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Y.W.C.A. (Little Rock) Papers, 1911-1990

Y.W.C.A. (Little Rock) Papers, 1911-1990

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Y.W.C.A. (Little Rock) Papers, 1911-1990 UALR.MS.0184

UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture
401 President Clinton Avenue
Little Rock, AR, 72201

Profile Description

Creation: This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit 2015-06-03T10:07-0500

Repository: UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture
Title: Y.W.C.A. (Little Rock) Papers, 1911-1990
Dates: 1911-1990
Quantity: 9.0 linear feet; 12 document boxes and 1 flat box
Identification: UALR.MS.0184

Arrangement note

Administrative documents, including board minutes and other items; Agnes Loewer files; financial records; reports and programs; scrapbooks; printed materials; CETA materials; and oversize.

Scope and Content

This collection contains the papers of the Young Women's Christian Asssociation of Little Rock, Arkansas, including board minutes, reports, photographs, financial papers, and other materials. The collection contains some material concerning African American membership in the 1920s. Also included are files kept by Agnes Loewer (1893-1975), the president of the Y.W.C.A. in Little Rock, and papers concerning the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act, which became law in 1973.

Historical Note (courtesy of Cherisse Jones-Branch, Arkansas State University)

The Young Women's Christian Association (Y.W.C.A.) was created in 1858, a sister organization of the slightly older Young Men's Christian Association, which was started in 1844 in London, England. The Y.W.C.A. was a product of the gymnasium movement that became popular in Germany and Europe in the nineteenth century, which urged young people to pursue physical and intellectual improvement simultaneously.

The Little Rock Y.W.C.A. was begun in November of 1911. Founded by Mery Omily Hall, Laura Bunch, Clara Lenon, and Nellie Dooley, its facilities were located at Scott and 4th Street. The goal of the Y.W.C.A. was to provide women with access to education, jobs, housing, and recreation, offering courses in foreign language instruction as well as sewing, health, and physical education. Being a Christian organization, the Y.W.C.A. also promoted religious teachings, including Bible study and attending services at the Y.W.C.A. facilities. In accordance with Jim Crow law, the Little Rock Y.W.C.A. was closed to African Americans.

Nevertheless, in 1921, black leaders in Little Rock opened the Phyllis Wheatley branch of the Y.W.C.A. Named after a black eighteenth century poet who had been born a slave, it was led by Alice Meaddough, Elizabeth S. Thornton, and Amelia Bradford. The facility was located at 10th and Gaines Streets and was organized exclusively for local African Americans, who had been barred from the white Y.W.C.A. However, like their white counterparts, black women at the Phyllis Wheatley branch emphasized religious instruction, physical betterment, and practical education. In their first few years at Phyllis Wheatley, members helped build the Thomas C. McRae Sanatorium for black patients suffering from tuberculosis and housed refugees during the devastating 1927 Mississippi River flood. In 1971, the Wheatley branch was absorbed into the large Central Y.W.C.A.

As of February 2014, the only Y.W.C.A. still in operation in Arkansas is the Bess Chisum Stephens Community Center, located on Cleveland Street in west Little Rock.

African Americans--Arkansas--History
Loewer, Agnes McDaniel, 1893-1975
United States. Comprehensive Employment and Training Act.
Women--Arkansas--History--20th century
Young Women's Christian Association (Little Rock, Ark.).


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is available for viewing at the Arkansas Studies Institute.

Conditions Governing Use note

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17-U.S. Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. The person using this material is liable for any infringement.

Copyright for correspondence in the collections belongs to those correspondents or their beneficiaries. Persons wanting to re-use those materials are advised to obtain permission from copyright holders.

Administrative Information

Citation Notes

Bibliographic citation:

Y.W.C.A. (Little Rock) Papers, UALR.MS.0184. UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture, Arkansas Studies Institute, Little Rock.

Footnote or Endnote info:

Description of item, box number, and folder number, Y.W.C.A. (Little Rock Papers), UALR.MS.0184.

Processing Information note

Completed by Colin Woodward, Ph.D., C.A., 2014.

Related Material

Agnes McDaniel Loewer Papers, 1919-1972, Arkansas History Commission.

The Y.W.C.A. of the U.S.A Records, 1860-2002, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College.

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