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Minneapolis YWCA records

Identifier: SW0051

Scope and Content

The Minneapolis YWCA records include general historical descriptions, board and committee minutes, annual and monthly activities reports, statistical reports, program records, newspaper clippings, print materials and ephemera, photographs, and scrapbooks containing announcements, tickets, programs and other memorabilia. The records also include a small number of films and videos.

The records document the programs and activities of the YWCA from 1891 to the 1980s, with more comprehensive, in depth coverage of programs during the 1900s through the 1940s. In some cases, demographic information on clientele and statistics on numbers of people served is also available. Topics documented in the YWCA records include recreation programs in the areas of physical fitness, camping, and athletics as well as traveler's aid, noon rest, lunch programs, and other services for working women. The records also relate to social, educational, and cultural programs, such as lectures, home economics education, teas, religious programs, holiday parties, and, in more recent records, careers and sexuality. In addition, the records document clubs, such as the Business and Industrial Girls, Young Matrons, and Girl Reserves (Y-Teens). YWCA involvement with social issues, including race relations, women's rights, and abortion, is also evident. Finally, the records contain information on the University of Minnesota chapter of the YWCA.

To a lesser extent, the records document the administration and organization of the YWCA. Administrative topics include: public relations, long range planning, development and funding, facilities, personnel, membership development, and relations with the local United Way. Coverage of both programs and administration tends to be selective and inconsistent. The materials do not provide a complete record of all YWCA departments and activities.


  • 1891-1987

Language of Materials


Use of Materials

Open for use in Social Welfare History Archives reading room.


Please contact the Archives for copyright information.


The Minneapolis Young Women's Christian Association was established in June, 1891, by a group of young women representing various Christian church organizations. The organization's aim was to provide a place for the girls and women who worked in downtown Minneapolis to rest and eat lunch. The YWCA also offered an employment service. By 1893, the facility included a gymnasium. A Traveler's Aid program, begun in 1895, helped young women coming to the city in search of work or education and also assisted many immigrant families. An industrial branch opened in north Minneapolis in 1898.

The YWCA operated in rented facilities until 1903, when it moved to a new building at 87 South Seventh Street. The land and funds to build had been provided by Mrs. W. S. Benton. Once established in these quarters, various clubs were formed, such as the South American Club, which raised funds to support a YWCA worker in Brazil. The Camp Fire Girls, Girl Reserves (later Y-Teens), Young Matrons, Business and Professional Women, and Industrial Club were also formed. Existing departments and committees expanded their programs as well. A South Town Branch opened at Bloomington and Lake Streets in 1917. In 1919, the YWCA acquired Lyman Lodge at Lake Minnetonka and used it as a camp for young girls, weekend camp for working women, and an occasional meeting place and retreat for various clubs and other YWCA groups.

In 1929, the YWCA moved again to a new building at 1130 Nicollet Avenue. During the Great Depression, the YWCA did its best to offer free activities to unemployed women and to help young women find jobs. In 1931, Traveler's Aid separated from the YWCA to become an independent agency. World War II brought a shift in emphasis from leisure-time activities to Red Cross instruction and physical fitness.

Beginning in the 1930s, the YWCA took a progressive stance with respect to racial integration and actively recruited black women for membership. It was during this period, also, that a Christian affiliation was no longer required of members. Efforts to promote racial understanding continued through the 1940s, when the Japanese Resettlement Committee helped Japanese Americans who had been relocated from the west coast. In the late 1960s and into the 1970s, programs to serve and involve the Native American and black communities sought to share those cultures through the YWCA and to combat racism in local institutions.

Throughout the 1970s, the Minneapolis YWCA became increasingly involved with other community groups and with public affairs in general, offering its support to such groups as the NAACP and the Women's Annual United Nations Rally. The YWCA strongly supported the Youth Development Project, Minnesota First Leadership Conference on Mental Health, and the Minnesota Women's Committee on Civil Rights. In conjunction with Planned Parenthood, the YWCA hosted educational sessions on abortion prior to its legalization in 1974. On the local scene, the YWCA, along with North Hennepin Community College, offered a Career Clinic for Mature Women beginning in 1975, which expanded to include five schools by 1978. The Women's Resource Center, opened by the YWCA in 1973, later became Chrysalis and operated on its own to give advice and support to women on a variety of issues. Also during the 1960s, the YWCA opened the North Suburban and South Suburban centers in Brooklyn Center and Bloomington. A new YWCA building replaced the old one at 1130 Nicollet in 1976, where it continues to offer programs and services to a diverse clientele.


32 Linear Feet


The Minneapolis YWCA records document programs for girls and young women in Minneapolis from the 1890s through the mid 1980s. Included are general historical descriptions; board and committee minutes; annual and monthly activities reports; announcements, tickets, programs and other memorabilia; newspaper clippings; and photographs.

Arrangement of the Records

The Minneapolis YWCA records are arranged in eight series:

  1. Series 1. Constitution, By-Laws, and Historical Description.
  2. Series 2. Reports and Minutes
  3. Series 3. Program Records
  4. Series 4. Administrative Records
  5. Series 5. Scrapbooks, Photographs, and Memorabilia
  6. Series 6. Audio-Visual Materials
  7. Series 7. University of Minnesota YWCA
  8. Series 8. United Way

Other Finding Aid

Unpublished inventory available. Please contact Archives for more information.

Related Material

The records of the Traveler's Aid Society of Minneapolis (SW0028)contain some materials from the period when it was under the auspices of the Minneapolis YWCA.

Minneapolis YWCA Records
David Klaassen, Susan Blackshear
1982, 2004
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Social Welfare History Archives Collecting Area