Lycoming County Women's History Project

 

Young Women's Christian Association
YWCA Northcentral PA

Artist rendering of proposed new building

[The YWCA] "has grown out of the willingness of a few, zealous women to assume the responsibility for womankind."
- Colonel Thomas W. Lloyd, History of Lycoming County, 1929.

The Young Women's Christian Association was organized in Williamsport in 1893. According to a history written by the board president, Mrs. F. E. Manson, in 1924, it was founded "by a group of Christian women, who realized the growing needs of the girls and women of the city." Now called YWCA Northcentral PA, the organization was first known as the Girl's Friendly.

YWCA members reached out to "factory girls," who had to come to the city to work in the textile industry. They met with workers in the factories where they worked, held prayer meetings, and provided support. Later, the YWCA provided not only housing, but also a place of rest, a cafeteria for the workers, and the first day care center in Williamsport. Additionally, it offered educational and cultural opportunities for women not found elsewhere in the city. In 1918, the YWCA established the Walnut Street Branch for Negro Girls, who at that time were denied access to the main buildings.

In its early years, the Y occupied various facilities throughout the city. In 1929, after an extensive fundraising campaign, the YWCA dedicated its present building on West Fourth Street in Williamsport.

The archives include the founding documents, minutes, correspondence, photographs, newspaper clippings, newsletters, and many large scrapbooks. Patricia A. Scott, certified archivist, prepared a complete finding aid to the collection that is available here.

A sampling of material was chosen for digitization, including a 1927 brochure soliciting funds for the new building, a program for the anniversary of the founding of the Walnut Street Branch, and a brochure describing the educational classes offered in the winter of 1930.

Board members kept scrapbooks of newspaper articles about the Y activities, including this scrapbook with articles from 1924.

Two histories of the YWCA researched and written by Lycoming College history students are included in the collection. Margaret Hayden's paper, written in 1986, The Young Women's Christian Association of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, the early years covers the years from the founding to the dedication of the new building. Brenda L. Gearhart's paper, written in 1990, The Williamsport Young Women's Christian Association, a history of service to the community, covers the later years.

Want to more more about the history of the YWCA? Type "YWCA" in the search box below to find source material in the Lycoming County Women's History database.

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