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Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) Muncie records and photographs

Identifier: MSS-106

Scope and Contents

This collection includes minutes, reports, constitutions, contracts, correspondence, financial records, historical manuscripts, newspaper clippings, membership records, office diaries, Phyllis Wheatley Branch records, subject files, scrapbooks, and other materials from the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) in Muncie, Indiana ranging from 1911 to 2013 regarding the administration of the YWCA, YWCA events and activities, and social issues addressed by the YWCA.


  • Creation: 1911-2013

Conditions Governing Access

Separated materials are restricted. Contact the repository for more information.

Conditions Governing Use

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Archives and Special Collections, Ball State University Libraries, Muncie, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Archives and Special Collections.

Administrative History

In the mid-nineteenth century the idea of formatting associations to deal with the problems of unmarried young women through the application of Christian principles grew simultaneously in England, Germany and Switzerland. In England, the Prayer Union was started by Miss Emma Robarts in 1855 and the General Female Training Institute was founded the same year by the Honorable Mrs. Arthur Kinnaird. The latter group was organized primarily to provide a home for nurses returning from the Crimean War. In 1877 the two organizations combined their resources to deal with the changing role of young women, many of whom were seeking employment in the cities and who needed support and protection in their new environment.

While there is no clear line of connection between the beginnings of Association work in England and its beginnings in America, Mrs. Marshal O. Roberts formed a Union Prayer Circle in New York City in February 1858, which soon changed its name to the Ladies Christian Association with the stated objective to “labor for the temporal, moral, and religious welfare of young women who are dependent on their own exertions for support.” The religious revival in the eastern part of the United States in 1857 and 1858 did much to break down denominational lines and enabled the Association to make strides in setting up a type of interdenominational boarding house with the average capacity of fifty, where young women had access to bible classes, prayer meetings, as well as help with finding employment and training in new occupations.

By 1868 the Association idea had spread to other major cities. By 1875, there were twenty-eight such Associations across the United States, their common goal to provide the influence and protection of a Christian home for women and girls who had left their own homes to come to the cities in order to be self-supporting.

In Muncie, Indiana, the movement got its start in the fall of 1910 at the home of Mrs. A.L. Johnson. Mrs. Johnson, along with Mrs. Don Davis, Mrs. Ray P. Johnson and Rev. Daisy Barr, pastor to the Friends Church, continued hosting these meetings until a general meeting was called at the Friends Church in October 1911. The group first called themselves the Young Women’s Social and Betterment Association, but on December 21, 1911, 17 Muncie women met and organized a Board for a Young Women’s Christian Association. The YWCA established its first headquarters in three rooms on the second floor of a furniture store owned by Mr. Clyde Whitehill on East Main Street. The central room was used for formal meetings and discussions. A second room contained a small gymnasium, and the third room was operated as a cafeteria by Miss Belle Thomas, who provided local working girls with a noon meal for 15 cents. Soon classes were offered in dressmaking and first aid. Later, a barn on the property was remodeled into a larger gym where the girls practiced games and exercises under the guidance of Mrs. Charles Gill. Camping became one of the favorite activities of the YWCA, leading to the establishment of a camp site on Tri Lakes, a gift from Mr. and Mrs. Logan Staples of Columbia City. Mr. & Mrs. G.A. Ball provided a lodge and Mrs. J.M Maring furnished it.

In 1911 a building fund drive raised over $200,000, but plans for a new building had to be sidetracked by the outbreak of WWI. After the war, the original plans were changed radically to include a swimming pool. To augment the building fund, Ball Brothers presented the YWCA with a permanent endowment fund of $100,000. Other Muncie residents raised another $100,000. Ground was broken on December 14, 1925 and the completed structure, which is still in use, was dedicated October 9, 1927.

In 1919, a group of 16 African American girls organized the Phyllis Wheatley branch of the YWCA under the leadership of Mrs. Bell Coleman and Mrs. Nettye Riffe. The Wheatley Branch was located at 1301 E. 1st Street. The building in which it was housed was also a gift from the Ball Brothers. With the advent of the 1960s civil rights movement, branches were desegregated.


18 Cubic Feet (15 boxes)

Language of Materials


Custodial History

This collection was received by Archives and Special Collections as a donation on 1989/05/26 from Dorothy Danner. Additions received 2007/02 from unknown; and 2009/03/02 from Linda S. Barb.


No further additions are expected.

Processing Information

Finding aid revised 2010/01/12 by Jennifer Morrill. EAD finding aid completed 2012/04/25 by Lisa Barney. EAD finding aid revised 2012/10/01 by Bethany Fiechter. EAD finding aid revised 2016/05/20 by Lindsey M. Vesperry.

Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) Muncie records and photographs
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Repository Details

Part of the Stoeckel Archives of Local History Repository

Alexander M. Bracken Library
2000 W. University Avenue
Muncie Indiana 47306 USA