Young Women's Christian Association, Student
Title: Young Women's
Christian Association, Student Life Records
Women's Christian Association, University of
Quantity: 6 boxes (3 linear
Collection Number: RG 38-03-02
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Historical Records Statement: Please see our statement on historical records and materials.
Preferred Citation: Y.W.C.A., Student Life Records (RG 38-03-02). Archives & Special Collections,
University of Nebraska—Lincoln Libraries.
Alternative Format: None
The Young Women's Christian Association (Y.W.C.A.) at the University of Nebraska
started in fall of 1884. The organization served as a semi-official social group and
for many years gave the only reception to new students. In 1891 the Y.W.C.A. and the
Young Men's Christian Association (Y.M.C.A.)published a handbook that was given out
to each new student at registration. Published for over 60 years, this book became
the "N book," which contained pertinent information
about the University as well as Christian Associations. The first Y.W.C.A. meetings
were held in University Hall. Then in 1908, the group moved into the Temple
Building. In September 1918, with the United States involvement in World War I the
space was needed by the Student Army Training Corps. At this point the Y.W.C.A.
moved into the Sheldon-Richards-Rickets house, later called Ellen Smith Hall. In
February 1912, women in the Agriculture College formed their own Y.W.C.A., meeting
only occasionally until the 1923-1924 school year when the group elected officers.
In the early 1920s a Y.W.C.A. interracial committee was formed with two co-chairmen,
one an African-American woman and one a white woman. Efforts were made to persuade
eating establishments in Lincoln to serve African Americans, with some success.
Another committee was the Inter-church committee, which was not only interracial,
but made up of representatives from every denomination in Lincoln, including
Protestants, Dunkards, Mennonites, Quakers, Catholics, Unitarians, and Jews. The
organization continued to broaden their interest in topics ranging from labor
conditions, sponsoring programs where young female students would get jobs in shops
and factories for the summer to learn about those of their own age who worked in
industry and to gain some knowledge of working conditions. The Y.W.C.A. also formed
an Anti-war movement, which in the early 1930s hosted a Conference on Disarmament.
The organization was instrumental in forming the International House for housing
female students of different races. The Agriculture College Y.W.C.A. organized many
mission projects abroad, including Nebraska in China.
In the mid 1940s the Y.W.C.A. again battled against segregation in University
housing, and in January 1950 two African-American students and one Hawaiian student
were allowed to live in the dorms. In the 1950s, the Y.W.C.A. the group's mission
changed from its early focus on religious and social issues to more of a women's
social club. By the 1970s the mission changed back to a focus on social issues. The
Y.W.C.A. sponsored the formation of the Association for Birth Control, the Nebraska
Organization for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NORAL) and the Women's Information
Line. In addition they held a Sex Fair, which offered birth control and veneral
disease information to all students.
Scope and Content:
The majority of the records deal with the internal workings of the Y.W.C.A. The
materials contain correspondence, minutes of meetings, fiscal records, reports, and
lists of officers. The papers also contain information on projects, circulars and
brochures, programs, and articles. There are two manuscripts: one of Norma Kidd
Green's book The First Seventy-Five Years, 1884-1959, of the
Young Women's Christian Association of the University of Nebraska and a
second by Helen Thoburn titled Grace Coppock, a Person for
Today. Also to be found is information on the 50th anniversary
celebration of the Y.W.C.A., alumni information, and scrapbooks. In July of 1957, a
rain storm resulted in the loss of all Y.W.C.A. records stored in the basement of
Ellen Smith Hall.
Young Women's Christian associations -- History
Girls -- Societies and clubs
Young Women's Christian Association (Lincoln, Neb.)
Young Women's Christian Association of the U.S.A
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