The Oberlin YWCA was formed in 1894, when Lucy Wilson (1862-1925)
led a group of young women to request the leadership of the weekly
prayer meeting. This role formerly had been left to the dean of
women. Three years later, Florence Fitch (1875-1951) directed Oberlin
into the national Young Womens Christian Association (YWCA) movement.
The governance of the YWCA rested with an elected executive board
and with committees responsible for various activities. The YWCA
reported to the Womens Board and an advisory board. The latter
was composed mainly of female faculty members and wives of faculty
members. By 1904, a general secretary was hired to handle the administrative
tasks, of the organization.
During the next 70 years the YWCA was active in many town and
College activities. Over the years the YWCA worked with the YMCA
on many social functions. Although during its early years membership
was restricted to women who had an evangelical-church background,
in the late 1920s the YWCA opened membership to any woman of Christian
faith. The membership was consistently large and peaked in 1945
with 706 women. By 1953 the YWCA had developed five commissions
to oversee the various functions of the organization: Religious
Emphasis, Campus Life, Community Service, Public Affairs, and Publicity.
With the closing of the Graduate School of Theology, the YWCA and
YMCA took on the responsibility of religious life at Oberlin. During
President Robert K. Carrs administration, the board of trustees
expanded religious activities on campus and established an Office
of Chaplains, which among other responsibilities, oversaw the YWCA.
In 1973 the YMCA/YWCA became defunct.
Scope and Content
The collection documents the purpose and activities of the YWCA.
Among the minutes of the organization are those of the advisory
board (1928-1944, 1958-1961) and those of the cabinet and executive
meetings (1941-l958). Included in the reports are the annual reports
of the Oberlin YWCA, 1923-1929, 1944-1947; reports of the president,
1941-1955; reports of the executive secretary, 1941-1950, 1961-1962;
the treasurers reports and budgets, 1938-1957; and the reports
of the advisory board, 1940-1942. Financial records also exist for
1899- 1904. Among the compiled lists is a membership list of advisory
board, 1954-1960; and statistical data on membership for virtually
the groups entire history.