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The Special Collections is located on the east side of the Library at the front of the 3rd floor.

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Patricia W. & J. Douglas Perry Library
Norfolk, Virginia 23529-0256
telephone (757) 683-5350
fax (757) 683-5954


The Papers of the YWCA of Hampton Roads

Scope and Contents - Series Descriptions - Access - Container Listing

Historical Sketch

The YWCA (Young Women's Christian Association) is the oldest and largest women's membership association. It began in London in 1855, and first came to the U.S. in 1858. Although similar in name, the YWCA has no affiliation with the YMCA. The YWCA was an independent movement that arose out of Women's church groups as a way of making life better for other women. These first YWCA's provided boarding houses, skills training, recreation, and a social environment for single, working women. After World War II, the YWCA's emphasis shifted to the family -- mother and children. In 1946, the YWCA adopted an Interracial Charter. Its purpose became the empowerment of women and the elimination of racism.

The YWCA of South Hampton Roads started as housing for working girls in 1893. In 1908, the Phyllis Wheatley Branch of the YWCA of Norfolk began as an association of African American Women. The branch was named after a black poet woman who lived during the time of the Revolutionary War. Another YWCA started in Norfolk in 1911. This chapter had a residence for single women, and offered classes in cooking, stenography, Bible studies, typing, and gymnastics. It also had a cafeteria and a reading room. In 1925, the two branches came together. Then, in the 1950's a Virginia Beach branch was created. Over the years, many splits and mergers have occurred in the YWCA's of Hampton Roads. Throughout their history, the YWCA chapters of Hampton Roads have created many institutions in the community. Camp Owaissa, Camp E. W. Young, and various day camps have provided summer recreation for young girls. The Norfolk YWCA ran a cafeteria on West Freemason for many years. The YWCA has hosted women's shelters including the Phyllis Wheatley House, the Wilkshaw, and undisclosed battered women's shelters.

Other YWCA programs have included the Winners Dinners where women of achievement have been recognized, Y-Prep and Y-Teens for young and adolescent girls, Black History Month, the Women in Crisis Program for victims of domestic violence, the Women in Transition Program to help economically disadvantaged women find employment or gain job skills, and Ladies Day Out workshops and fashion shows.

In addition to these, the YWCA of Hampton Roads has held and continues to hold a wide variety of programs for women of all ages and backgrounds. They offer classes, workshops, and training; fashion and talent shows; retreats; conventions; political events, achievement and award dinners, services and shelter for battered and abused women and children; and a variety of youth programs.

Scope and Contents

The majority of this collection consists of photos, scrapbooks of newspaper clippings, and loose newspaper clippings. The context of many of the photos and some of the articles is unknown or questionable. Also included in this collection are documents relating YWCA facts, history, meeting minutes, activities, correspondence, as well as brochures, booklets, flyers, and similar materials.

Series Descriptions

This collection is broken down into the following series: I. Information and History; II. Newspaper Clippings; III. Photos; and IV: Artifacts.

Series I: Information and History. This series contains documents related to YWCA. Information includes YWCA history, facts, and purpose; a 1950 Charter; a guide for participation in the 1960's; a report on financial statements in 1987; an address list; newsletters; membership recruitment guide; meeting minutes; correspondence from 1990-92 and 1996; information, flyers, and invitations for the Annual Winners Dinner 1993-96; Teen Recognition Dinner and Summit 1992-93; Women in Transition; 1960's Ladies Day Out; Black History Month; 1970's events; Annual Report of Residence for the Wilshaw in 1946; Domestic Violence guides and pamphlets; 1992-93 Legislative Wrap Up; Samaritan House; Tidewater Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW); and other documents.

Series II: Newspaper Clippings. This series contains loose newspaper articles and clippings. Topics include pregnancy; women's success stories; racial violence in 1960, YWCA Bible courses; dedication of the Phyllis Wheatley YWCA building; Sunday at the Y program; Obituary of Mrs. Annie Tucker Hitchens; Camp Owaissa; YWCA events; profiles of women; new arrival announcements; and other articles related to the YWCA. Dates of articles range from the 1910's to the 1990's.

Series III: Photos. This series is divided into twelve sub-series of photos. Sub-series A: Youth Photos; B: Dinners; C: Holidays and Birthdays; D. Women, Staff, and Volunteer Photos; E. Sports and Fitness; F: Events; G: Political; H: Meetings; I: Training, Team Building, Retreats, and Conferences; J: Other Titled Photos; K: Miscellaneous/Dated Slides, Photos, Negatives; and L: Miscellaneous/Undated Slides, Photos, Negatives.

