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Reno/Sparks YWCA Records

Identifier: 94-53
The bulk of the records of the YWCA were donated to the Special Collections Department in 1994, with additional materials received since then. Currently the collection consists of six 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 department’s Photo Archives as collection UNRS-P1997-55.

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. These items 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 AC 0349). The records date from 1960-1974; a guide to the collection is available.


  • 1919-1996



Collection is open for research. Materials must be used on-site; advance notice suggested. Access to parts of this collection may be restricted under provisions of state or federal law.


6 Cubic Feet (10 boxes)


Included are minutes of board of director meetings, annual meetings, the Young Wives Club, and Camp Nay-A-Ti (Lake Tahoe); annual reports; financial and legal materials; programming plans and reports; fliers about events and classes; history of the Reno/Sparks YWCA; information about the Y's buildings; clippings; scrapbooks; and photographs.

Administrative History

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, Nevada was the Young Women's Christian Association, formed at the 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 the Reno 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 at this time.

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 offered outdoor summer recreational opportunities.

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, take classes, and enjoy recreation. Gradually the building was expanded with an auditorium and gymnasium.

From 1951 to 1960, serious consideration was given to forming a joint YMCA and YWCA. The motion, in the long run, was defeated. New facilities were desperately needed, however, 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 1st 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.

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, entitled "Making Their Mark: Reno/Sparks YWCA History," as yet unpublished in 1997, is included in the collections of the Special Collections Department as manuscript 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.


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

Series 1: Administrative

Series 2: Policy, Strategic Plans, and History

Series 3. Physical Plant

Series 4: Programs

Series 5: Scrapbooks, Clippings, and Miscellaneous

Related Archival Materials

AC 0349: Young Women's Christian Association (University of Nevada, Reno) Records, 1960-1974 96-04: Reno/Sparks YWCA History Collection

Separated Materials

Loose photographs, photographic albums and album pages have been transferred to the photo archives of the Special Collections Department as collection UNRS-P1997-55.

A Part of

Nevada women's archives.


A Guide to the Records of the Reno/Sparks YWCA
Susan Searcy
September 1997
Description rules

Repository Details

Part of the University of Nevada, Reno. Special Collections Department Repository

Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center
1664 N. Virginia St.
Reno Nevada 89557-0322 USA
775-682-5724 (Fax)