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Y.W.C.A.: Brief History of Service in Times of War

In one particular the Y.W.C.A. war service of 1917 differs from that of 1942. Then the Y.W.C.A. operated hostess houses on camp grounds as well as in large manufacturing areas. Today it operates U.S.O. centers close by camps, near navy yards, and in the big industrial defense areas. Now as then, while doing its share for the men in uniform, it never forgets that its main purpose is to supply the needs of women and girls—wives and families of service men, workers in cantonment areas and in war industries, nurses and employees at military posts, and others directly affected by the emergency needs of the nation. The program included recreation; education in health, nutrition, first aid, and other essential subjects, counsel on personal problems, and spiritual guidance.Continue Reading »

Kempshall, Anna “Star” – (1891 -1961)

In 1917, four days before Christmas, and with only twenty hours notice, Miss Kempshall was dispatched by the C.O.S to assist the American Red Cross in relief work in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the site of an enormous explosion that caused death and damage to a large area surrounding the Halifax Harbor area. (Editor’s Note: On December 6, 1917, two ships collided in Halifax Harbor in Nova Scotia, Canada. One ship was loaded top to bottom with munitions and the other held relief supplies, both intended for war-torn Europe. The resulting blast flattened two towns, Halifax and Dartmouth. The toll of the Halifax Explosion was enormous with over 1,600 men, women and children killed. An additional 9,000 people were injured and 25,000 buildings spread over 325 acres were destroyed.)Continue Reading »

Family Social Service During War Time

Part of essential manpower is essential mother power. It is true that women are needed in war production, and they must go into it in great numbers, and we cannot let down for an instant. But it is also true that the production and raising of healthy children is a priority in war as in peace. It is hard to get the various programs into effective balance. We launch drives to get women, including mothers, to work in war plants, and then we launch drives to control delinquency — and all the while we know that the one strongest factor in the prevention of delinquency is the stable home. There is no doubt of the values of supervised recreation of wholesome sorts, vocational guidance, and other activities for young people, but we who are closest to families know that without strong family life you have a chronic deficiency which is difficult to overcome. It is better for children to have good parents than any vitamins we know of today. Insofar as we cannot have this, there are effective substitutes, but we need to conserve our mother power very, very carefully.Continue Reading »

Family Service During War Time

Many mothers have come to us in conflict as to whether or not to go to work. The motives may be patriotic, or desire for a more adequate income, or deeper personal urges for greater independence and release from home care. Since the absence of the mother from the home often creates serious problems of childcare, the decision is particularly crucial. We believe firmly that a mother’s care of her children is in itself an “essential industry”, but, if we are to be realistic, we know that it will not for every woman take priority over other “essential industries”. Our efforts have been to engage in a sort of “screening process”, to try to determine as promptly and soundly as possible the best solution for all concerned, to help the woman who should not work accept her homemaking role as a dignified and contributing one, and to help the mother who should work maintain all possible security for herself and her children.Continue Reading »

What Price Slum Clearance? (1953)

Background Memorandum New York State Committee On Discrimination In Housing, 1953. “The City of New York has approved plans for the displacement of at least 45,000 families within the next three years as a result of urban redevelopment, public housing projects and other public improvements such as schools, roads and port authority projects…The elimination of slums and the creation of healthy neighborhoods are necessary and worthy objectives. In the process, however, the city has certain responsibilities and obligations to the displaced families as well as the city as a whole, to see to it that social benefit for one section of the population does not result in severe hardship for others.”Continue Reading »

The Place Of Mental Health Clinics In Settlements And Neighborhood Houses

“The settlement psychiatric clinic is significantly different from that in any other setting. It not only offers a more broadly based service in prevention and treatment, but it is the one place where the clinic has the opportunity to work with the total individual in his total situation – a basic treatment principle.”Continue Reading »

Woman’s Place After the War (1944)

“Will women want to keep their jobs after the war is over?” When I asked Miss Mary Anderson of the Bureau of Women in Industry, she told me it all boils down to economic necessity. Married women usually keep their jobs only when they have real need for money at home. This, of course, does not mean that women who take up some kind of work as a career will not stay in that work if they like it, whether they are married or single.Continue Reading »

Race, Religion and Prejudice (1942)

Over and over again, I have stressed the rights of every citizen:

Equality before the law.
Equality of education.
Equality to hold a job according to his ability.
Equality of participation through the ballot in the government.Continue Reading »

American Women in the War

Besides those in uniform, over 2,300,000 of our women have gone into war industries; 1,900,000 of them are doing regular factory work. Many of these workers feel they are not being allowed to produce as much as they could. I think their dissatisfaction would be remedied if we had labor-management committees in all war industries throughout the country, so that their ideas and grievances could obtain a hearing.

Some of the married women workers are not doing their best because we haven’t taken into consideration their personal problems. Their homes must still go on. Their children must be cared for. Day nurseries are now being established, but they are not always properly organized. Sometimes they are not located conveniently for the mothers—I was told of one nursery which was five blocks from a bus stop, which meant that a woman had to walk 20 blocks every day. To a tired woman carrying a child, those blocks seem very long.Continue Reading »

USO and the YWCA

As the United States prepared to enter World War II, the general public and many leading social service agencies voiced the need for expanded social services in coordination with the U.S. military. In 1940, General George Marshall also called for social services for the military. The USO was founded in 1941 in response to a request from President Roosevelt to provide morale and recreation services to U.S. uniformed military personnel. Roosevelt was elected as its honorary chairman. Discussions among the military, the National Jewish Welfare Board, the Salvation Army, the National Board of the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), the National Council of the Young Men’s Christian Associations of the United States (YMCA), and the National Catholic Community Service resulted in the establishment of the United Service Organizations for National Defense Inc. (USO) in New York City on February 4, 1941. In the following month, the National Traveler’s Aid Association joined the organization and, thus, these groups became the six primary member agencies of the USO. Continue Reading »

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