West Chester YWCA Collection - Chester County History Center

WEST CHESTER YWCA COLLECTION

Collection Title: West Chester YWCA Collection

Collection Number: 233

Dates of Collection: 1957-2000, bulk 1970-1995

Box Numbers: 1 – 84

RepositoryChester County Historical Society, West Chester, PA

Language: English

Project Archivist: Maddux Pearson and Kelsey Killion, Interns; Shane Smith, Volunteer

Biography:

The West Chester chapter of the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) was founded in 1957 with the establishment of a provisional board of directors headed by Hazel Stucklen. Initially, the West Chester YWCA’s founding members approached the West Chester Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) with the goal of providing greater support for women. However, the West Chester YMCA refused to integrate their programs on the basis of sex or race; so the founding members established their own organization, the West Chester YWCA, with the belief that the West Chester community was not doing enough to meet the needs of women. As such, within its first few years, the provisional chapter established a few clubs for local women including the Y Teen Club and the Young Adult Club. It held both educational and recreational programs for women of all ages, including classes on Spanish and babysitting. Within five years, membership of the West Chester YWCA was over 200 strong. The National YWCA recognized the West Chester chapter as an official and affiliated branch in 1964. In the beginning, the West Chester YWCA was housed in a basement at 28 West Market Street. After receiving its first grant from the United Fund of Greater West Chester in 1961, the chapter moved to the Unitarian House at 401 North Franklin Street a year later. From 1968-1973 it shared a building with the West Chester YMCA on High Street. However, during those years, the YWCA’s membership dropped from 1300 to 500 members. So in 1973, the YWCA returned to Unitarian House. After a successful building fund drive in 1975, the West Chester YWCA purchased a former furniture store at 123 North Church Street. This building would be their permanent location for the remainder of their existence.


The West Chester YWCA chapter, following the lead of the national organization, became increasingly involved with the civil rights and women’s liberation movements as the 1960s progressed. In the coming decades, the chapter would take cues from the national organization’s one imperative “to thrust our collective power toward the elimination of racism wherever it exists and by any means necessary.” The West Chester YWCA actively worked to eliminate racism in its programming. It held study circles on racism, housed meetings for local minority groups such as the Hispanic Council, and founded groups such as Women for Racial Equality and Empowerment (WomenFREE).


In addition to conducting programs with the goal of eliminating racism, the West Chester YWCA continued to serve the women of West Chester by holding classes on issues pertaining to women’s health (which saw them collaborate with outside organizations like Planned Parenthood). It also established programs, such as the Mothers’ Center, the Teenage Parents Program, and the Women’s Information Network, dedicated to aiding women, especially poor minority women. The West Chester YWCA also had a Displaced Homemakers Program, which provided resources to women seeking to re-entry in the job market. On April 26, 1977, the West Chester YWCA launched their Women’s Resource Center. At the time of its founding, the Women’s Resource Center was only the program for abused/battered women in Chester County. The center ran a twenty-four-hour phone service, offered personal counseling services, held “Women in Transition” groups, and offered other programs for both female and male victims of domestic violence. All of the Women’s Resource Center services were free of charge. In 1982, the Women’s Resource Center opened a shelter for victims of domestic violence.


Other chapter programs looked to combat poverty. Their Homeshare program was dedicated to providing affordable, shared housing to the West Chester community. The West Chester branch was also a host agency for the National Caucus and Center on Black Aged Inc. Senior Employment Program. In addition to these more political programs, the West Chester YWCA continued engaging the town in recreational programs such as Saturday Scene and their popular annual Holiday House Tours.


Sources Used:
CCHS Newspaper Clippings File, YWCA Collection Holiday House Tour Series – Chester County Historical Society.
CCHS Newspaper Clippings File, YWCA Collection Program Series: Clippings, Photos, etc., “A Celebration of 20 Years in Greater West Chester” – Chester County Historical Society.
CCHS Newspaper Clippings File, YWCA Collection Politics Series – Chester County Historical Society.

