHP): This extensive archive of complete institutional records of the YWCA includes approximately 40 oral histories completed in anticipation of the organization's centennial in 2001. Of these, a handful of African American women active in the organization recorded their stories, which intersected in varying degrees with civil rights agitation within the YWCA and in the larger community. Includes photographs and other multimedia as well as cassette tapes and transcripts.

Collection Description (Extant): The Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) has its roots in Anglo-American evangelicalism and in the growth of the middle class in the nineteenth century. Women in the United States played a range of roles in the consolidation of this organization. Much of the YWCA's leadership came from educated and leisured women whose roots were in mainline Protestant church networks and who were interested in spreading the Gospel and doing Christian good works. Constituents and staff came from working women and college students seeking fellowship as well as from new professional social workers, teachers, and reformers with visions of social change. Women in New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Ohio built Association boarding houses, training schools, and day nurseries in the decades before the YWCA incorporated into a national organization in 1907, with its new headquarters in New York City.

Portland, Oregon's YWCA was founded in 1901. The founding Board was made up of women from some of the most economically and politically prominent white families in the city: Corbett, Failing, Ladd, and Honeyman. Like most 'city associations,' as they were called before national incorporation, protective outreach to working women in the downtown area was a priority. The Portland YWCA ran its early programs out of rented rooms, and included a dormitory, a visiting parlor, meeting rooms, and classroom space available to members or to paying customers. The YWCA built its first permanent building downtown in 1908.

In later years the Portland YWCA was proactive in providing services to economically and racially disadvantaged groups. They were one of the few organization to come out publicly against Japanese internment during World War II. This collection documents the varied activities of this organization.

Content Description

This collection spans the history of the YWCA in Portland from 1901 to 2000. It includes records from administration, finances, conferences, and the summer camp Westwind. There is also an extensive photograph collection that documents building history, administration, health and physical education, the camp program, and social services. The audio-visual archive includes public service announcements, VHS tapes of the summer camp, radio announcements by Lucille Ball, and addresses by Hillary Clinton.

Date(s): 1901-2001 (inclusive)

Digital Status: No

Existing IDs: Collection Number: OLPb009YWC

Extent: 50 cubic feet

Finding Aid URL: External Link

Language: English

Rights (CRHP): Contact the repository which holds the collection for information on rights


African Americans--Civil rights--Oregon
Civil rights movements--Oregon
Japanese Americans
Young Women's Christian Association of the U.S.A.


Sound recordings


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   May 15, 2015
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