This week we pay homage to a few women who have helped shape the last 125 years of YWCA in Washington State. Because of these fearless and community-driven women, YWCA has created spaces for women and girls to network, have access to training, and find safe housing.

It is worth noting that finding information on these women, specifically the women of color, was incredibly difficult. This confirms that women's roles in history have been systematically removed over time even though we know women have been as impactful as men. The issue of erasure is deeply rooted but it's up to us to change this perception, put women back on the page, and continue to celebrate women.

Original YWCA Building
Original YWCA Building

Rees Daniels - 1894

In 1894, Rees Daniels and a few friends founded the Seattle branch of YWCA. The original location was located at 706 3rd Avenue, in Pioneer Square and had over 100 members within the first year. The organization was originally started to provide services for women looking to establish sustainability and safety, that would be a foundation of YWCA's mission.

Phyllis Wheatley YWCA Girls Reserve
Phyllis Wheatley YWCA Girls Reserve - Courtesy of the Black Heritage Society of WA State

Corinne Carter - 1919

One of few black women to even be mentioned in Seattle history, Corinne Carter worked with black children brought to the Seattle Police Department and was designated  "Special Policewoman" in 1914, though her work for the city of Seattle remained unpaid. She was instrumental in the establishment of the Phyllis Wheatley Branch of YWCA originally located at 24th and Howell in the Central District and was at the time, one of few public meeting spaces for black people in the community. The space also offered social, educational, and employment programs to black girls, as well as overnight accommodations for out-of-town girls.

Bertha Pitts Campbell
Bertha Pitts Campbell

 

Bertha Pitts Campbell - 1936

Bertha Pitts Campbell was one of Seattle's first civil rights workers and the first black woman to exercise the right to vote on YWCA's board, on which she served for 53 years. She served four terms as chairperson of YWCA's East Cherry Branch. Bertha moved to Seattle in 1923 from Topeka, Kansas after attending Howard University in Washington D.C. where she co-founded Delta Sigma Theta sorority, one of the largest black sororities in the country. Bertha was also a lead member of the Christian Friends for Racial Equality, an organization committed to expanding housing and job opportunities for the black community.

There are countless women who have and continue to contribute to YWCA's mission and values. You too can get involved by supporting, advocating, volunteering, and attending our events. Thank you for joining us in celebration of our past, present, and future. Here's to the next 125 years

 

Salma Siddick

Salma Siddick is the Social Media & Content Manager at YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish. An immigrant from Zimbabwe, Salma has lived, worked, and attended school on three continents.

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Thu, 03/07/2019 - 10:00
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