In 1916, the National Board organized the first Chinese YWCA in America. From the 1930s to 1980s, the San Francisco YWCA Chinatown served as a social outlet for many Chinese American women in the community with dance lessons, cultural programs, cooking classes, youth activities, and more.

YWCA Collection 001JPEG-webTimes changed in the 1960s when the Civil Rights Movement relaxed immigration laws that promoted racial equality and dramatically changed the make-up of the Chinese American community. By the 1980s, the building had become obsolete both in function & in meeting building code requirements. Faced with the high cost of retrofitting the building, the SF Board of Supervisors donated the building to a non-profit, CHSA, to house its museum.