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 9: Survey from National YWCA

Title: National Student YWCA Survey

“Free Elections for Hungary” YM/YWCA Photos, 1908-09, 1914, 1939-63, RG 29, Subgroup III, Series 4, Box 1
“Free Elections for Hungary”
YM/YWCA Photos, 1908-09, 1914, 1939-63, RG 29, Subgroup III, Series 4, Box 1

Author: unknown

Date: April 1943

Document Type: Handwritten and Typed Document

Location: YWCA Annual Reports 1945/6-1950/51, Series II, RG 29, Box 6, O. C. A.



This survey conducted by National YWCA highlights the shared priorities of the national organization and local chapters. National YWCA’s efforts to adopt an Interracial Charter in 1946 contributed to Oberlin YWCA’s public institutional efforts to address racial injustice within the College.


The following survey excerpt contains questions related to race in YW chapters. Both National and Oberlin YW addressed race as institutions initially in the 1910s and 1920s respectively, but by the 1940s National YW held local chapters accountable to act in accordance with its Interracial Charter.


Note: Handwritten Oberlin YW responses within this transcription are indicated by italics.


Original                       Both                    Transcription



template for ORGINAL



  1. WHAT HAS YOUR ASSOCIATION DONE – If meetings, indicate number and kind; if action, please be specific


  • To increase understanding of and commitment to the Christian Faith? (such as, study and worship; closer relationship with the church; use of present crisis in developing such understanding).

Religious Conference – 3 day program, see enclosed program

            Cooperation with community churches for Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Years.

            Matin and Vesper[1] series under Worship Committee.

            Religion Under Fire – a discussion group having 6 meetings in Fall

            Cabinet Discussion of Xn purpose and its relation to program.


  • To strengthen democracy on the campus? (promotion of honesty in elections; good campus government; wider leadership opportunities; inclusion of members of minority groups; closer faculty-student relationships, civil liberties, etc.)

Stress on leadership Training in Y.W. – 50 committee + sub-committee chairmen.

            Particular interest in Nisei[2] students (17 on campus)

Personal contacts with faculty members – varying our student-faculty program discussion plus social get-togethers.


  • To assume more social and civic responsibility? (understanding problems of your community – the economic situation of various groups, housing, etc.; volunteer work in settlements, relief, defense or war aid in community, etc.; action re legislation [sic], etc.).

Campus Consolidated Drive – Y’s furnished leadership and backing

Active Student-Industrial group sent representative to legislative. Volunteer leadership for groups in community service agencies – stress on leadership training – 60 girls at Children’s Home 45 at Community Center 20 as Scout Leaders 15 at Nursery Home 4 at Thrift Shop


  • To understanding and work toward economic democracy? (including study and work on labor problems, consumer problems, various forms of economic planning, etc.).

Work of Student-Industrial see (c)

            Cooperation with other campus groups – Forum, Co-op –

            Victory thru Action, Cosmopolitan Club


  • To integrate the work experience (including agricultural and industrial emergency work, etc.) of students with formal education

Personal counseling on summer jobs

Field trip to Cleveland social agencies


  • To improve interracial practices –
  • With Negro students?

At what places in your Association do Negro and white constituents (members and program participants) take part jointly in program and share responsibility? List and describe briefly.

Co-chairmen (one negro, one white) for Community center committee

Negro students in Worship, Community Service, Recreation, Office, etc.


What practices in your Association give you greatest concern?

Oberlin is unprejudiced in theory but not entirely in practice.

Negro students do not always feel free to participate in campus affairs.

Proportion of 1450 to 50


Do you feel that your Association is moving in the direction of more effective and fuller participation of Negro students or not? Give reasons for your answer.

Yes – Negro Cabinet member during last two years.


(2) With other nationality or racial groups?


What groups are represented on your campus?

How many in each?

How many of each group are included in your Association membership?

