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International Institute of 100 Metropolitan Detroit Turns.

The International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit (IIMD) was founded on August 31,1919, to provide social services for new immigrants in the Detroit area. Originally called the "YWCA Bureau of Service for Foreign Born Women" or the "International Institute," the Detroit organization was 1 of 55 similar YWCA-sponsored groups established in cities across the United States at a time of peak immigration. IIMD was among the first advocates of cultural diversity because it "accepted ethnic diversity and encouraged the maintenance of immigrant languages, traditions, and folk cultures."

Emma R. Lucke and Bainbridge Hayden were YWCA members who led the International Institute's development in Detroit. Freshly arrived immigrants were invited to attend Enghsh classes at the small brick cottage that served as the organization's first headquarters. In December 1919, the IIMD organized a holiday program, which involved more than a hundred people who demonstrated holiday customs from their native lands.

In 1934, the International Institute moved to expanded facilities to keep pace with the organization's growth. It became part of the YWCA Industrial Center and temporarily changed its name to "The International Center." The organization separated from the YWCA in 1945 with funding from the United Foundation Torch Drive and changed its name back to the International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit. The first president of the board of directors of the newly independent nonprofit organization was Dr. David C. Henry, who served as president of Wayne University--later Wayne State University--at the time.

Land in Detroit's Cultural Center was dedicated in 1949 for a new building to house the IIMD. More than 1,500 people participated in the dedication event, during which attendees donned the traditional dress of their home countries. The building was finished in 1952.

IIMD has enjoyed accreditation by the U.S. Department of Justice Board of Immigration Appeals since 1958. It is the only agency in Michigan authorized by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Citizenship and Immigration Services to support legal permanent residents who are becoming U.S. citizens.

Serving Detroit, Hamtramck, Troy, and Sterling Heights, IIMD currently offers legal services to assist immigrants in becoming U.S. citizens; sponsors swearing-in ceremonies; provides citizenship, GED, and English as a second language classes; and hosts ethnic enrichment, career development, and financial literacy programs. IIMD has amassed numerous cultural artifacts, such as Ethel Averbach's International Doll Collection and Larry Scripps Wilkinson's Model Ship Collection--which contains replicas of ships that carried immigrants to the United States.

One hundred years after its founding, the International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit continues to help immigrants "appreciate freedom and democracy, become citizens, be assimilated into their new communities, and learn to understand each other's cultures."

Caption: Above, left: The International Institute. Above, right: Barbara Brooks, receptionist (left) and Floyd Howard, building superintendent and longest-serving staff member (right), hold their Milestone plaque in the lobby of the International Institute. (All photos courtesy of the International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit.)

Caption: Dolls in native Taiwanese attire from the Ethel Averbach International Doll Collection that are housed at the International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit.

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Title Annotation:MILESTONES
Publication:Michigan History Magazine
Geographic Code:1U3MI
Date:Jul 1, 2019
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