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YMCA Archives News

News from the Kautz Family YMCA Archives, University of Minnesota.

June 30, 2014

Online Data about YMCAs and YMCA People

Ever wondered if you could find out which YMCA your grandfather worked for back in the 1930s? Curious about how long your hometown YMCA has been around? Are you interested in what kinds of programming the YMCA was offering in 1910? These are just a few of the types of questions that can be answered by searching the YMCA yearbooks, directories, and proceedings, which are fully digitized and available online.

1919-1920 yearbook page

The collection consists of published annual directories and reports of the body that coordinated or oversaw YMCA work for North America, and later the United States from 1854 to 2002. While the content varies significantly, they consistently include lists of YMCAs existing during that year and employed staff members, as well as those serving in leadership positions at regional and national levels. Most also include statistical charts with such data as number and type of members, types of programs and numbers of participants, although other information varies greatly over the years. Volumes from the earliest years are in the form of proceedings of the annual convention, consisting primarily of reports from the various delegates about the progress of YMCA work across the continent. In later years, the publications, then called "year books," included reports from the various programs and departments. Beginning in the early 1980s, much of the narrative content was eliminated and the volumes included only officer and staff directories and statistical data.

A complete list of the volumes with links to the digitized versions is available. You can then search within each volume. You can also search across the entire set of volumes by going to the YMCA Archives website, selecting the "images/media" tab from the "search the collections" box, and then limiting your search to "yearbooks, directories, and proceedings." To locate your search term(s) within a given volume, click on it in the search results page and then use the "search within this item" box.

Photo: Page from the 1919-1920 YMCA Year Book showing some details about YMCAs in Idaho and Illinois

May 27, 2014

Enduring Vision, new book about George Williams College

EnduringVisionPostcard(1)_Page_1.jpgFor the past several years Rita Yerkes and Wilma Miranda (Dean Emeritus, George Williams College of Aurora University; Professor Emeritus, Northern Illinois University) have made numerous trips to the Kautz Family YMCA Archives. So many in fact that I lost count, but in losing track I gained two friends.

One of the great pleasures of working in the archives is being able to sometimes witness a book move from concept to finished product. These two scholars from Illinois have crafted a wonderful narrative of the YMCAs efforts to establish a training school in the Midwest. This training school founded with the goal of professionalizing YMCA work matured and expanded in typical YMCA fashion to become a pioneer in the areas of adult education, group work, physical education, recreation and social work.

In addition to telling the development of George Williams College, the authors also shine light on three often neglected YMCA pioneers, Robert Weidensall, William E. Lewis, and Isaac E. Brown. Additional information (including how to purchase) can be found in the link below.


April 9, 2014

YMCA Publishing Work with Russian Emigres: Preserving Culture in the Midst of Chaos

Melanie Doherty is a Project Archives Research and Reference Assistant at the Kautz Family YMCA Archives. She joined the staff in February 2012 as a student assistant on a project to compile summary descriptions of collections in the YMCA Archives and stayed on after graduating in December 2013 to continue working on the project. This spring we invited her to utilize the knowledge of the collections she acquired through the project to curate of a small exhibit on a topic of her choice. The results are on display in the case outside the Archives through at least September 2014. Please stop by and take a look any time Andersen Library is open.

RussianBook.JPG When I was given the opportunity to create an exhibit for the Kautz Family YMCA Archives I was very excited. I wanted to focus on a topic that really highlighted what the materials within the archive were able to express. I wished the exhibit to strike a chord with the viewer in a similar manner that a collection was able to strike a chord with me. I had worked with so many of the collections that I had what seemed like a million ideas. In order to narrow the exhibit down to one subject I focused on topics that had human interest at the heart of them but also showed great historical significance.

The exhibit narrates a story of the life of the Russian exile after the Russian Revolution and the importance of of reading material to those exiles. The Russian Revolution initiated a situation of turmoil for millions. Russia's citizens experienced starvation and repression. Between 900,000 and 2 million became exiles, among them writers, artists, engineers and people from every sort of social and educational background. Many were committed to preserving the pre-revolutionary Russian culture and way of life while living abroad. The means to do this, however, was out of their immediate reach as most left the majority of their possessions behind.

Continue reading "YMCA Publishing Work with Russian Emigres: Preserving Culture in the Midst of Chaos" »

March 7, 2014

Archives Discovery of White Cross Army Minutes

Louise Merriam, our New York YMCA Archivist, recently made an intriguing find . . .

