RG 97: Records of Church Women United of Arlington, 1944-2001

Collection Number
RG 97
On January 20, 1944, representatives from sixteen churches in Arlington met to discuss organizing an Arlington Council of Church Women. The name was changed in 1953 to United Church Women of Arlington and then, finally, to Church Women United (CWU) in 1968.

The national Church Women United describes itself as “a national volunteer Christian ecumenical women’s movement.” From its beginning in 1941 it has been an interdenominational and interracial group. The national CWU has been a significant leader in developing the churches’ role within the Civil Rights movement, the peace movement, and the equal rights movement.

Early in its formation, United Church Women in Arlington advocated for integration of many facilities including hospitals, restaurants, and movie theaters. It also argued for racial equality in matters of churches, schools, housing, and the workplace. In 1952 the Arlington Council started a Child Care Center for Eastern Shore migrant workers and provided supplies and programs. Local child care centers were a few of the other projects in which CWU was a leader.

CWU’s calendar revolves around an annual meeting in January, a World Day of Prayer (first Friday in March), May Fellowship Day (first Friday in May), and World Community Day (first Friday in November).
Scope and Content
The files of Church Women United consist of almost 5 linear feet and cover the time period 1944-2001. The collection is arranged into five series. Series 1 comprises the minutes of general meetings, executive committee meetings, forum meetings and other celebrations. The Annual Reports make up Series 2 and Series 3 is the subject files. A pamphlet describing their first 25 years is in the “History” file.

The collection also includes scrapbooks which constitute Series 4. The archivist completely photocopied the scrapbooks before deconstructing them for preservation purposes. All original materials were kept, except for newspaper clippings. Clippings were photocopied with the rest of the scrapbook and originals thrown away for preservation purposes. Scrapbooks contain newspaper clippings, notices of meetings and celebrations, pamphlets and bulletins to promote local, regional, and national events, financial reports, annual reports, marketing materials to promote Church Women United (in Arlington and the larger organization), and in the later years, photographs.

A group of unfiled and unlabeled papers were placed in separate files chronologically. These constitute Series 5, and this is the location for the files for the most recent years. When appropriate some of these papers were incorporated into the subject and meeting files. The files contain information and flyers about other meetings, the Virginia CWU as well a few of the publications of the national CWU (Churchwoman) and Lead Time.

Series 6, Audio-visual materials, includes one videotape of Creating a Life that appeared on Arlington Community TV, December 20, 1990.
Arrangement and Description
The order and division of the files are essentially the same as when the files were donated to the Center for Local History. All file names are the same as labeled by the CWU with the exception of Series 5 as noted above. Most files are in chronological order, such as the minutes, annual reports and scrapbooks, and the subject files are in alphabetical order. Some files include photographs and are indicated by an asterisk (*). Though the scrapbooks in Series 4 are arranged chronologically, the photocopied scrapbooks and contents of originals after deconstruction are in separate folders. The file(s) containing the photocopied scrapbook are placed before the file(s) containing the original contents. Files are marked in the finding aid as either “Scrapbook Photocopy” or “Scrapbook Originals” to differentiate the two. It is recommended researchers consult the photocopied scrapbooks before the originals. For example, newspaper clippings are only available in the photocopied files. Originals were not kept due to preservation purposes. The photocopied scrapbooks also allow the researcher to see how the creators of the scrapbooks arranged and grouped the materials on the page.
This collection was donated in two parts: in 2005 from Elizabeth Le Roy, and in 2006 from Josephine Starling.
There are no restrictions.
Related Collections
Records relating to church groups are RG 6, Arlington County Churches; RG 77, Women’s Aid Society, Presbyterian Church of Ballston, VA; and RG 123, Rock Springs Congregational United Church of Christ.

Other record groups pertaining to women’s organizations in Arlington County are RG 16, Arlington County Federation of Women’s Clubs; RG 17, Organized Women Voters of Arlington County; and RG 44, The League of Women Voters.

Since Church Women United was instrumental in the establishment of a prayer room at the Arlington Hospital (now the Virginia Hospital Center) and promoting the integration of the hospital, the researcher may be interested in RG 125, Virginia Hospital Center Records and RG 48, Records of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Arlington Branch.

*Files have photographs


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