FacebookTwitterYoutube

History

Throughout our history, the YWCA has been in the forefront of most major movements in the United States as a pioneer in race relations, labor union representation, and the empowerment of women.

1858
The first association in the U.S., Ladies Christian Association, was formed in New York City.

1860
The first boarding house for female students, teachers, and factory workers opened in New York City.  

1866
“YWCA” was first used in Boston.

1870
In a YWCA Boston residence for girls, board members installed pulley weights on the back of closet doors, allowing girls from farms to continue to exercise in the city.

1872
The YWCA opened the first employment bureau in New York City.

1873
The first YWCA student association is established in Normal, Ill.

1874
The YWCA opened a low-cost summer “resort” for employed women in Philadelphia.

1877
The Boston YWCA offered a course in calisthenics for young women at a time when women are considered too frail for exercise.

1877
The YWCA Chicago provides medical services at the homes of the sick, becoming the forerunner of the Visiting Nurses Association.

1889
The first African-American YWCA branch opened in Dayton, Ohio.

1890
The first YWCA for Native American women opened at the Haworth Institute in Chilocco, Okla.

1894
The United States of America, England, Sweden, and Norway together created the World YWCA, which today operates in over 125 countries.

1894
YWCA helped to establish Travelers' Aid, a program created to protect women traveling to cities alone.

1906
The YWCA was the first organization to introduce the positive health concept and sex education in all health programming.

1907
YWCA of the USA was incorporated in New York City.

1908
The YWCA was the first industrial federation of clubs to train girls in self-government.

1913
The YWCA National Board created a commission on sex education.

1915
The YWCA held the first interracial conference in Louisville, Ky.

1918
The YWCA was the first organization to send professional workers overseas to provide administrative leadership and support to U.S. Armed Forces.

1918
YWCA’s program on social morality became the official Lecture Bureau of the Division of Social Hygiene of the War Department “to cultivate an attitude of honest, open, scientific interest in the subject of sex.”

1919
The YWCA held the International Conference of Women Physicians, the first gathering of medical women.

1920
Based on its work with women in industrial plants, the YWCA Convention voted to work for “an eight-hour/day law, prohibition of night work, and the right of labor to organize.”

1921
Grace Dodge Hotel completed construction of a Washington, D.C. residence initially designed to house women war workers.

1933
A YWCA National Board Member was sent to Decatur, Ala. to monitor and assess the administration of justice in the Scottsboro case.

1934
The YWCA encouraged members to speak out against lynching and mob violence, and for interracial cooperation and efforts to protect African Americans’ basic civil rights.

1934
YWCA delegates supported birth control services and worked to make it more widely available to the general population.

1936
The YWCA held the Interracial Seminar, marking the first intercollegiate, interracial, co-ed conference in the South.

1938
The YWCA in Columbus, Ohio, established a desegregated dining facility and is cited by the Columbus Urban League “for a courageous step forward in human relations.”

1942
The YWCA extended its services to Japanese American women and girls incarcerated in World War II Relocation Centers.

1944
The National Board appeared at the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate hearings in support of permanent Fair Employment Practices Committee Legislation.

1946
Interracial Charter was adopted by the 17th National YWCA Convention, establishing that “wherever there is injustice on the basis of race, whether in the community, the nation, or the world, our protest must be clear and our labor for its removal, vigorous and steady.”

1949
The National Convention pledged that the YWCA will work for integration and full participation of minority groups in all phases of American life.

1955
National Convention committed local associations and the National Board to review progress towards inclusiveness and decides on “concrete steps” to be taken.

1960
The Atlanta YWCA cafeteria opened to African Americans, becoming the city’s first integrated public dining facility.

1963
The YWCA National Board became a sponsoring agency in 1963 for the summer March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in Washington, D.C., where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.

1965
The National Board of the YWCA created the Office of Racial Justice to lead the civil rights efforts.

1970
The YWCA National Convention, held in Houston, adopted the One Imperative: “To thrust our collective power towards the elimination of racism, wherever it exists, by any means necessary.

1970
YWCA convention voted to emphasize the importance of repealing laws restricting or prohibiting abortions performed by a duly licensed physician.

1972
YWCA established ENCORE, an education, exercise and support program for post-mastectomy patients.

1973
The 26th National Convention held  a silent march and sets up a defense fund to protest the treatment of American Indians at Wounded Knee Reservation, S.C.

1982
YWCA established “Fund for The Future,” designed to help with the cost of operations and education programs. 

1983
The YWCA National Board urged Congress to support legislation that opposes the South African policy of apartheid.

1992
The YWCA National Day of Commitment to Eliminate Racism began in response to the beating of Rodney King, an African American man, the acquittal of four white Los Angeles police officers accused of the crime, and the subsequent riots and unrest across the country. 

1995
The YWCA Week Without Violence was created to united people against violence in communities. The annual observance is held the third week of October.

2004
Igniting the collective power of the YWCA to eliminate racism, the YWCA USA’s Summit on Eliminating Racism, was held in Birmingham, Ala.

2005
YWCA of Trenton, N.J. and YWCA Princeton, N.J. establish the “Stand Against Racism” campaign, which spreads to 39 states with over a quarter million participants.

2008
The YWCA celebrated its Sesquicentennial Anniversary, 150 years of service, with the launch of the “Own It” campaign. The campaign focused on igniting a new generation of 22 million young women aged 18 to 34, inspiring them to get involved with important issues facing women and the country today.

2013
Today over 2 million people participate in YWCA programs at more than 1,300 sites across the United States.