Sometimes you find items in the archives that perfectly reflect the place where the New York YMCA was situated at a particular point in time. Recently, for example, an archivist found a couple of minute books buried in a box of miscellaneous Board meeting minutes from the early 1900s. The two volumes were called White Cross Committee minutes, and were dated 1885-1893. whitearmy.png

Nothing startling so far, but I happened to know that the White Cross Committee and its associated groups were an important part of a moral purity movement that flourished in the last decades of the 19th century in New York and other urban centers. The idea was to revive the chivalry of the Middle Ages and eliminate the double standard that allowed men to "sin" without consequences while women, referred to in a New York Times story covering the organizing meeting as "objects of lust," were cast out and had only one option - the streets. At the organizing meeting several hundred young men signed a pledge card that committed themselves to seeking sexual purity.

In its efforts to eliminate the double standard, the White Cross Army seems very forward thinking. In other ways, of course, it seems quaint. However, in both instances, it shows that the New York YMCA was at the forefront of cultural and social issues, seeking to improve the lives of people in the City of New York in many different ways.

In the annual report of the New York YMCA for 1886 (page 25), you can see a fuller description of the movement and its association with the YMCA.

Need Money to do Research at the Archives? Apply Now for the 2014 Clarke Chambers Fellowship

The application deadline for the annual Clarke Chambers Fellowship is coming up on April 15th. The fellowship supports travel to do research in the Social Welfare History Archives or the Kautz Family YMCA Archives. Preference is given to dissertation writers and early-career scholars.

March 26, 2013

Need Money to Travel to the Archives? Apply Now for the Clarke Chambers Fellowship

The application deadline for the annual Clarke Chambers Fellowship is coming up on April 15th. The fellowship supports travel to do research in the Social Welfare History Archives or the Kautz Family YMCA Archives. Preference is given to dissertation writers and early-career scholars.

January 31, 2013

50 Jr. High students from Olson Middle School visit the archives

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On January 11th Andersen Library was pleased to welcome 50 students from Olson Middle school, Bloomington, MN. These 6th and 7th graders who are preparing for History Day projects learned about primary sources and toured the facilities. One parent - and past researcher - sent us the following note:

"Thank you for the great presentation to the Olson Middle School students on January 11. My daughters Claire and Amelia loved it--they are already history fans, so I am very glad for them to have every opportunity to develop their interest in this subject."

We were glad to have them!

Photo: Meredith Gillies - Children's Literature Research Collection - explains how to "read" a primary source document

December 3, 2012

The YMCA in Africa

The first YMCA in Africa was founded in Liberia in 1881, and the American YMCA was working to spread the movement on that continent as early as 1890. Records of YMCA international work in 25 different African countries are available at the Kautz Family YMCA Archives. The most extensive collections document work in Egypt, Ethiopia, Liberia, Nigeria, and South Africa, but there are also records of YMCA work in Angola, Cameroon, The Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Morocco, Namibia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

ya000412.jpg Programs in Africa sponsored by the YMCA focused primarily on youth, who formed the majority of its population and were seen as representing Africa's future. YMCA youth development programs in Africa included health education, vocational training, crafting development, small business development, rural development, family planning, refugee assistance and rehabilitation, environmental protection, youth sports projects, youth job development, leadership training, young women training and education and camp programs that included farm training.

Another area of focus for YMCA work in the continent of Africa was the continual problems brought about by war and drought. Many YMCA relief efforts were continuously underway in Africa, and many occasions where the YMCA either asked assistance from outside agencies or simply made them aware of the problems that Africa was facing and suggested that they get involved. Among the agencies that the YMCA worked with were USAID (United States Agency for International Development), Africare, UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief), the Red Cross and the Peace Corps, to name a few. The Y's Men International was also quite helpful to the relief efforts and the individual YMCAs in Africa. The YMCA's relief work played a significant role in the survival of the African citizens at times, and established the organization as a trusted agency concerned with the well being of Africans.

Photo: Picture of the Month - December 1969 ,YMCA World Service. Caption: "Towards a brighter future in Nigeria: While the civil war rages on, Nigeria's YMCA continues to provide some of the more 'normal' experiences of childhood for increasing numbers of the nations youth. In the Kaduna Y, where library books are a big attraction for some, the YMCA is housed in a church from which all the members have fled and become refugees." Kautz Family YMCA Archives.

October 17, 2012

Explore the History of a University: George Williams College

Did you know the YMCA started several colleges and universities? The YMCA was a pioneer in many areas of education, including night schools, English as a second language instruction, and vocational education. In addition, at least two institutions of higher learning still operating today, Northeastern University in Boston and Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts, can trace their roots to the Y. George Williams College, founded in 1886 as a summer training institute for the Y and established in 1890 as a degree-granting institution of higher learning, was absorbed by Aurora College in 1987 but its 100+ year history is documented at the Kautz Family YMCA Archives, where its historical records can be found.

