Document 7: Excerpt from the Membership Committee, Annual Report of 1887, unprocessed collection of the YWCA of Greater Baltimore, 128 W. Franklin Street, Annual Reports, 1883-1902.
The following excerpts come from the 1887 report of the membership committee. Notice the language used to describe the boarding house. It was a "Home" and it was "comfortable." This document also clearly specifies the goals of "elevating tastes" and refining the working-class girl into an acceptable model of middle-class values. The YWCA also recognized that the small wages women earned meant they had very little money to provide for the necessities of life.
Our new home is a great success, and its pleasant, and convenient arrangements both stimulate and reward our labors.
We deem it no little thing that our friends have made it beautiful, and that its memorial rooms grace it with tender associations. In a "Home" a pure sentiment is ever a fitting guest, and with us whatever inspires a home feeling, and tends to create a softening and elevating influence becomes an educational force of significant value. Every part of our new building is now appropriately furnished, and we give our heartiest thanks to those who in this respect have made us so largely their debtors.
Our new "Committee on Fresh Air" wears an appropriate name and meets a very positive want. To women who toil in stores and factories through the hot and weary hours of summer, and whose meagre pay permits neither absence nor relaxation, the relief this Committee has been able to afford to the sick, and the overworked by pleasant excursions, or a few days rest in the country, or by the sea is welcomed with a delight, and has been attended with a benefit, not easily appreciated by the fortunate ones to whom such opportunities are simple routine; and we commend this feature of our work to the liberal appreciation of our friends in the hope that we will be enabled to enlarge its humane and kindly benefits.
The new Committee on Membership has already done much energetic and valuable work in spreading a better knowledge of the Association, and its methods, and by systematized efforts to increase subscriptions. In this connection by personal interviews with the forewomen of factories, and heads of other business establishments employing thousands of working women, the character, and value of our Association has been presented, and a store of information as to the employees, their work, and their wages has been acquired that may, in the future be turned to valuable account.
By enlisting co-operative societies in seventy of the city Churches this committee has been enabled to turn over to the Treasury over three hundred dollars, and the interest thus excited points to increased contributions in the future.
The Lunch Committee shows, as compared with our last report, an increase of eight thousand meals furnished during the year, and the, at times, overcrowded rooms indicate that probable need of enlarged accommodations.
The Lodging Committee reports an increase from six beds to twenty-seven, and over three thousand nights' lodging furnished as against one thousand in the previous year.
The Employment Committee has secured places for a larger number of applicants.
The Educational Committee has greatly increased its most important work, and reports organized classes inn Literature, Dictation, Penmanship, Calisthenics and Dressmaking, which with those previously formed in Arithmetic, and Book-keeping, point unmistakably to practical results of immediate value to those in whose service they are, at the cost of much labor, maintained: while the reports on Library, and the Religious Instruction show, that the necessity, and the value of sound educational influences are recognized, and availed of.
In this connection we would refer briefly to the Entertainment Committee, which is in fact, one of our Educational forces.
Our Association is not a Women's College. The direct teaching we undertake is limited to such knowledge as pertains to the daily toil of those we would aid, and may tend to secure to them better positions, and larger means of support.
But rudimental instruction, comfortable surroundings, and cheap meals do not fill the measure of our duty. We seek further to elevate tastes, refine manners, and purify morals, so making woman more womanly: and influence on these lines is strengthened by personal association and example, and whatever attracts, and interests, and makes our rooms more homelike opens the way for direct appeal and the happiest results; so that by aiding us in making these monthly entertainments attractive, our friends will be really helping us in our effort to educate.
The Treasurer's report shows a gratifying financial condition, and our only debt is the thanks we owe our friends.
The balance to our credit is, in part, due to the close attention to the details of expenditures, and the strict economy we have felt justified in practicing. We are also happily able to report that our Building Committee, as will be seen by its report, has finally closed its most valuable work, leaving a small balance to our credit, which we mean to make the nucleus of a Sinking Fund toward the payment at the earliest possible day of the redeemable Ground Rent upon our property of three thousand dollars.
We class this report as we began the last, with gratitude for the success of the past, and full hope for the future.
We have done what we could, but it is clear to us that much remains to be done. We are learning better methods of work, and from present indication will have full opportunity to practice them. Each year's experience convinces us more fully of the necessity and value of such an association as ours.
We believe its influence has been good. The needs it aims to meet are being more intelligently understood by us, and we feel that we are getting nearer to the sympathies, and wants of those we so desire to serve. The recital of individual cases of trouble and succor would show that our work has a sadly pathetic, as well as a merely practical side. The story of the thousands of young women who amidst painful surroundings, pressing temptations, and straitened circumstances are waging bitter warfare for daily bread in the heart of this wealthy and crowded community would, if told, make sharp appeal to sensibility and conscience. Organized effort offers a practical mode of alleviation, and inspired by duty, and guided by love it can do much.
Is not our opportunity of work our friends' opportunity of support.