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Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) of San Diego County Records

Identifier: MS-0396

Scope and Contents

The Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) of San Diego County Records document the YWCA's growth and evolution as a service organization for women and families from its inception in 1907 through the early 2000s. The collection comprises approximately 67 linear feet of materials including the organization’s administrative records dating from 1907 to 2006, financial records dating from 1908 to 2006, legal documents, correspondence, publicity, photographs, 35mm color slides, negatives, scrapbooks, audio and video tapes, computer software, floppy disks, CDs, and artifacts. Some administrative records are in paper and audio format. There is an extensive amount of material which documents programs, events, and conferences. The collection includes an extensive amount of photographic material documenting many of the YWCA's most important activities, including photos from the 1910s-1920s. The collection consists of six series: Historical Files, Administrative Information, Buildings/Facilities, Programs and Services, Events and Conferences, and Media and Artifactual Materials. The Historical Files (1907-2005) consist of the Index of Archives/Historical Files Directory, created by the YWCA of San Diego County. Materials in this part of the collection document the association’s attempt to create and maintain its own archive in the 1990s and early 2000s. The series includes many materials from the YWCA 's history, including founding documents and papers, materials about the central YWCA building and other facilities, and information about programs, services, and conferences. Oral history documents, correspondence, and photos from the early years of the organization are of particular interest in this series. Other interesting materials include papers and correspondence describing social activism of the YWCA of San Diego county in the 1960s (Fair Housing Act). The Historical Files mark many of the most important milestones in the history of the YWCA, but the series represents only part of the collection's historical materials. Materials in other series provide additional substantial information. The Administrative Information (1907-2006) is the collection's most extensive. Materials are further divided into 6 subseries: Board of Directors Meetings, Financial Documents, Membership Records, Publicity, Staff/Volunteers, and World and National YWCA. The series consists of records created by the San Diego YWCA’s governing and administrative bodies, such as the Board of Directors and various sub-committees. Materials include minutes, acts and resolutions, constitutions, by-laws, annual reports and statements. The Board of Directors Meetings (1907-2006) document YWCA activities and the Board's monthly meetings. They are arranged chronologically. Records from 1982-1998 are missing. The Financial Documents (1908-2006) contain ledgers, some audit reports, federal tax return records, bank documents and papers, deeds, and information about mortgage accounts and financial contributors. The Membership Records (1908-2002) consists of membership rosters for the Board of Directors and documentation about membership campaigns. The Publicity (1919-2005) subseries documents YWCA activities in promoting the organization and includes scrapbooks, magazines, newspaper clippings, and other promotional materials.  The Staff and Volunteers (1925-2003) subseries documents personnel and volunteer policies, and includes photographs and lists of staff members. The World and National YWCA (1926-2000) subseries documents the San Diego organization’s affiliation with the YWCA's national and world headquarters.   All series are filed chronologically except for the Publicity subseries, which is filed alphabetically. The Buildings and Facilities Records (1923-1991) document the downtown YWCA building campaign and building fund in the 1920s, downtown building renovations in the 1970s-1980s, and construction and remodeling of the YWCA branches in the 1930s-1990s. Included are materials about the Clay Avenue branch, North branch, and South branch. Materials are arranged alphabetically by facility name, and chronologically within each grouping. The series contains some photographic materials, including oversized framed photos. The Programs and Services Files (1908-2005) details the programs and services offered by the YWCA throughout the century, from the 1910s to the 2000s. The series documents child care, fitness, youth programs, women in leadership, domestic violence prevention, homeless services, and many others. Materials about the most ambitious YWCA of San Diego programs, such as Becky’s House, Battered Women Services, My Sister’s Closet, Women in Transition, Women Together, TWIN can be found in this series. City-wide and branch-specific programs are also included. Materials are filed alphabetically by the name of the program or service. Video materials contain promotional and educational materials about YWCA programs and services, including recordings of numerous television programs about the YWCA.  The Conferences and Events series (1919-1999) consists of materials documenting various YWCA activities included conferences, annual meetings, conventions, fundraising campaigns and rallies, anniversaries, and holiday celebrations. The series primarily consists of newspaper clippings organized in scrapbooks and photographs. They are arranged in chronological order. Of special interest are scrapbooks dated in 1919-1922 with documents and photos from the first Asilomar conferences, Y-Wives Program Scrapbook (1949-1959), "Seven Cities of Gold" fundraising event scrapbook (1955), and documents about annual meetings in the 1920s-1980s. The series contains a large body of photographic materials, many of them are unidentified. Oversized framed proclamations from 1992-2006 are also included in this series. The  Media and Artifactual Materials (1947-2003) series consists of materials in other formats documenting a variety of YWCA programs, administration, and other events. It is divided into 4 subseries: Audio Materials, Board of Directors Computer Files and Software, Video Materials, and Artifactual Materials. Floppy discs, audio and video tapes are numbered and grouped by content.  The  Audio Materials contain cassette tape recordings of Board of Directors meetings from 2001 to 2003, annual meetings, and seminars. Five audio tapes with oral history interviews are of particular interest in this subseries. The Board of Directors Computer Files contain work files from 1992-2002, backup disks, and software. The Video Materials (not dated) include promotional videos of the National YWCA, recordings of some YWCA of San Diego events, and recordings of TV Programs about YWCA services in San Diego and other U.S. cities. The final subseries contains artifacts, produced throughout the existence of the YWCA.


