The Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) originally formed in England in 1855. In the United States the YWCA combined evangelism and pragmatic activism to provide for the physical, social, mental, and spiritual needs of young women living on their own. The organization strove to provide "wholesome" activities for women and girls living in cities and to develop civic-minded female leadership. In addition to Christian guidance, local YWCA braches offered residences, cafeterias, job training, daycare, exercise, crafts, camping, dances, and other services. By 1906 the U.S. YWCA had over 186,000 members. In 1907 it incorporated and established its headquarters in New York City. Today, YWCA branches function fairly autonomously and respond to local needs and conditions. Currently, there are nearly 300 U.S. branches serving some two million women, and there are chapters in more than 122 countries.
The YWCA of Silicon Valley was established in 1905 to provide fellowship, mutual aid, and spiritual and professional guidance to young working women. The YWCA pioneered services to poor and working women in the valley, and the YWCA continues to offer an array of educational resources and programs designed to improve the community. Today, the YWCA's slogan "Eliminating racism, Empowering women" reflects their history as a racially integrated organization that pioneered programs to serve poor and working women.
For additional information about the YWCA of Silicon Valley see "Breaking ground: the daring women of the YWCA in the Santa Clara Valley, 1905-2005" by Fran Smith.
The Digital Collection
The King Library Digital Collections will eventually include all of the photographs in the YWCA Collection, which provide visual documentation of the activities and programs sponsored by YWCA. For additional information about using images in this collection, contact the SJSU Special Collections Department.
The Physical Collection
In addition to the digitized photographs, the YWCA records document the longstanding history of the San Jose/Silicon Valley chapter. The Records of the YWCA (1905-2005) contain documents relating to the administration and evolution of the agency, materials about local clubs, programs and events, news clippings, scrapbooks and slides of YWCA clubs and programs dating from the early years of the organization. Formats include financial records, news clippings, correspondence, minute records, memoranda, photographs, printed material, registries, reports, scrapbooks, slides, and videos.
For a description of the contents of the physical collection, see the online Finding Aid.
For more information about the scope of the physical collection see the online Collection guide.