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Richmond YWCA records

Identifier: M 177

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of general files, committee minutes, forms from various camps, scrapbooks, photographs and case studies. The materials cover the period from 1893 to 1980. The majority of the materials in the Executive Director Files are organizations affiliated with the YWCA. Few of the Executive Director Files contain minutes or correspondence from the executive directors branch in Richmond. Activities held on the Richmond premises are documented in the executive director's files. A majority of the Board of Director files are based on board minutes, related information, and the nominating committee files. Materials from the Constitution, History, and Documents files contain revisions of their constitution and bylaws. There are also many documents on the history of the YWCA in Greater Richmond. National documents are included in the files as well, such as national convention documents.

Series I--Executive Director (1947-1977) The YWCA has been active in their community and around the nation. Programs that help individuals and provide fellowship for everyone are common goals of the organizations that are affiliated with the YWCA. The USO, United Service Organization, in 1950-1958 was one of the earliest documented organizations they participated in to help women and girls grow in all areas. In 1951-1957, the YWCA was a member of the Richmond Area Community Chest. Newsletters, legislative matters, and recreation agencies are ways the YWCA contributed as a member of the organization. After the Community Chest changed their name to The United Givers Fund, the YWCA continued as a member from 1962-1967. In 1958, they joined the Recreation and Roundtable and they continued as a member until 1977. The Richmond International Council, from 1964-1971, was another program the YWCA was involved in to help the people of Richmond. The National Interracial Project, from 1945-1956, was documented as one of the earliest projects the YWCA joined. In 1969-1970, the YWCA continued to support anti-racism through a project called Eliminating Racism. Moreover, they became politically involved in many issues that was advocating individual rights. By 1947, the YWCA was a member of The Virginia Child Labor Committee. Their goal was to try to amend the old Virginia Labor Law. Two executive committee minutes that are documented are in 1947 and 1949. The only documented correspondence is in 1952 with Mrs. Dorothy Richardson as the executive director. The first documented executive director is in 1947 with Mrs. Lillie V.Cromwell as the executive director. There were programs that were created from the YWCA and held at the YWCA site, such as the summer youth programs from 1968-1970. The Saturday night dances were also held at the YWCA from 1948-1954. The joint building project for the YWCA and YMCA was discussed and planned from 1947-1957. The types of materials in the folders are pamphlets, papers, newsletters, and bound books with their agendas and finances.

Series II--Board of Directors (1904-1977) The Board of Directors files consists of three main categories- minutes, nominating committee, and general information on the Richmond YWCA. Board of Director files that include general information on the YWCA range from 1904-1977. These documents include information about resignations of employees, the YWCA's philosophies, and insight on the members. The years 1910-1917, 1925, 1929, 1930, and 1931 are not included in the board files. Board of Director's minutes span the years 1919 to 1971 except for the years 1929, 1939, 1949, 1960, 1963, and 1963. The nominating committee suggested names and nominated members for vacancies on the Board of Directors. Records of the nominating committee date from 1936 to 1977 with the following gaps: 1937, 1974, and 1975. A subseries is designated as Annual Reports in the Board of Directors file that consists of all the committee minutes and general reports on the committees. Subseries A consists of the Annual reports from 1893-1977 except for the following years: 1897, 1898, 1902, 1905, 1906, 1907, 1916, 1917, 1918, 1919, 1944, 1960-68, 1972, 1973, and 1975. Annual reports include reports on the committees in the YWCA. Moreover, statistical, narrative, and membership monthly reports are included in the Annual reports. Some Annual reports are in bound books, notebooks, or loose documents. The Index to Committees in the Annual reports are the minutes of committee meetings. From 1960-1968, Annual reports are filed under a different heading called the Departmental reports, but contain the same type of information as the Annual reports of earlier years. Minutes from the Annual report, board, and executive committees are listed in the Index to the Committee. Reports of general and assistant secretaries can also be found in the index files. From 1960-1977 there are yearly booklets of the YWCA's annual searchlights, noting memorable days of that particular year. Moreover, the searchlight booklets include the members on the board, trustees, and short reports on the departments. A service was held each year and the searchlight was used in the service.

