A Guide to the Records of
The Reno-Sparks YWCA
Collection No. 94-53

The Reno-Sparks Young Women’s Christian Association

The YWCA began in England about 1860 when a boarding home was opened in London to provide respectable housing for the many nurses returning from the Crimean War.

The American YWCA originated in Boston 1866. Several women decided to form an organization whose object was the “temporal, moral, and religious welfare of young women who are dependent on their own exertions for support.” The group hired a secretary to find suitable boarding places for girls, to secure positions for them, to be their counselor and to help them combat the loneliness of new surroundings. They called themselves the Young Women’s Christian Association.

The first YWCA program in Reno was the Young Women’s Christian Association (University of Nevada, Reno), also known as the Campus Y. It was organized on March 25, 1898 and became a charter member of the National YWCA in 1906. The Campus Y was very active at the University but with the construction of a student union in 1958 and a cessation of United Fund monies its membership declined. By 1974/75 it was no longer recognized as a university organization.

Reno’s YWCA was organized on March 22, 1920 with over 350 founding members. Headquarters were in the basement of Reno’s City Hall; the rent was free. Several clubs for girls and young women such as the Business Girls’ League and the Girl Reserves were initiated.

Within the first ten years of the Y’s founding, several properties at Zephyr Cove and Carnelian Bay, Lake Tahoe, were donated for use as summer camps. The property at Zephyr Cove, called Camp Ney-A-Ti was fully developed and outdoor summer recreational opportunities were offered.

By the summer of 1937 the YWCA began teaching arts and crafts in the City Hall basement. During World War II, weekend recreation rooms were opened to servicemen until 1943, when the City asked the Y to find new quarters.

A house and lot on the northeast corner of Stevenson and West First Street (339 W. 1st St.) were purchased in 1944. There the YWCA offered a service to help women find places to live and work, classes, and recreation. Gradually the building was expanded with an auditorium and gymnasium.

New facilities were desperately needed by 1959. A site was selected at the corner of Highland Terrace and Valley Road and the architectural firm of DeLongchamps and O’Brien was engaged. A major capital campaign was held, the Lake Tahoe property was sold to the Presbyterian Conference of California, the Y building on West First Street was sold, and a generous grant was awarded by the Fleischmann Foundation. Ground breaking was held on December 9, 1964 and the building occupied in July of 1965.

Between 1951-1960, serious consideration was given to forming a joint YMCA and YWCA. The motion was, in the long run, defeated.

Known initially as the Reno YWCA, the name was changed in 1964 to reflect its new location between two cities. The Reno YWCA became the Reno-Sparks Young Women’s Christian Association.

Today the YWCA offers a great variety of services to its members and the community: classes, recreational opportunities, child care, and women’s support serves are some examples. In later years the Y has suffered financial difficulties and been forced to scale back its operations. In 1997 the Reno City Council agreed to buy the property and allow the Y to continue its operations as a much needed center of community services and activities.

The Reno-Sparks YWCA celebrated its 75th anniversary in 1995. To mark the occasion Victoria Ford was commissioned to write the Y’s history. A copy of the manuscript, titled “Making Their Mark: Reno/Sparks YWCA History,” as yet unpublished in 1997, is included in the collections of the Special Collections Department as collection 96-04. In addition to providing a history of the Y, this work offers oral histories of women who have made significant contributions to the Y.


Scope and Content

The bulk of the records of the YWCA were donated to the Special Collections Department in 1994. Additional accessions have been received since then. Currently the collection consists of five cubic feet of materials, dating from 1919-1996. There are no restrictions on access to the collection.

Records of the Reno-Sparks YWCA include minutes, yearly and special reports, correspondence, strategic plans and policies, organizational histories, program documentation, scrapbooks, clippings, and photographs. Loose photographs, photographic albums and album pages have been transferred to the photo archives of the Department as collection P97-55.

Researchers are fortunate to have available numerous sets of minutes of meetings of the board of trustees, beginning in 1927 and continuing until 1965 (subsequent minutes remain in the offices of the YWCA). The collection also contains minutes and financial records of Camp Nay-a-ti, the Y’s summer camp at Zephyr Cove, Lake Tahoe; and minutes of the Young Wives’ Club (also known as the Merry Weds).

Papers which are useful in documenting the administration of the Y are executive director reports, 1920-1946; and many annual reports for scattered years between 1925-1993. Annual reports were compiled by the president of the board of trustees and provide detailed assessments of yearly activities, programs, and financial status. Executive director reports provide much the same kind of information.

This collection contains a substantial number of scrapbooks of newspaper clippings and photographs. They document the Y’s facilities, programs, personnel, and members.