Nisei                                                     17 (men to women)[3]                 4

Refugee (Ger, Fr, Spanish, Danish, etc)           14 ‘’                                        8

Total of 27 Foreign students

enrolled at Oberlin this year

Large number of O. students have lived in foreign countries


Mention any action taken by your Association to improve relationships. Have tried not to make individuals or nationality groups conspicuous but they are included in our program.


(g) To understand the basic causes of world conflict and build for permanent peace? (discussions, speakers, contributing to W. S. S. F.,[4] checking rise of hatred, etc.) Actual group work in Community Center, C. A. Student speakers on Foreign Countries in relation to world planning. (I)

Backed WSSF in Consolidated Relief Drive.

Nisei students – Discussions (6) – Planned panel on Relocation for community has spoken 15 times.

Speakers for all association – Dr. Max Wolffe – “Verdun + Stalingrad, Turning pts [sic] in history”

                                                Dr. Walter Horton – ”The Church and World Reconstruction

                                                Alan Booth British Student X = Movement

  • Are members of American minority groups (Negroes, Jews, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, etc., Latin-Americans, foreign students and others) included in these discussions? Yes If so, to what extent are they included as members of the group?

            Same as the other students – as discussion leaders – as members of panels speaking in community – (15 times on Relocation).


As discussion leaders?


(2) IF your Association is on a campus which does not permit other racial groups to attend the college, what provisions do you make for interracial meetings in which basic causes of the conflict and social reconstruction are discussed? / [n/a]


Are these meetings adequate to establish real understanding and mutual respect? / [n/a]




How many refugees are there on your campus? 14

As students 14  in the faculty 2             in research

Are there other foreign students on your campus? Yes

                        How many? 13 How many are members of the Association? 4

Has anyone in the above groups been interned? No                 Evacuated? Yes

Have you organized a special committee to help refugees? No — Student Council handles Refugee Scholarships

Guest (Foreign) students? No

Have you invited refugees or foreign-born students to take part in social functions, discussion groups, etc? Yes

Did your campus raise money for scholarships for foreign students in 1942, to 1943? Yes – on student Activity Fee.

Has your Association welcomed evacuated American students of Japanese descent? Yes          Your campus? Yes        How many are on your campus? 17

What groups are you cooperating with in this field? (For example, Friends Service League, National Refugee Service, I. S. S.[5]) War Relocation Authority – Cleveland, Friend Service League, National Japanese-Am. Student Relocation Council[6]


[1] YW held morning matin prayer and evening vesper prayers throughout the semester.

[2] Second-generation Japanese Americans, usually referring to those born before the Asian Exclusion Act (Immigration Act of 1924). The law restricted Southern and Eastern European immigration through quotas, and banned Asian and Arab immigration (“Nisei,” Densho Encyclopedia, accessed 27 July 2016, Source).

[3] This is unclear. Perhaps the author of the survey meant there were 21 total Japanese American students, 17 men and 4 women.

[4] World Student Service Fund. It “exists to help students who are suffering because of war in Europe and the Far East… The money raised will be used for work among students in prison camps, for medical supplies, food, clothing, and books” (Marian Roberts and Irving Beal Letter to Faculty, 1940-1941 Scrapbook, RG 29, Series II, Box 4, O. C. A.).

[5] International Student Service. They co-sponsored the World Student Service Fund with Intercollegiate Christian Council (Participating Membership; The National Student Y.W.C.A. Program, 1942-1943; Geneva Region,YWCA Annual Reports 1945/6-1950/51, Series II, RG 29, Box 6, O. C. A.).

[6] War Relocation Authority, American Friends Service Committee, and National Japanese American Student Relocation Council were all organizations which aided formerly interned Japanese Americans. AFSC and NJASRC worked specifically with college-age Japanese Americans; NJASRC sought to resettle formerly interned Japanese Americans at midwest colleges (“National Japanese Student Relocation Council,” Densho Encyclopedia, accessed 27 July 2016, Source; “American Friends Service Committee,” Densho Encyclopedia, accessed 27 July 2016, Source).