Series III-Constitution, History, and Documents (1892-1985). The YWCA of Greater Richmond revised their constitution and by laws many times throughout the year; however the following years are documented: 1929, 1936, 1939, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1951, 1966, 1969, and 1975. Anniversaries were shared and celebrated among members of the YWCA. Pamphlets and documents concerning anniversary celebrations are documented in 1892, 1915, 1939, 1948, and 1962. There are lot of materials on the history of the YWCA in Greater Richmond. Dates, times, and places are documented to show the improvements and advancements of the organization. Layouts of the different branches are also provided in the files. National YWCA information is also included in the files, such as the national conventions. The following years are documented: 1915, 1936, 1946, 1949, 1955, 1969, 1970, and 1976. Annual reports of the national YWCA are documented in 1898 and 1959-61. The meetings were held in Quebec and New York. Moreover, the national YWCA devised a standards study booklet in 1936-1938. Biennial conferences and conventions of the International YWCA are documented in 1897, 1899, 1911, and 1913.


  • Creation: 1893 - 1980


Access Restrictions

Case study files are restricted

Use Restrictions

No restrictions on use.

Biographical/Historical Information

The YWCA is a national and world-wide fellowship of individuals who strive to help girls develop in all areas. Principles and goals are implemented in their daily interaction with members of the organization, such as building moral character and developing leadership qualities to teach teamwork. Training girls and young women to grow in the knowledge and love of God is another characteristic that the YWCA incorporates in their daily interaction.

Among others in the meeting at St. Paul's Church in Richmond, Mrs. Emily Fairfax Whittle was the primary founder of the YWCA of Greater Richmond in May 16, 1887. Mrs. Whittle and others in the meeting wanted to help the women who left the shelter of their home to seek outside fortune. As a result of the group's concern, the association's purpose was to protect and provide help for those women who left their home. It was not until 1890 when the association was chartered and Mrs. Whittle was the first president. Several years later, the organization strengthened and was able to buy two connecting houses. The houses accommodated 45 girls. By 1906, the name was amended to the Young Womens Christian Association. A progressive era of the association had developed with Hawes as president in 1911. Under her services, the Phyllis Wheatly Branch for colored women was established and they also became affiliated with the National YMCA. Since 1924, they have been a member of the United Givers Fund and many other supportive organizations that help better the nation. By 1932, the association was becoming involved in group programs for girls, such as day camps and Y-teens. In 1950, clubs were formed, such as the city wide club. Current situations that continue to influence the world or the complexities of our modern life are issues the YWCA addresses through programs and meetings.The records of the executive directors begin with Mrs. Cromwell in 1947. The last record on file is in 1977 with Mrs. Robinson as executive director.


42.6 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The executive director's files are arranged alphabetically by subject. The series are arranged alphabetically and then chronologically. Scrapbooks are located in the oversize area with other scrapbooks. The collection is arranged in 11 series: Series I--Executive Director (1947-1977); Series II--Board of Directors (1904-1977); Series III--Constitution, History and Documents (1893-1969); Series IV--Budgets (1922-1977); Series V--Camps (1932-1970); Series VI--Case Studies (n.d.) [Restricted]; Series VII--Committees and Programs (1916-1980); Series VIII--General Files (1933-1980); Series IX--City Study (n.d.); Series X--Photographs; Series XI--Scrapbooks.

Acquisition Information

The collection was a gift from the YWCA of Greater Richmond to the Special Collections and Archives Department on 8 March, 1983.


A Guide to the Richmond YWCA records, 1893-1980
A Collection in Special Collections and Archives, James Branch Cabell Library, Collection number M 177
2001 By Copyright Virginia Commonwealth University. All Rights Reserved.
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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Funding: Web version of the finding aid funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Repository Details

Part of the VCU James Branch Cabell Library Repository

Special Collections and Archives 901 Park Avenue
Richmond Virginia 23284 USA US
(804) 828-1108