The YWCA has known three homes in Reno since 1920: the basement of Reno City Hall, 339 W. 1st Street; and their current location, 1301 Valley Road, at the corner of Valley and Highland Roads. Legal documents, reports, deeds, programs, photographs, and clippings document those sites and the frequent struggles to balance the need for programs, the limitations of building size, and the shortage of funds.

During its 77 year existence the Y has offered many types of programs for its members and the community. The collection contains materials that describe some of those programs, including brochures, programs, schedules, calendars, and program reports, clippings, and photographs.

The records of the Campus Y are in the University Archives of the University of Nevada, Reno (Archives Collection AC0349). The records date from 1960-1974; a guide to their use is available.

Guide revised:  October 2007.


The records of the Reno-Sparks YWCA have been divided into the following series:

Series I. Administrative

  1. Minutes
  2. Reports
    1. Annual
    2. Executive Director
  3. Correspondence
  4. Financial
  5. Legal
  6. Newsletters

Series II. Policy, Strategic Plans, History

  1. Strategic Plans, Policies
  2. Proposed YWCA and YMCA Merger
  3. History of the YWCA

Series III. Physical Plant

Series IV. Programs

Series V.  Scrapbooks, Clippings, Photos, and Misc.


94-53/I Series I.             Administrative.             1919-1995.      1.3 cu. ft.

Series I is important because of the extensive details provided on the Y’s founding, organization, and administration. Minutes of board meetings and annual reports are especially useful for this purpose, especially the annual reports which date to the organizational period of 1919.

This series has been further divided into subseries: minutes, reports, correspondence, financial, legal, and newsletters. Each subseries is arranged chronologically.

Box 1

I/1        Series I, Subseries 1: Minutes.

I/1/1 Minutes, Board of Trustees. 1927-1928
I/1/2 Minutes, Board of Trustees. 1928-1929.
I/1/3 Minute book, Cabinet meetings. 1936-1944.
I/1/4 Minutes, Board of Trustees. 1944-1950.
I/1/5 Minutes, audit, list of Board of Directors. 1947, 1948, 1954.
I/1/6 Minutes and correspondence, Board of Trustees. 1958­1965.
I/1/7 Minutes, Board of Trustees. Jan. 1965.
I/1/8-15 Minutes, Board of Directors. 1940-1959. This set of minutes was originally bound together in a binder.
I/1/16 Minute and receipt book, Camp Nay-A-Ti. 1930-1946.
I/1/17 Minutes, Young Wives Club [also known as the merry Weds] . April 6, 1950-Sept. 23, 1952.

I/2        Series I, Subseries 2: Reports.

I/2/1     Series I, Subseries 2, Sub-subseries 1: Annual Reports.
I/2/1/1 Annual reports. 1925-1926.
I/2/1/2 Annual reports and meetings. 1938-1945.
I/2/1/3Annual report. 1947.
I/2/1/4Annual reports. 1992, 1993.
I/2/1/5Annual report. 1993.
I/2/2     Series I, Subseries 2, Sub-subseries 2: Executive Director Reports.
I/2/2/1 Executive Director reports. 1920-1930.
I/2/2/2Executive Director reports. 1930-1940.
I/2/2/3Executive Director reports. 1940-1946.
I/2/2/4Reports of the President. 1967, 1969.

I/3        Series 1, Subseries 3: Correspondence.

Box 2

I/3/1-2 Memos from Program Director.  1987.
I/3/3-4Correspondence. 1993-1994.

I/4        Series 1, Subseries 4: Financial.

I/4/1Financial reports. 1919-1930.
I/4/2Campaign [financial] records. 1920-1932.
I/4/3Income/expense statement. 1992.
I/4/4United Way application.  1994.
I/4/5YWCA instructors’ pay scales. 1993-1995.

I/5        Series 1, Subseries 5: Legal.

I/5/1 Legal agreement with Washoe High School. 1986.

I/6        Series 1, Subseries 6: Newsletters.

I/6/1Newsletters and newsletter correspondence. 1981; 1993.


94-53/II             Series II.           Policy, Strategic Plans, History. 1928-1994.     0.5 cu. ft.

This series explores the overall strategic plans for the Y’s operations and its history. Included also are reports and minutes of the local committee which considered a national plan to combine the YWCA and the YMCA; a plan which was eventually defeated in 1960 or 1961. The history subseries includes an excellent, detailed history of the Reno-Sparks YWCA, written in 1944 by Mrs. Parker Liddell, based on minutes and reports now included in this collection.

Box 2

II/1       Series II,  Subseries 1: Strategic Plans, Policies.

II/1/1 Lesson plans for meetings. 1928.
II/1/2Digest of responsibilities [handbook]. [1964].
II/1/3Digests of responsibilities. 1969.
II/1/4“Creating the Future: Strategic Plan for YWCA, 1988­1998.”
II/1/5YWCA mission statement, policies.  1991-1994.
II/1/6Work plans and expenses. 1992-1993.

