YWCA of the USA History

The YWCA was established in 1855 in London, England and the first chapter started in the United States in 1858 with the first National Board operating in 1906. In 1866 in Boston, "YWCA" was first used to describe the organization. In 1872 the first employment bureau for women was opened in New York City.

During these times there was still widespread segregation based on race and sex, and in 1889 the first branch of a YWCA for African Americans was opened in Ohio while the first YWCA for women of Native American origins was opened in 1890.

The year 1894 brought along with it the opening of the World YWCA when the United States, Sweden, Norway and England joined forces to open the organization that is now spread in more than 120 countries. In 1906 the first sex education programs and positive health concepts were included in the health programs at the YWCA.

In 1918 the YWCA sent workers overseas to help with administrative leadership to the Armed Forces of the United States. In 1944 the National Board for the YWCA appeared at the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives in support of legislation for Fair Employment Practices.

The first interracial chapter of the YWCA was adopted in 1946 at the 17th National Convention. The dining facility at the YWCA in Atlanta, Georgia opened to all African Americans in 1961 making it the city's first public dining facility that was not racist.

The YWCA board in 1983 urged Congress to enact legislation that opposed apartheid in South Africa. The YWCA was instrumental in calming the riots that took place after the acquittal of four police officers in the beating of an African American Rodney King.

In 2008 the YWCA introduced the "Own It" campaign that was focused on helping the new generation of over 22 million women between the ages of 18 and 34. Trying to get them involved with the issues they face and the issues faced by women in general in the United States in the 21st century.


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