Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy


Education, Educational Leadership & Policy Studies

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Matthew D. Davis, Ph.D.


Lynn Beckwith, Jr., Ed.D.

Carl Hoagland, Ph.D.

Claude Weathersby, Ph.D.


Immediately following the end of the Reconstruction period, Negro Americans were forced to live in the second wave of racial bondage resulting from the institutionalization of Jim Crow Laws. For Black females, this bondage carried a double-edged sword, as the weight of this oppression encompassed every aspect of their lives. Unfortunately, many viewed that there was no outlet from this misery. Even before the official end of slavery, free Black women that rose to the middle-class economic status had begun club work and established clubs in their communities. These organizations not only provided a social outlet for these privileged women, but they also ameliorated the lives of the lower working class women club members. From its humble beginnings in 1911, the Phyllis Wheatley YWCA (PW-Y) of St. Louis was destined to be a social icon. The Phyllis Wheatley Committee on Administration (PW-COA), the core management group, emphasized providing religious services and housing for lower classed Black females. As formal educational opportunities were relatively unavailable to poor Blacks, the PW-COA added informal educational programming for young girls to abate that void. By the 1950s, the PW-Y was an integral part of the African American community offering informal education classes, camping, housing, food service, and a facility that entertained as well as hosted meetings for proletarian groups fighting discriminatory practices. Nonetheless, the former core management group, the PW-COA, had no voice in the research literature. Therefore, this study is a historical narrative analysis that gave the present PW-COA members the medium to share the stories of their involvement in the PW-Y.

OCLC Number


Included in

Education Commons