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LOWELL'S INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE: 
75 YEARS OF COMMUNITY SERVICE
 
The International Institute of Lowell
Imagine finding yourself in a strange new place. You sold everything for a chance at a better life in a new country and all that you own is in the bags resting at your feet.  You are not familiar with the language, customs or laws.  What you wish for is a friendly face... a friend to help you get started.  For 75 years, the International Institute of Lowell has been that friend, helping immigrants adjust to life in their new home.

International Institute Movement
The International Institute of Lowell is one of many International Institutes across the country.  The first International Institute began in New York City in 1910 as an experiment by the newly organized National Board of the Young Women's Christian Association.  The YWCA at this time recognized that the demographics of its constituency had shifted.  The earlier immigrants served by the "Y" were of Protestant background.  By the beginning of the century, however, there was an increase in the arrival of non-Protestant immigrants.  It was felt that these particular women would be more willing to take part in the activities of a non-religious organization.  In order to serve these new immigrants and not conflict with the religious mission of the YWCA, International Institutes were separately formed.

     The driving force behind this movement was a young social welfare and settlement worker named
Edith Terry Bremer, who understood the needs of the immigrant.  Educated at the University of Chicago and a veteran of the Chicago Women's Trade Union League and the Immigrant Protective League, Bremer was recruited in 1909 by the National Board of the YWCA to direct the agency's work with immigrant women and girls.  She envisioned the International Institute as a service oriented agency designed to protect immigrant women, address their problems, and 

YWCA building

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