Funded by the Thurston County Heritage Grant Program, the YWCA Archive Project began as a result of our desire to collect and catalog our wealth of womxn’s historical documentation and the discovery that the agency was ill-equipped to perform such to professional standards. The materials were not organized, documented, easily accessible, nor properly stored. This treasure trove of history included, but was not limited to meeting minutes [including the first set from 1945], founding documents, photographs, scrapbooks, public relations materials, artifacts, news stories, plaques, awards and more. The agency was unable to access these items with any regularity and it would be almost impossible to find many of these items as they were located in different closets, storage spaces and drawers throughout the Kearney House, home of YWCA Olympia since 1948. At the root of the project was the fact that our rich history is here but we could not access it, nor share it effectively, efficiently or with context. Our intended goals:
- Ensure the future of YWCA Olympia’s past by sharing the story of who we are, where we have come from, what we have accomplished and help define the role and share the history of womxn in Thurston County and Washington State. The Archive Project is also intended to be a critical tool in the YWCA’s 75th Anniversary Celebration in 2020.
- Ensure records’ survival, by removing constant threats and danger including environmental hazards (temperature, humidity, natural & artificial light, mold). The transfer of materials to the Washington State Historic Society (WSHS) provides both security and access to all.
- Womxn in Thurston County created herstory through YWCA Olympia. The project preserves the history and shares the story of an organization that was critical in the fight for social justice including womxn’s suffrage, civil rights, social reform, equal rights, and fair wages. By providing access to these documents, the public learns about the experiences of Thurston County womxn who shaped history, locally and globally. They reformed society, challenged government & systems, and bettered the community, a task we continue through today.
Just a few items we’ve come across….