YWCA USA History

YWCA USA has been eliminating racism and empowering women in the United States for over 150 years.

YWCA USA History

Throughout our history in the United States, the YWCA has been in the forefront of most major movements 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, NY.

1866 “YWCA” was first used in Boston, MA.

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

1874 The YWCA opens a low cost summer “resort” for employed women in Philadelphia, PA.

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

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

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

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 incorporated in New York City.

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

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.

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 a Washington, DC residence initially designed to house women war workers.

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

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

1944 The National Board appears 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 adopted by the 17th National Convention.

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

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

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

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 trust our collective power towards the elimination of racism, wherever it exists, by any means necessary.”

1972 The YWCA started the ENCORE program for women who have undergone breast cancer surgery.

1982 YWCA establishes Fund For The Future.

1983 The YWCA National Board urges 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, 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 as a nationwide effort to unite people against violence in communities. The annual observance is held the third week of October.

2001 Steps to Absolute Change was adopted. The YWCA shifted from a top down to a bottom up grassroots organization. Local associations joined regions and elected their regional representatives to the National Coordinating Board.

2004 Igniting the Collective Power of the YWCA to Eliminate Racism, the YWCA USA’s Summit on Eliminating Racism, was held in Birmingham, AL.

2008 The YWCA celebrates its Sesquicentennial Anniversary with the launch of the “Own It” campaign. Focused on igniting a new generation of 22 million young women aged 18 to 34 to get involved with important issues facing women and the country today.