Sub-series A: Youth Photos. This sub-series contains photos of before and after school programs including Camp Owaissa and Camp E. W. Young; Y-Teens; Y-Nots; Teen Awards; Teen dinners, conventions, and events; school photos, and various photos of children. The dates of these photos range from the 1920's to the 1980's. Several of these photos are of unknown date.

Sub-series B: Dinners. This sub-series includes photos of various YWCA dinner events including Annual Dinner Meetings and Winner's Dinners. The majority of these photos are from 1993 to 1996, with some photos from the 1960's.

Sub-series C: Holidays and Birthdays. This sub-series includes holiday and birthday photos including Easter events, Christmas parties, and the YWCA 135th Birthday Celebration. The dates of these photos ranges in the 1980's and 1990's, with some photos of unknown dates. Of note is the picture of Janet Reno at the YWCA Birthday Celebration.

Sub-series D: Women, Staff, and Volunteer Photos. This sub-series includes photos of individual women such as Sandy Batchelor, Laura or Ann Bowles, Barbara Ciara, Betty Howell, Helen Hazell Moore, and Dr. Lucy Wilson; photos of YWCA Officers, Phyllis Wheatley Staff, and Employees; and photos of Women at Work. The dates of these photos range from the 1960's to the 1990's with several undated photos.

Sub-series E: Sports and Fitness. This sub-series includes photos of the Red Cross Swimming Class, Gym photos, Tennis Photos, and the Lady Monarchs. Dates range from the 1960's, 1970's, and 1990's.

Sub-series F: Events. This sub-series includes photos of the Thursday Club, Ladies Day Out, Leisure Hour, Talent and Fashion Shows, and various other YWCA events. Dates of photos range from 1961 to 1996, with several undated photos.

Sub-series G: Political. This sub-series includes civil rights photos, voter registration 1964, photos of a vigil, and Chuck Robb photos 1982.

Sub-series H: Meetings. This sub-series includes photos from various meetings including award meetings, membership meetings, and STOP. The majority of these photos are from the 1980's and 1990's, with some from 1967. Other photos are undated. Of particular note are the photos of Virginia Beach Mayor Myera Obendorf at the opening of the Little Neck Road Center.

Sub-series I: Training, Team Building, Retreats, and Conferences. This sub-series includes photos of the 1965 Va. State Conference, World Fellowship Conference, Leadership and Retreat Photos, "What a Team" slides, workshops and training, and the YWCA Triennial Convention. Dates of photos range from 1965 to 1996 with some undated photos.

Sub-series J: Other Titled Photos. This sub-series includes group and house photos, Women in Crisis, Church Women United, Diocese of Southern Va., photocopies of the YWCA Headquarters, and various other photos. Dates of these photos range from the 1960's to the 1990's. Many photos are not dated or their dates are questionable.

Sub-series K: Miscellaneous / Dated Photos. This sub-series includes various dated, but untitled photos from the 1960's to the 1990's.

Sub-series L: Miscellaneous / Undated Slides, Photos, Negatives. This sub-series includes several folders of various slides, photos, and negatives. The dates, places, and contexts of these are unknown.

Series IV: Artifacts. This sub-series consists mainly of scrapbooks. These scrapbooks contain newspaper clippings, flyers, photos, and slides. Clippings range in dates from as early as 1919 continue up until the 1990's. Some articles are undated. Topics include YWCA conferences; Camp Owaissa; Ladies Day Out; new YWCA director and officer announcements, retirements, and resignations; various calendar events and meeting schedules; Y-Teens; the Community Chest Drive; "Y" book reviews; dinners and luncheons; speakers; news profiles of women; classes, workshops, and projects; speakers; World Fellowship Week; Open Houses; membership; wedding announcements; YWCA buildings; teen etiquette; the Southeastern Tidewater Opportunity Project (STOP); after school study programs; women's basketball; the YWCA cafeteria; Fashion shows; Tidewater Rape Information Service, emergency services, and battered women's shelter; National Organization for Women (NOW); Black Heritage Awareness Day; Youth Festival; Domestic Violence Awareness Week; and other YWCA activities

Of particular historical note are the articles on "Business Girls Role in the War" and Women's Role in Defense, School Integration and the U.S. educational system, the Christian Church as a weapon against Communism, Interracial talks on job opportunities, a bans on high heel shoes and short skirts, and a League of Women Voters project to identify barriers that inhibit minority participation in elections.


Gift from The Norfolk YWCA, August 2000


Open to researchers without restrictions. Questions on literary property rights should be directed to the Special Collections Librarian.


13 Hollinger Boxes and 26 Oversize Boxes

Revised: 7/14/08