Wabash YMCA


Founded in 1913, the Wabash Avenue YMCA grew out of community discontent with the YMCA in the Loop, which barred African Americans. With $25,000 each from Julius Rosenwald of Sears Roebuck and prominent banker N. W. Harris, Chicago's African American community needed to raise another $50,000 in matching funds. The capital campaign became an early and renowned exercise in community self-help. In three weeks over $65,000 were raised. Associated with the African-American professional class and non-union, respectable working class, the YMCA benefited from the welfare capitalism of the Pullman, Armour and Swift Companies. In 1915, Carter G. Woodson -- the first African American to earn a Ph.D. and the only black Ph.D. whose parents were slaves -- started the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History here. In the same year that D. W. Griffiths released "Birth of a Nation," and Woodson participated in the Exposition of Negro Progress marking the 50th Anniversary of Emancipation, Woodson, Monroe Nathan Work, and James E. Stamps met to form the ASNLH. Woodson moved back to Washington, D.C. to teach in the public schools there, and then went to Howard University, but what he started in Chicago became a national black intellectual institution. People like W. E. B. Du Bois, George Edmund Haynes, Sophonsiba Breckinridge, Benjamin Brawley, Jesse Moorland, Arthur Schomburg, Kelly Miller, and many more published in the Journal of Negro History, which Woodson edited from 1916 to 1950.

Labor Trail





3763 S Wabash Ave

Labor Trail

The Chicago Center for Working-Class Studies (CCWCS) is proud to present the Interactive Labor Trail, made possible by a generous grant from the Illinois Humanities Council. This on-line history resource builds on “The Labor Trail: Chicago's History of Working-Class Life and Struggle,” a map of 140 significant locations in the history of labor, migration, and working-class culture in Chicago and Illinois. The Labor Trail is the product of a joint effort to showcase the many generations of dramatic struggles and working-class life in the Chicago area's rich and turbulent past. The Trail's neighborhood tours invite you to get acquainted with the events, places, and people -- often unsung -- who have made the city what it is today. In addition, the statewide map is just a starting point for further exploration of Illinois' labor heritage. This Interactive Labor Trail expands the number of locations and provides a greater depth of information, while giving map users the chance to add their knowledge of locations and events in the Chicago area’s working-class history.

We invite all individuals, groups, and institutions interested in the labor and working-class history of Chicago, Cook County, the Calumet Region, and Illinois to contribute to the map. Users can add new sites, edit or build upon existing entries with additional text, photographs, primary sources, audio and video files, as well as links to related websites.

Easy-to-use instructions for adding to the on-line version of the map are available at www.labortrail.org.

More information on the Chicago Center for Working-Class Studies is available at: www.workingclassstudies.org

The Labor Trail: Chicago's History of Working-Class Life and Struggle

Project Director:
Leon Fink, University of Illinois at Chicago

Project Advisors:
Tobias Higbie, Newberry Library
Lisa Oppenheim, Chicago Metro History Education Center
Liesl Miller Orenic, Dominican University

Administrative Director:
Jeffrey Helgeson, University of Illinois at Chicago

Project Assistants:
Aaron Max Berkowitz, University of Illinois at Chicago; John H. Flores, University of Illinois at Chicago; Erik Gellman, Northwestern University; Dan Harper, University of Illinois at Chicago; Emily LaBarbera-Twarog, University of Illinois at Chicago

Web Design:
William Atwood and Melissa Palmer