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Elizabeth Steel Genné papers

 Collection
Identifier: SSC-MS-00605

Scope and Contents

The Elizabeth Steel Genné Papers consist of 1.75 linear ft. and are primarily related to her professional and public life, dating from 1952 to 1984. Types of materials include biographical materials, correspondence, minutes, reports, news clippings, notes, press releases, speeches, and memorabilia.

The bulk of the papers date from 1957 to 1980 when Genné was a member of the National Board of the YWCA of the U.S.A., including a term as President, 1973-79. Genné served on a number of committees examining particularly difficult issues during turbulent times for the Association from the 1960s to the early 1980s. There are significant materials generated by Genné's committee work in the College and University Division of the YWCA in the 1950s and 60s. Genné served on the influential Committee to Study YMCA-YWCA Cooperative Experience (1959-60) which worked with Professor Dan Dodson to examine whether the YWCA should merge with the YMCA. The Committee's final report, known internally as the "Dodson Report," urged the YWCA to reaffirm its role as an autonomous women's organization. There are also materials from the YWCA's Teen Sexuality Education Advisory Committee from the early 1980s.

A small amount of material from Genné's work for the YWCA on the local and state level in New Jersey is also included.

The Speeches files include texts, programs, clippings, and correspondence about local arrangements, primarily from Genné's term as President of the National YWCA. They are filed chronologically.

Dates

  • 1952-2008
  • Majority of material found within 1957-1980

Creator

Language of Materials

English

Conditions Governing Access

The papers are open to research according to the regulations of the Sophia Smith Collection without any additional restrictions.

Conditions Governing Access

Until we move into New Neilson in early 2021, collections are stored in multiple locations and may take up to 48 hours to retrieve. Researchers are strongly encouraged to contact Special Collections (specialcollections@smith.edu) at least a week in advance of any planned visits so that boxes may be retrieved for them in a timely manner.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission must be obtained to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use." Copyright ownership of Elizabeth Genné's writings is unknown. Copyright to materials authored by persons other than Elizabeth Genné may be owned by those individuals or their heirs or assigns. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights. Permission to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use" must also be obtained from the Sophia Smith Collection as owners of the physical property.

Biographical / Historical

Elizabeth Steel was born August 30, 1911 on a farm outside Albany, Oregon, to Charles and Winifred Steel. The family later moved to Portland, Oregon, where Elizabeth graduated from Washington High School. Steel's lifelong involvement in the YWCA began early at the Portland YWCA. In 1930 she attended the Christian Youth Conference of North America as President of the Portland YWCA Girl Reserve Club. There, she first met her future husband, William H. Genné.

Steel earned a B.Sc. from Oregon State College in 1935 and an M.A. from Teachers' College, Columbia University in 1936. She and William Genné were married in 1937. The couple had four children.

William Genné began a career as a college chaplain working at Michigan State University, Alfred University, and Pacific University over the next eighteen years. Meanwhile Elizabeth, who described herself as "primarily a homemaker and volunteer" worked in the Flint, Michigan, YWCA and as a teacher-counselor, teacher, staff in-service training lecturer, and Parent Education Consultant. During World War II she and her husband sponsored six interned Japanese-American students, making it possible for the students to complete college degrees.

Beginning in the 1950s the Gennés pioneered in the field of family life and sex education, working for the Clara Elizabeth Fund for Maternal Health in Flint, Michigan, and then the National Council of Churches from a home base in Montclair, New Jersey. They co-authored eight books and numerous articles and pamphlets on family life, maternal health education, and sex education. The couple also gave joint presentations and organized workshops all over the U.S. and internationally.

In each of the cities where the Gennés lived, "Betty" was active in the local YWCA, usually serving on teen, college student, or young adult committees. Once the Gennés moved to New Jersey, she also began serving on national YWCA committees. Elected to the National Board in 1957, she continued as a member of that group until 1979, including a term as National President from 1973 to 1979. She is credited with helping the YWCA to make more effective use of its human and financial resources.

In addition to her volunteer activities for the YWCA, Betty Genné was active in the PTA, Montclair Civil Rights Commission, American Association of University Women, League of Women Voters, United Council of Church Women, and UNICEF.

The Gennés retired to Claremont, California in 1984. William Genné died in 1997. Three years later Betty married Stanley Conover, who died in 2006.

Elizabeth Steel Genné died on February 29, 2008 in Claremont, California.

Extent

4 boxes (1.75 linear feet)

Overview

YWCA volunteer, Reproductive health advocate. The Elizabeth Steel Genné Papers are primarily related to her professional and public life. Types of materials include biographical materials, correspondence, minutes, reports, news clippings, notes, press releases, speeches, and memorabilia. The bulk of the papers date from 1957 to 1980 when Genné was a member of the National Board of the YWCA of the U.S.A., including a term as President, 1973-79. There are significant materials generated by Genné's committee work in the College and University Division of the YWCA in the 1950s and 60s. Genné served on the influential Committee to Study YMCA-YWCA Cooperative Experience (1959-60) which worked with Professor Dan Dodson to examine whether the YWCA should merge with the YMCA. There are also materials from the YWCA's Teen Sexuality Education Advisory Committee from the early 1980s.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Elizabeth Steel Genné Papers came to the Sophia Smith Collection with the Records of the YWCA of the U.S.A. in 2002. Elizabeth Genné donated them to the YWCA in 1984.

Related Materials

Associated material located in the YWCA USA Records, Sophia Smith Collection

Processing Information

Processed by Maida Goodwin, 2008
Title
Elizabeth Steel Genné papers
Subtitle
Finding Aid
Author
Finding aid prepared by Maida Goodwin
Date
2008
Description rules
dacs
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Sponsor
Processing of the Elizabeth Steel Genné Papers was made possible by the generous support of the National Historical Records and Publications Commission

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (https://github.com/harvard-library/archivesspace-preprocessor)
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:18-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.

Repository Details

Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository

Contact:
Young Library
4 Tyler Drive
Northampton MA 01063