The Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) of Bellingham was founded in 1907 in Bellingham, Washington. Following preliminary meetings in 1906, the Board of Directors held its first official meeting in May 1907. The YWCA mission was to provide housing and support for girls and women in crisis, as well as the necessary resources to help them become independent and successful. The YWCA of Bellingham echoed its national counterpart’s mission statement: to develop empowered women and girls, and to combat racism.* Throughout its history, the YWCA of Bellingham has provided support for girls and women through various committees and clubs which focus on the economic, physical, and mental well-being of participants. In 2007, the YWCA of Bellingham celebrated its centennial anniversary. The occasion was commemorated through stories in local publications and an exhibit at the Whatcom Museum.
In its earliest days, members met in the Bellingham homes of the organization’s leaders, then at various locales throughout the community. That remained the case until Charles X. Larrabee donated a downtown Bellingham building for the YWCA of Bellingham in honor of his wife, Frances P. Larrabee, and their only daughter, Mary. Construction of the building was completed in 1915 and it was dedicated in March of that year.
The YWCA building is located on the corner of Maple and Forest streets and is still used as an active residence hall. It was designed by the Seattle-based architect, Carl F. Gould. Gould is also known in Bellingham for his design of Eden's Hall and the Wilson Library on the Western Washington University campus. Frances P. Larrabee was instrumental in the creation of the local organization and remained an active participant for many years.
The Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) of Bellingham records span the dates 1906-1994, with the bulk of the materials dated circa 1912-1980. The collection contains administrative, financial, and committee records, records related to local YWCA programs and activities, photographs and scrapbooks, and newspaper clippings.
Administrative records date from 1912-2007 and include articles of incorporation, bylaws, and historical information about the organization. The bulk of administrative records comprise agendas and reports from annual meetings, minutes of the YWCA of Bellingham's Board of Directors, and reports of the General Secretary. The series also contains correspondence, membership materials, and abstracts of title reflecting YWCA real estate. Historical materials include papers documenting the YWCA building's placement on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, as well as national and local (Bellingham) anniversary celebrations.
Financial records span the dates 1912-1978 and include auditor’s reports, Finance Committee materials, reports regarding the Bellingham Community Chest, and information on grants, and fundraising endeavors.
Committee records date from 1912-1981 and document the interests and work of YWCA of Bellingham standing committees. Although the bulk of these records were generated by the Health Education and Traveler's Aid Committees, they also reflect the activities of the other committees active at the YWCA building. The collection contains materials produced by the Residence, Outreach and Educational, Female Support and Advocacy Committees and others.
Records related to YWCA of Bellingham programs and activities date from 1911-1977 and contain both reference materials and records generated by the local organization. These records document issues of concern for the YWCA of Bellingham including gun control, support for women offenders, and rape relief. Program materials also document the activities of local YWCA clubs including “Bun Club,” “Y-Teens” and “Y-Wives.”
The photographs and scrapbooks span the dates 1910-1980, and include photographs of Charles X. Larrabee, donor of the YWCA building, and his wife, Frances P. Larrabee. Other photographs document YWCA of Bellingham activities and events, members and employees. A number of photographs also depict the exterior and interior of the YWCA building on Forest and Maple streets. Scrapbooks contain some photographs, but are primarily collections of newspaper clippings about organizational activities, gathered throughout the local branch’s history. There are also scrapbooks from the “Girls Reserves,” “Y-Teens,” and “Y-Wives” Clubs.
Newspaper clippings span the dates 1906-1996 and document noteworthy YWCA of Bellingham activities, events, programs, and people.
YWCA Centennial and One Hundred Years of Challenge and Change: Whatcom Women and the YWCA materials were gathered during the preparation leading up to and culmunation of both the 2007 centennial event and the subsequent publishing of Lynn Masland's book. These records consist of interviews and oral histories, photographs, publications, historical reference material, and research notes dating from 1899 to 2008. There are also digital copies of Masland's book on CD-R.
Restrictions on Access :
The collection is open to the public.Preferred Citation :
Young Women's Christian Association of Bellingham records, Center for Pacific Northwest Studies, Heritage Resources, Western Washington University, Bellingham WA 98225-9123.
The Young Women's Christian Association of Bellingham records are organized according to the following series arrangement:
Acquisition Information :
The records were donated by the YWCA of Bellingham in multiple installments first in 1979, then in 1989, and again in 2001 at which time a deed of gift was signed. Materials regarding the branch's centennial celebration were acquired in 2007.Processing Note :
Duplicates and non-archival materials were removed from the collection.Bibliography :
Detailed Description of the Collection
The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.
This collection is indexed under the following headings in the online catalog. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings.