Young Women's Christian Association, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
The Young Women's Christian Association (Y.W.C.A.) at the University of Nebraska started in fall of 1884. The organization served as a semi-official social group and for many years gave the only reception to new students. In 1891 the Y.W.C.A. and the Young Men's Christian Association (Y.M.C.A.)published a handbook that was given out to each new student at registration. Published for over 60 years, this book became the "N book," which contained pertinent information about the University as well as Christian Associations. The first Y.W.C.A. meetings were held in University Hall. Then in 1908, the group moved into the Temple Building. In September 1918, with the United States involvement in World War I the space was needed by the Student Army Training Corps. At this point the Y.W.C.A. moved into the Sheldon-Richards-Rickets house, later called Ellen Smith Hall. In February 1912, women in the Agriculture College formed their own Y.W.C.A., meeting only occasionally until the 1923-1924 school year when the group elected officers.
In the early 1920s a Y.W.C.A. interracial committee was formed with two co-chairmen, one an African-American woman and one a white woman. Efforts were made to persuade eating establishments in Lincoln to serve African Americans, with some success. Another committee was the Inter-church committee, which was not only interracial, but made up of representatives from every denomination in Lincoln, including Protestants, Dunkards, Mennonites, Quakers, Catholics, Unitarians, and Jews. The organization continued to broaden their interest in topics ranging from labor conditions, sponsoring programs where young female students would get jobs in shops and factories for the summer to learn about those of their own age who worked in industry and to gain some knowledge of working conditions. The Y.W.C.A. also formed an Anti-war movement, which in the early 1930s hosted a Conference on Disarmament. The organization was instrumental in forming the International House for housing female students of different races. The Agriculture College Y.W.C.A. organized many mission projects abroad, including Nebraska in China.
In the mid 1940s the Y.W.C.A. again battled against segregation in University housing, and in January 1950 two African-American students and one Hawaiian student were allowed to live in the dorms. In the 1950s, the Y.W.C.A. the group's mission changed from its early focus on religious and social issues to more of a women's social club. By the 1970s the mission changed back to a focus on social issues. The Y.W.C.A. sponsored the formation of the Association for Birth Control, the Nebraska Organization for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NORAL) and the Women's Information Line. In addition they held a Sex Fair, which offered birth control and veneral disease information to all students.