YWCA of the U.S.A. records, Record Group 11. Microfilmed headquarters files
Scope and Contents
One of the goals of the YWCA of the U.S.A.’s National Association in the early 20th century was to model efficient and effective administrative procedures. To that end, it established a Central File at its headquarters to optimize sharing of information across the Association. Any records of importance to the Association as a whole were submitted for filing in the Central File. It was this Central File, consisting of Minutes and Reports, Subject Files, and Community (or "Local") Associations Files, that was microfilmed beginning in 1964.
Series 1. Predecessor organizations, and minutes and reports contains contains records of the two organizations that joined in 1906 to form the organization that is today known as the YWCA of the U.S.A., as well as minutes and reports of various groups within the YWCA of the U.S.A.
Series 2. Subject files contains the YWCA of the U.S.A.'s national subject file, also known as the "central" or "record" file.
Series 3. Local associations files record interactions between the National Association and Community Associations and Registered Groups, as well as inquiries about forming new associations. Notably, this series does not include information about student associations.
The microfilmed records include materials relevant to topics covered in every Record Group in the YWCA of the U.S.A. records. A note has been added to the finding aid for each Record Group discussing how those records do or don’t overlap with and relate to the microfilmed records.
The final set of materials filmed in 1984 (minutes and reports) contains some items dated as late as 1975, but most sections of the microfilm include records only through 1970.
Dates of Materials
- Creation: 1875-1975
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for use without restriction beyond the standard terms and conditions of Smith College Special Collections.
However, by agreement with the YWCA of the U.S.A., microdexes known to contain financial records or personal health information (usually on job applications) were not digitized and/or not published in our online repository as part of the CLIR Digitizing Hidden Collections grant. These microdexes may still be accessed on the original microfilm, and digital files may be made available to individual researchers upon request.
Conditions Governing Use
To the extent that it owns copyright, YWCA of the USA has retained copyright in its works donated to Smith College, but has has authorized Smith College Special Collections to grant permission to publish reproductions or quotations from the records on its behalf.
Copyright in other items in this collection may be held by their respective creators. For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For those few instances beyond fair use, or which may regard materials in the collection not created by YWCA of the USA, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.
759 Reels (2 partial copies, which are not identical.)
940 Gigabytes (971,757 files) : Digitized images of microfilm
Language of Materials
Record Group 11. Microfilmed headquarters files, of the YWCA of the U.S.A. records includes the records of importance to the Association as a whole, which were submitted for filing at national headquarters. It includes Minutes and Reports, Subject Files, and Community (or "Local") Associations Files, which were microfilmed and mostly destroyed as a records management strategy beginning in 1964.
The arrangement on the microfilm of the YWCA of the U.S.A. microfilmed headquarters files appears to reflect the order in which the files were maintained at National Headquarters. This structure is reflected in targets used during microfilming, and in the titles that appear in this finding aid. The targets -- sometimes separate sheets of paper, sometimes headings handwritten on the top of records -- reflect the YWCA’s filing system as it existed around 1960 and form the basis of the headings used in this finding aid (though, as explained below, there is not a 1:1 relationship between targets and headings in the finding aid).
During microfilming, each reel was divided up into numbered sections known as "Microdexes," to facilitate retrieval since individual frames were not numbered. Each target, or heading, could stretch across multiple microdexes and reels. During the automated digitization process, these microdexes, which were more consistent and easier to identify than the targets, were used to group the resulting images. Each link in the contents list of this finding aid corresponds to a single microdex.
The YWCA of the U.S.A. microfilmed headquarters files are organized in three series representing the three bodies of records that were microfilmed:
- Predecessor organizations, and minutes and reports
- Subject files
- Local associations files
Series 1. Predecessor organizations, and minutes and reports is organized in two eponymous subseries. The minutes and reports are basically, though not exactly, in alphabetical order under the name of the group that created them.
Series 2. Subject files is arranged in three alphabetical runs representing the three batches of microfilming that were performed on this set of files. The first (reels 17-160) contains materials through 1950, the second (reels 226-252) contains materials from around 1951 through 1960, and the third (reels 283-322) contains materials from around 1961 through 1970.
Series 3. Local associations files are in order by state and then usually by city or town of the actual or proposed association. There is often a "miscellaneous" section that was the first thing filmed for each state. Like Series 2, Series 3 contains three alphabetical runs, representing the three batches of microfilming this set of files underwent. The first (reels 161-222) contains materials dating through approximately 1950; the second (reels 253-277) contains materials dating from around 1951 to 1960; and the third (reels 281, and 323-345) contains materials from around 1961 to 1970.
Generally, everything within files was filmed in reverse chronological order.
Special Collections holds two copies of the YWCA of the U.S.A. microfilm records. Each set is largely the same with a few differences in renewals filmed vs. spliced. Reels 51, 52, 152, and 169 are missing from both sets. Reel 148 is missing from one set only.
Microfilm Characteristics and Quality
When the YWCA's microfilming project got underway in the 1960s, it was conceived of as a space-saving records management tool, and not as a permanent historical record for use by the general public. As a result, no preservation microfilming standards were followed and the quality of the images is often poor. Many images are too dark to read easily; in places they are out of focus or have scratches or blank areas which obscure content.
