PSU celebrates YWCA day

Portland State University and the YWCA of Greater Portland have teamed up to create a living history day. This “day” will represent a century of women in the city.

PSU’s Capstone program has been researching this topic for five years, and under the direction of Associate Professor of History, Patricia Schechter, a month-long photography exhibit will be held.

“All of the records that we have gathered are unusually complete,” Schechter commented.

Entitled, “A World of Difference: Women of the Portland YWCA, 1901-2000,” the exhibit will open at the beginning of November, and run all month following a daylong conference which is free and open to the public. This conference will be held in the Smith Memorial Center’s Littman Gallery, 1825 S.W. Broadway, Room 250, on Thursday, Nov. 1. A reception and ceremony are planned for later on in the evening, celebrating PSU student scholarships and achievements of YWCA women. Vera Katz, Portland’s mayor, has commemorated this centennial by declaring Nov. 1 to be “YWCA Day.” Although she will not be able to attend the event due to vacation, a representative from her office is planned to attend.

The Capstone program finds Katz’s positive response important.

“It’s very symbolic to have a woman mayor present in the community, to show interest in this women’s exhibit,” Schechter said.

The Capstone program, including Schechter and her students, have worked with the organization – researching archives, interviewing women in the community and presenting annual public forums since 1996. With all of the work Schechter and her students have accomplished, PGE has given them a grant of $20,000 in support of the YWCA’s centennial celebration. The celebration is also being considered for publication in the journal, Frontiers: A Journal of Women’s Studies, published by the University of Washington.

The University Studies program contributed $4000 to each Capstone taught since the program started. The total sum of the donations is approximately $20,000, which went to help pay for student transportation and money to buy more materials.

“My students and I have been honored to do this work,” Schechter said.

Other activities featured at the “A World of Difference” exhibit include a screening and discussion of the video, “100 Years of Women Making a Difference;” a workshop, “Legacies of Activism and Advocacy: Anti-Racism, Anti-Violence, and the Empowerment of Women;” and a panel presentation by Capstone scholars, “The Nerve and Views of YWCA Women.”

After the month-long exhibit ends, Schechter is planning on taking the exhibit around the state. Salem, University of Oregon and the Multnomah County Library are all planning to hold this exhibit sometime in the future. Capstone students will also continue to collect information for use in other possible events in the future.

“Without PSU students … none of this would have seen the light of day,” Schechter said.