  • Creation: 1907-2008


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Historical Note

The Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) is the largest women’s international organization in the world, with participants in more than 90 countries and headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. There are community YWCA organizations in all 50 states, with the US national headquarters in New York, NY. The YWCA’s philosophy embraces women of all religious faiths, as well as those with none. Its programs are a combination of services and social actions, and are devoted to bringing about social change – a broadening of educational, economical and political opportunities for women of all ages and races.

The YWCA of San Diego County was founded in 1907. Some documents assert San Diego's branch was organized by Dr. Charlotte Baker, Ellen Browning Scripps, and George Marston, all important local leaders in the early 20th century. Other materials name the first two presidents, Mrs. G. Audrey Davidson (1907-1908) and Dr. Charlotte Baker (1909-1910) as founder's of San Diego's YWCA. YWCA San Diego is governed by a Board of Directors. The first documented meeting of the Board of Directors was in 1907.

In 1907 San Diego had no recreational centers, no adult education classes, and no employment bureau for women. Within a year of its founding, the local YWCA provided all of these services, and grew into a 500-member organization by 1908. From 1908 to1910 the YWCA opened the city's first cafeteria, the first employment bureau, and the first Traveler's Aid Office Bureau.

In the 1910s and 1920s, the governing body proclaimed leadership development and empowerment of women and girls as the organization’s main purpose. The YWCA was involved in many projects, including summer camps, cooperative housing for women and families, female unemployment, and others. During World War I, the YWCA was the only women’s organization of seven national organizations which were chosen by the federal government to provide aid to servicemen and their families.

In the 1930s, the YWCA San Diego instituted many new services, some in conjunction with federal relief programs, such as programs for non-working women. During World War II, the YWCA of San Diego County again concentrated its effort on providing services to Navy Personnel and defense workers, their wives and children. The YWCA staffed Hostess Houses at military bases, organizing dances and card games with servicemen. By 1944, attendance of YWCA programs averaged 25,000 a month.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, San Diego's YWCA continued to expand its services. Because of the city's growth, the YWCA established branch divisions to satisfy the needs of local neighborhoods. These branches became centers of activity in communities. They offered outreach programs, established recreational programs for teenagers, and health and physical activities. Children's and Youth programs have been expanded. There were more than 20 "Y-Teen" Clubs all over San Diego in the 1950s. South, East and San Ysidro Centers offered child care services.

The YWCA is known across San Diego for its public activism. Throughout the organization's history, the most significant and long-term programs have been designed to aid physically and emotionally abused women and their children. In the 1970s, Battered Women's Services, the first comprehensive domestic violence program, was established in San Diego. A series of state and county grants received by the San Diego YWCA in the 1970s and 1980s funded a pilot project to provide shelter and support for victims of domestic abuse. Casa de Paz, a shelter in the YWCA's downtown building, became the first shelter for victims of domestic violence and for homeless women. Many of the temporary services started in the 1970s and 1980s have grown into long-term programs.

In the 1990s, the YWCA organized the 24-hour Domestic Violence Hotline, which provided crisis intervention, counseling, and shelter placement to more than 2,500 callers each year. Since 2001, the Becky’s House Emergency Shelter, an 18-month 33-bed transitional housing program, has provided temporary housing and support services to women and children victims of domestic violence. The Becky’s House 2, an additional shelter facility with 55 beds in 14 apartments, was opened in October, 2007. The YWCA also manages PASSAGES, a two-year supportive living program, which provides single women with the resources necessary to complete transition from homelessness to independent living.

Since 2002, the YWCA has operated Cortez Hill - a 120-day transitional housing program for homeless families. More than 70 percent of individuals served by the YWCA of San Diego County's social services have been successful in finishing the YWCA's transitional program, in obtaining employment and permanent housing, and in maintaining a stable, self-sufficient lifestyle.

In 2008, The YWCA of the San Diego County celebrated its centennial. The YWCA receives some governmental funding, but it relies on the community to donate the additional funds. The organization continues to be at the forefront of providing services that respond to the needs of women and families.


35.87 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Arrangement Note

I. Historical files,  1907-2005
II. Administrative Information, 1907 - 2006
     1. Board of Directors Meetings, 1907 - 2006
     2. Financial Documents, 1908 - 2006
     3. Membership Records, 1908 - 2002
     4. Staff/Volunteers, 1925 - 2003
     5. Publicity, 1919 - 2005
     6. World and National YWCA, 1926 - 2000
III. Buildings/Facilities, 1923 - 1991
IV.  Programs and Services, 1908 - 2007
V. Conferences and Events, 1919 - 1999
VI. Media and Artifactual Materials, 1947-2003
     1. Audio Materials, 2001-2003
     2. Board of Directors Computer Files and Software, 1992-2002
     3. Video Materials, not dated
     4. Artifactual Materials, 1907-2008

Accruals and Additions

2007-020, 2008-002

Related Materials

Tish Sommers papers, 1970-1985
Older Women's League, San Diego County Records, 1947-1997
Center for Women's Studies and Services Records, 1947-1997
San Diego City Advisory Board on Women Records, 1972-1989
National Organization for Women (NOW), San Diego County Records, 1964-1984

Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) of San Diego County Records
Svetlana Kondratenko
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections & University Archives Repository

5500 Campanile Dr. MC 8050
San Diego CA 92182-8050 US