When items were filmed out of order, they were generally placed at the end of a reel, with a long blank space preceding them. Usually there was a target saying "Renewal of Microdexes" followed by the reel and microdex numbers of the related materials.
Special Collections holds two copies of the YWCA of the U.S.A. microfilm records, each of which is numbered 1 through 382. Each set is largely the same with a few differences in whether the renewals (that is, when additional items for a microdex that were filmed after the main set of materials) were spliced back into the correct microdex or not. Reels 51, 52, 152, and 169 are missing from both sets. Reel 148 is missing from one set only.
The microfilm records were digitized and described as part of a 2016-2018 CLIR Hidden Collections grant. The reels were digitized using an automated process that identified edges of pages. Due to the original quality of filming and degredation of the film over time, some frames may have been missed in the automated digitization process, and Optical Character Recognition (OCR) may not have been entirely successful. In cases where there was a microdex renewal, those frames were appended to the intended location.
History of the microfilmed headquarters files of the YWCA of the U.S.A.
The YWCA of the U.S.A. began discussing microfilming its historical records in 1948 as a way to free up much-needed space in its headquarters building in New York City. Between 1964 and 1984, the YWCA of the U.S.A. microfilmed four batches of records from its Central Files, discarding many of the original records after filming. The main exception to this rule is the Minutes and Reports, the originals for which were retained and are now filed throughout the YWCA of the U.S.A. records.
Microfilming was done in four batches between 1964 and 1984. The final set of materials filmed (minutes and reports) contains some items dated as late as 1975, but most sections of the microfilm end in 1970.
Prior to the microfilm's transfer to the Sophia Smith Collection, the YWCA of the U.S.A. would loaned its only copies of the film to researchers. As a result of this practice, reels 51, 52, 152, and 169 were lost. The lost reels included the bulk of the content related to the YWCA's work in China during the early 20th century (reels 51 and 52), as well as the pre-1950 records of some Florida Associations (Gainesville-West Palm Beach) and Georgia Associations (Albany-Brunswick) (reel 169).
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The YWCA of the U.S.A. donated a portion of its records to the Sophia Smith Collection in 1964, with significant additions in 2002 and 2003.
Existence and Location of Originals
Most of the materials that can be found in Series 1. Predecessor Organizations, and minutes and reports, were retained after microfilming and are now distributed throughout the various record groups of the YWCA of the U.S.A. records. The finding aids to each record groups include notes about the extent to which the contents of the record group include materials that were part of the microfilmed records.
The contents of Series 2. Subject files, and Series 3. Local Associations files were destroyed following microfilming, and their contents are laregly not duplicated elsewhere in the YWCA of the U.S.A. records. However, every Record Group in the YWCA of the U.S.A. records contains materials dating from the microfilm period (pre-1970) that was not transferred to the central office until after the microfilming was completed.
The contents of Series 3. Local association files, are continued by paper records organized under Record Group 8, Series IV, Subseries II, which date from 1988 to 2002.
Existence and Location of Copies
Searchable digital copies of most of the microfilmed headquarters files can be found in our online repository, and are linked at the file level in this finding aid.
However, by agreement with the YWCA of the U.S.A., microdexes containing financial records and individual health information on job applications were not digitized and/or not published in our online repository as part of the CLIR Digitizing Hidden Collections grant.
Specifically, the following microdexes were not digitized as they were identified as containing financial records early in the project:
- Roll 45, microdexes 1-4
- Roll 229, microdexes 8-11
- Roll 230, microdexes 1-6
- Roll 290, microdexes 5-9
- Roll 291, microdexes 1-11
- Roll 292, microdexes 1-3
- Roll 351, microdexes 1-2
- Roll 381, microdex 2
The following microdexes were digitized, but not added to our online repository due to containing additional finance records that were discovered after digitization:
- Reel 44, microdexes 6-8
- Reel 45, microdex 4
- Reel 46, microdex 1
- Reel 47, microdex 1-4
- Reel 46, microdex 5
- Reel 72, microdex 1
- Reel 372, microdex 15
- Reel 373, microdex 10
- Reel 371, microdex 1
Additionally, the following microdexes were digitized, but not added to our online repository due to containing individual health information on job applications that were discovered after digitization:
- Roll 72, microdex 3
- Roll 303, microdexes 4-5
Researchers may still access these files on microfilm or, in the case of the digitized items, by requesting to have the digital files sent to them directly.
Processed by Maida Goodwin, Amy Hague, Kara McClurken, and Amanda Izzo in 2008. Additional processing by Jasmine Jones, Mandy MacLeod, and Claire Marshall in 2016-2019.
- Finding aid to Record Group 11. Microfilmed headquarters files, of the the YWCA of the U.S.A. records
- Finding aid prepared by Maida Goodwin, Amy Hague, Kara McClurken, Amanda Izzo, Jasmine Jones, Mandy MacLeod, Claire Marshall, and Christie Peterson
- 2008, 2019
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Processing of the YWCA Records was made possible by the generous support of the National Historical Records and Publications Commission and the estate of Elizabeth Norris. Digitization and enhanced description of the microfilm records was made possible by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Digitizing Hidden Collections grant in 2016-2019.
- 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (https://github.com/harvard-library/archivesspace-preprocessor)
Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository
7 Neilson Drive
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