Young Women's Christian Association

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Various series of minutes, 1884-1957; correspondence and subject files, 1890s-1950s; annual reports, 1862-1951; journals, 1885-1955; historical miscellanea, 1860s-1970s.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Young Women's Christian Association derived from two organisations each established in London in 1855, the YWCA (or the Prayer Union) founded by Miss Emma Robarts, and the London YWCA (or Lady Kinnaird's Homes) founded by the Hon. Mrs Arthur Kinnaird. Following the death of Miss Robarts, the two organisations united in 1877 as the Young Women's Christian Association and Institute Union. Its objectives included both the spiritual well-being of young women and practical concerns for their welfare. The organisation which developed comprised six centres (London; England and Wales; Scotland; Ireland; Foreign; Colonial and Missionary), each with its own president, secretary, heads of department and council. In 1884 a United Council was formed of representatives of each of the six executives. In 1894 the World's Young Women's Christian Association was formed and the British YWCA affiliated. The headquarters of the international organisation were initially in London but subsequently moved to Geneva. The YWCA experienced major splits in 1920 and 1924. In 1920 sixty branches seceded to form the Christian Alliance of Women and Girls and in 1924 a separate YWCA of Scotland was established.

In 1886 the YWCA formed the Nurses' Union. As a result of the development of the College of Nursing the Nurses' Union ceased to operate in 1917.

In 1912 the first YWCA Girl Guide companies were formed and within a few years an extensive network had been developed. Following disputes with Lady Baden-Powell, the YWCA's influence on Guiding waned.

The YWCA was affiliated to the Women's Interdenominational Council for Service.

Conditions Governing Access

Prior permission needed.

Archivist's Note

Listing of the archive is still in progress. An incomplete list exists in the Centre's searchroom, at the National Register of Archives and in the National Inventory of Documentary Sources series. See also the records of the Young Women's Christian Association. An authority file exists for this corporate body.

Custodial History

The Young Women's Christian Association archive was deposited in the Modern Records Centre in 1982.