II/2       Series II,  Subseries 2: Proposed YWCA and YMCA Merger.

II/2/1 Report on proposed merger of YMCA and YWCA.  [1960].
II/2/2-3Minutes, correspondence, Joint YMCA-YWCA Committee. 1951; 1957-1960.

II/3       Series II,  Subseries 3: Histories of the YWCA.

II/3/1a-c “History of the Reno-Sparks YWCA” by Mrs. Parker Liddell. 1944 and two other versions with updates to 1965 and 1973.
II/3/2“From Deep Roots The Story of the YWCA’s Religious Dimensions” by Frances Helen Mains and Grace Loucks Elliot. 1974.
II/3/3“Translating Global Concern into Local Community Programs: Women’s Mid-Decade Dialogue.” 1983.
II/3/4“The Story of the YWCA.” 1992.
II/3/5“Women First for 135 Years: 1858-1993.” Exhibition catalog.


94-53/III             Series III.             Physical Plant. 1943-1976.      0.3 cu. ft.

Series IV contains documents related to two of the homes of the YWCA: their house on West First Street and their current location at Valley Road and Highland Terrace. Included are deeds, plans, dedication programs, architects’ proposals, and equipment inventories. Other documentation about the Valley Road building can be found in a scrapbook related to the planning, construction, and use of 1301 Valley Road.

Box 2

III/1 House Dedication Committee and deed, 339 W. 1st St. 1943-1945.
III/2Valley Road facility.
III/3-4Valley Road facility architects’ proposals.
III/5Valley Road Facility Building Committee (Mary Margaret Barrett).
III/6Inventory of equipment and supplies. 1965-1970; 1974-­1976.
III/7Program: Cornerstone and dedication ceremony of 1301 Valley Rd.  Sept. 18, 1965.


93-54/IV             Series IV.           Programs. 1961-1994.        1 cu. ft.

This series contains guidelines for program planning; reports of participation; and fliers, class schedules, and event programs such as annual luncheons and dinners. Reports and guidelines have been placed at the first part of the series, followed by materials about specific programs, which are arranged alphabetically by program title.

Box 3

IV/1 Annual reports of participation statistics. 1979-1981.
IV/2aProgram reports. 1993.
IV/2bProgram proposals, facilitation packets.  1994.
IV/3Annual luncheon programs. 1971-1994.
IV/4Annual meeting and dinner programs. 1961-1992.
IV/5Calendar/schedule of classes. ca. 1965-1994.
IV/6Catalog - Heartbeats. 1993-1994.
IV/7Catalog distribution.
IV/8Catalog & programs. Fall, 1993.
IV/9Correspondence - fliers and announcements. 1993-1994.
IV/10-12Children’s Center [day care] brochures. 1985, 1988.
IV/13Everywoman’s Resource Center. 1993.
IV/15Program gift certificates. 1991-1993.
IV/16Nevada Children’s Trust Fund. 1994.
IV/17Publicity records. 1985-1991.
IV/18“This is Your Life Tosca Means” program. 1971.
IV/19TWIN (Tribute to Women and Industry). 1986-1987.
IV/20Winning with Exercise program. Not dated.
IV/21Guest books.
IV/22Misc. fliers.


94-53/V   Series V.    Scrapbooks, Clippings, Photographs, and miscellaneous. 1926-1996.  2 cu. ft.

Many of the Y’s activities were featured in newspaper articles over the years. These articles have been compiled as either loose clippings or placed into scrapbooks. The scrapbooks also contain photographs and programs. Loose photographs and scrapbooks consisting only of photos were transferred to the photo archives as collection P97-55.

Box 3

V/1 YWCA Y-Teen pin.  Not.dated.

Box 4

V/2-21 Clippings. 1948-1996.
V/22Scrapbook. 1926-1931.
V/23Scrapbook/clippings. 1927-1928.
V/23Marie Morgan Girl Reserve scrapbook. 1928-1931.

Box 5

V/24 Valley Road facility planning and construction scrapbook. 1965.
V/25Y-Teens scrapbook. 1964-1972.

Box 6

V/26 Scrapbook. 1970.
V/27Scrapbook. 1972.

Box 7

V/28 Scrapbook.  1929-1964.

Box 8

V/29 Scrapbook.  1948-1963.
V/30Clippings and photo album. 1963-1964.  [Photo pages removed to photo archives as part of P97-55.]

Box 9

V/31 Scrapbook.  1966.
V/32Scrapbook.  1967.

Box 10

V/33 Scrapbook.  1968.
V/34Scrapbook.  1969.

Box 7

V/35 Scrapbook.  1971.