Collections Scope:

The collection consists of both materials devoted to the administration of the organization and the promotion of its programs to the public. These administrative records consist of materials such as meeting minutes, financial records, election procedures, handwritten memos between staff members, and correspondences with outside organizations and individuals (with particular emphasis on those local to West Chester). Materials that document publicity include brochures, pamphlets, fliers, excerpts from advertisements in outside magazines, and drafts of the aforementioned materials.

 

This finding guide was made possible by the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Preservation Assistance Grant. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this collection guide do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Information For Researchers:

  • Access:
    This collection is open to researchers.
  • Preferred Citation:
    Item description. Box number, Folder number. West Chester YWCA Collection, MS 233, Chester County Historical Society, West Chester, PA.

Collection Arrangement:

The collection is arranged into multiple series organized by topic. The size and arrangement of each series varies based on topic. For instance, some series are divided into smaller subseries; these include the finance, program, politics, board of directors, and Women’s Resource Center series. Series, or subseries in the case of larger series, are arranged in either chronological order, alphabetical order, or thematically depending on how their contents have been labelled.
The collection is arranged in the following series:
Series I – Finance
Series II – Programs
Series III – Politics
Series IV – Holiday House Tours
Series V – Membership
Series VI – Building/Maintenance
Series VII – Board of Directors
Series VIII – Women’s Resource Center
Series IX – Correspondence
Series X – Legal
Series XI – Miscellaneous

Collections Contents:

Series I – Finance

Description: This series is divided into four subseries: development, records, insurance, and national support. The development subseries contains records related to the financial development of the West Chester YWCA. The development subseries includes items such as grant applications, proposals, and other grant records. The financial records subseries contains a variety of financial documents arranged chronically, spanning from 1961-1995, with undated materials included at the end. It includes records such as general legers, bank statements, cash disbursements, audits, treasurer reports, budgets, checks, payroll statements, and cash receipts. The insurance subseries contains insurance records. The national support subseries is arranged chronically and contains documents on the financial support the West Chester YWCA received from the national YWCA.

Finance Development, Boxes 1-7

Financial Records, Boxes 8-20

  • Box 8, 1961-1964
  • Box 9, 1965-1970
  • Box 10, 1971-1977
  • Box 11, 1978-1979
  • Box 12, 1980-1981
  • Box 13, 1982-1983
  • Box 14, 1984
  • Box 15, 1985-1986
  • Box 16, 1987-1988
  • Box 17, 1989-1990
  • Box 18, 1991-1992
  • Box 19, 1993-1994
  • Box 20, 1995, undated

Insurance, Box 21

National Support, Box 22

 

Series II – Programs

Description: This series is divided into eight subseries: ephemera, community and member programs, seasonal program offerings, fundraising, program planning and advertising, art and craft shows, Displaced Homemakers Program, and youth programs. This series also contains a box of newspaper clippings and photos.

Ephemera, Boxes 23-26

Community and Member Programs, Boxes 27-30

Fundraising, Seasonal Program Offerings, Boxes 31-32

Program Planning and Advertising, Boxes 33-36

Art and Craft Shows, Box 37

Displaced Homemakers Program, Box 38

Youth Programs, Box 39-40

Program Newspaper Clippings, Box 41

 

Series III – Politics

Description: This series is divided into five subseries: action audit, advocacy, women’s conference, world fellowship, and M.A.S conference. This series also includes photos and newspaper clippings.  

Action Audit, Box 42

Advocacy, Box 43-44

Women’s Conference, Box 45-46

World Fellowship, Box 47

M.A.S. Conference, Politics Newspaper Clippings, Box 48

 

Series IV – Holiday Kitchen and House Tours

Description: This series contains documents on the planning and promotion of the West Chester YWCA’s annual Holiday Kitchen tours and Holiday House Tours. The series spans 1970-2000, and includes undated records at the end. It is arranged chronologically. The series also includes newspaper clippings. 

