Scrapbooks and Social Awareness: A Self-Curated History of the Oberlin YWCA

Part 1: Domestic Arts     |     Part 2: Student-Faculty Discussions
Part 3: Career Symposia     |     Part 4: Interracial Relations

Introduction     |     Document 8: Petition Against Poll Tax     |     Document 9: Survey from National YWCA     |     Document 10: Brochure Diversity    |     Document 11: Interracial Committees     |     Document 12: Glee Club Incident

Document 8: Petition Against Poll Tax

Title: Petition

Date: undated

Document Type: Typed Document

Location: 1940-1941 YWCA Scrapbook, RG 29, Series II, Box 4, O. C. A.



This petition supports the 1940 Geyer-Pepper Bill that proposed to “declare it to be unlawful for any individual, state, municipality or any other subdivision of government to require payment of a poll tax as a prerequisite to voting in any primary or general election for the choice of persons to hold office under the federal government.”[1] Ultimately, this bill did not pass in the Senate and Congress did not eliminate poll taxes in 1964.


Unlike many of YWCA’s campus efforts for racial justice and civil rights, this petition has a national focus. The author may be Oberlin YWCA, National YWCA, or Oberlin YMCA, given that all three sponsored Interracial Committees. Whatever the source, Oberlin YW clearly valued and supported the cause because they include it in their scrapbook. Perhaps members were inclined to participate in poll tax legislation given their recent feminist inheritance of suffrage.


Original                       Both                    Transcription



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Whereas in eight southern states three-quarters of the people–six million white and four million Negro citizens—are denied by the oppressive poll tax system the right to vote;


Whereas through block purchase and distribution of poll tax receipts, political machines return their representatives year after year;


Whereas under the rule of seniority, these representatives have secured control of many important congressional committees;


Whereas we deem this condition inconsistent with true democratic government;


We the undersigned urge you to endorse the discharge petition on the Geyer Anti-Poll Tax Bill (H. R. 1024) and vote for its passage.


NAME                                                                                    ADDRESS


[1] “The Poll Tax,” CQ Researcher, accessed 9 August 2016, Source.