The history of Phyllis Wheatley Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), Inc., is a long and exciting one.  It is the story of African-American women with a vision to start a YWCA for “Colored” women and girls in the early years of the twentieth century when such a deed was impractical and required great courage.

The idea for a YWCA began when Mrs. Rosetta Lawson, a churchwoman and social activist, became inspired by a Chicago YWCA organizer. Upon her return, she invited her literary group, “The Booklovers Club,” to consider organizing a YWCA in the District of Columbia.  The invitation was extended on April 5, 1905, at the Berean Baptist Church.  As a result, the first YWCA in Washington was organized on May 5, 1905. The temporary headquarters was two rented rooms at Four and One Half Street and Maryland Avenue, Southwest.

The established goal was to provide care, housing, and guidance to the hundreds of “Colored” women and girls flocking to the city to seek employment.  The initial concern, as it is today, was lodging for working women and girls.

The first President was Mrs. Bettie Francis, followed by Mrs. Frances Boyce.  Mrs. Julia West Hamilton was the third President of Phyllis Wheatley.

In 1918, the “Colored” YWCA became affiliated with the National Board [1] of the Young Women’s Christian Association of the United States of America. The D.C. Central YWCA assumed Phyllis Wheatley would be a financial drain and chose to remain separate from the “Colored” YWCA. Thus, Washington was the only city with two independent YWCAs.

To view more information about the PWYWCA Organization, click HERE!