Holiday Kitchen Tours and Holiday House Tours, Boxes 50-55

  • Box 49, Holiday Kitchen Tours, 1961-1964; Holiday House Tours, 1970-1983
  • Box 50, Holiday House Tours, 1984-1989
  • Box 51, Holiday House Tours, 1990-1992
  • Box 52, Holiday House Tours, 1993-1998
  • Box 53, Holiday House Tours, 1999-2000, undated
  • Box 54-55, Holiday Tours Newspaper Clippings and Ephemera

 

Series V –  Membership

Description: This series contains membership renewal letters, promotional document “why become a member,” yearly enrollment statistics, membership renewal forms, membership drive information, membership committee meeting minutes, membership enrollment schedules, and protocol for soliciting new members.

For more information on YWCA committees and the structure of the organization, see Board of Directors series VII.

Membership pt. 1, Box 56

Membership pt. 2, Box 57

 

Series VI – Building/Maintenance

Description: This series contains documents related to the operation and upkeep of the West Chester YWCA building, documents on the proposed plan to merge the West Chester YWCA and the West Chester YMCA into one shared building, and House Committee meeting minutes.

For more information on YWCA committees and the structure of the organization, see Board of Directors series VII. 

Building/Maintenance pt. 1, Box 58

Building/Maintenance pt. 2, Box 59

 

Series VII – Board of Directors

Description: This series is divided into seven subseries: records, staff/administration, nominating committee (1966-1991(?)), annual meetings (1962-1995), board of directors’ meeting minutes and agendas (1970s-1990s), committee records, and annual reports. This series also includes four binders of meeting minutes.

Board Records pt. 1, Box 60

Board Records pt. 2, Box 61

Board Records pt. 3, Box 62

Board Records pt. 4, Box 63

Staff/Administration pt. 1, Box 64

Staff/Administration pt. 2, Box 65

Nominating Committee, Box 66

Annual Meetings pt. 1, 1962-1979, Box 67

Annual Meetings pt. 2, 1980-1995, Box 68

Meeting Minutes and Agendas pt. 1, Box 69

Meeting Minutes and Agendas pt. 2, Box 70

Meeting Minutes and Agendas pt. 3, Box 71

Committee Records pt. 1, Box 72

Committee Records pt. 2, Box 73

Annual Reports pt. 1, Box 74

Annual Reports pt. 2, Box 75

 

Series VIII – Women’s Resource Center

Description: Part one contains records regarding the internal operations of the Women’s Resource Center (WRC). It includes Residence Committee minutes, Women’s Resource Center job descriptions, programs, correspondence, legal information, code of confidentiality, statistical data, newsletters, intake forms, incident reports, client follow-up forms, emergency housing policy and procedures, statement of philosophy, fact sheets, meeting minutes, and the program description. Part two contains records regarding the external operations of the Women’s Resource Center, specifically documents on the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence (PCADV). It includes PCADV reporting standards, PCADV Title XX/Act 157 allowable services, PCADV Title XX/Act 157 monthly reporting forms, PCADV audit guidelines, PCADV memos, PCADV meeting agendas, agreements between the WRC and the PCADV, records and correspondence on an autonomy statement concern between the WRC and the PCADV, records on the WRC’s separation from the YWCA and the creation of the Domestic Violence center of Chester County, etc. Most records are dated in the first half of the 1980s. Part three contains records on the financial development of the Women’s Resource Center. Part four contains financial records.     

Women’s Resource Center pt. 1 (internal operations), Box 76

Women’s Resource Center pt. 2 (external operations), Box 77

Women’s Resource Center pt. 3 (financial development), Box 78

Women’s Resource Center pt. 4 (financial records), Box 79

 

Series IX – Correspondence

Description: Three boxes of correspondence records. Arranged chronologically. Earliest folder dated 1966 and most recent folder dated 1996. There is not a folder for every year in between 1966 and 1995. Folders contain misc. correspondence. Specific correspondence records are found in other series where applicable. 

Correspondence, Boxes 80-82

 

Series X – Legal 

Description: Includes documents on the West Chester YWCA’s status as a nonprofit and charitable organization, along with papers documenting the historical development of the YWCA.

Legal, History Box 83

 

Series XI – Miscellaneous 

Description: Includes documents concerning the West Chester YWCA which did not fit into another series or which could not be otherwise organized due to resource constraints.

Miscellaneous, Box 84