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LOWELL'S INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE: 
75 YEARS OF COMMUNITY SERVICE
 
help with their adjustment to life in the United States.  Bremer believed that this new program should recognize the importance of the immigrant community in the life of the immigrant girl.  She cautioned against the dangers of isolating the individual from the community and of straining relations between the generations.  "The community," wrote Bremer, "must be understood, sympathized with, and dealt with as a part of treating the individual."

     Bremer understood that individuals rooted in the cultures and languages of the immigrants would be the most trusted and effective.  For this reason, she advocated that the workers be recruited and, if necessary, trained from those communities being served.  These workers became known as "nationality secretaries."

     Because of its YWCA sponsorship, Bremer felt that the Institute should provide a complete program for the immigrant girl by offering not only English classes, but all the activities of a regular local YWCA, adapted to the needs and interests of the foreign born.  By the time of the first World War, this "experiment" had become an integral part of the YWCA and spread to other cities across the United States where major immigrant populations resided.

The Founding
As early as 1914, the Extension Committee of the Lowell YWCA began working with immigrant women by concentrating on recruiting new members from those working at the local textile mills.  The goal was to reinforce Protestant principles for Protestant women and to convert others.  The mill agents, for their part, felt that this work was beneficial to their interests.  Their belief was that if the immigrant was involved with the YWCA, she was less likely to be a problem and therefore would be a better worker.  With the mill agents' permission, the YWCA was allowed to conduct English classes during lunch time, organize clubs, hold meetings and conduct periodic lectures.  These activities proved somewhat successful in drawing recruits to the YWCA.  Once at the YWCA, the new members could continue to learn English, study homemaking and citizenship, and receive help with health and personal hygiene. 

     In December of 1915, the Northeast Field 
Committee, a regional arm of the YWCA's national
office, held a conference that recognized New
England's unique situation.  The committee found
that New England, with its large immigrant
population, needed to put special emphasis on
recruiting and working with immigrant women
employed in the mills.

     The national office sent representatives to Lowell to help organize the local efforts.  It was hoped that with changes at the local level, there would be an increase in the number of volunteer 

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