Records of George Williams College at the archives include everything from administrative records, to college yearbooks, to course catalogs. They include extensive material documenting the 1965 move of the campus from the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago to a new campus in suburban Downer's Grove, Illinois. They even include over 1300 dissertations and theses written by students over the course of 90 years on topics ranging from religion and church history to physical education and kinesiology to social, group, and youth work. Learn more by checking out the finding aid for the collection.

Photo: Experiment in blood pressure at George Williams College, c. 1920s-1930s. Kautz Family YMCA Archives.

August 7, 2012

Now Online and in Print: Over 1,000 Reports of YMCA Work in China

We are excited to announce that our extensive collection of reports on YMCA work in China has been digitized and is now available online! (See below for details on how to search.) The reports, written by 243 YMCA foreign secretaries during the period from 1896 to 1949, document social conditions, politics, and other events as well as the progress of YMCA work in cities across the country. Due to the time period they document, their rich content, and the fact that the material is in English, this material has long been the single most heavily used part of the YMCA Archives collections. The reports, along with other material on YMCA work in China have frequently attracted researchers from around the world, including China itself, to the archives. More information on this collection and other extensive materials on YMCA work in China is available online in our Guide to Resources on YMCA Work in China

To search the digitized reports, select the "Images/Media" tab in the search box and limit your search to "Reports on China." To locate the exact page(s) in a report where your key words appear, select a report and repeat the search using the "search within item" box near the top of the screen.

In related news, the Guangxi Normal University Press just released a print version of the digitized reports in a twenty volume set. The publication, which was coordinated by former University of Minnesota East Asian Librarian Su Chen and prepared in close cooperation with the Archives, reproduces the reports alongside abstracts in Chinese. It also includes short biographical sketches, in English and Chinese, of the many YMCA secretaries who served in China.

Between the digital versions available online and the print version published in China, we are optimistic that this important and fascinating material will reach an even wider audience.

March 2, 2012

Travel Fellowship Available to Visit the Archives

The application deadline for the annual Clarke Chambers Fellowship is coming up on April 15th. The fellowship supports travel to do research in the Social Welfare History Archives or the Kautz Family YMCA Archives. Preference is given to dissertation writers and early-career scholars.

February 22, 2012

Full Text of WWI Newspaper Now Online

A nearly complete run of Trench and Camp, a newspaper published by the YMCA for army camps during World War I is now available online via the University of Minnesota's UMedia Archive. The full text of the Camp Upton (Long Island, New York) edition can be searched from the "Images/Media" tab on the YMCA Archives web site (for best results, limit the search to Trench & Camp newspaper). You can also browse through the issues via UMedia or via a list of links from the YMCA Archives' finding aid for Trench and Camp newspaper.

Trench and Camp was printed weekly in different editions for each of the thirty-two cantonments, with about half the material supplied weekly from a central editorial office in New York, and half by local reporters. Its purpose was "to print the news, to inform, to stimulate, and to help relieve the tedium and monotony of camp life" for soldiers, as well as "to be a graphic account of the life of our soldiers, whether they be drilling or fighting, at home or 'over there'" for civilians. Contributions from soldiers include descriptions of the entertainments at the camps, athletic contests, educational lectures, jokes, and poetry, as well as personal columns telling of their experiences. The YMCA Archives collections include runs, in varying degrees of completeness, for thirty different editions from across the country.

January 26, 2012

Finding Pamphlets in the YMCA Archives

A list of over 2,000 pamphlets in the YMCA Archives is now available online. The succinct communication form of the pamphlet allowed the YMCA to craft targeted messages for targeted audiences. This collection wonderfully illustrates the evolution of the YMCA's scope of work and audience. The development of work from the YMCA safeguarding the soul of man as described by "The Call and the Qualifications. Christian Work Among Young Men. When and How To Do It" (1883, by E. Corwin. [Box 1]) over time became a community approach to the development of the whole individual, as outlined in "Parents Co-Operate. The Role of Parents in YMCA Boys' Work" (1945 [Box 3]).

This collection presents an opportunity for researchers and YMCA professionals to access the pamphlets, many of which are available no where else, for the first time. Up until now the Archives have had no listing or index of this material.

December 2, 2011

Limited Service the Week of January 3-6, 2012

The Department of Archives and Special Collections (including the YMCA Archives) will be providing limited service the first week of January 2012. January 3-6 ASC will not be registering new researchers or pulling any materials for research use. Researchers who have registered with us by December 15 and have materials already available in the reading room will be accommodated. The reading room will be open 8:30-4:30 M-F beginning Monday, January 9. Wednesday and Thursday evening hours resume January 18.

Please also note: We are completely closed on December 26 and 27 as well as January 2nd. See our hours web page for more details.

December 1, 2011

Supporting the YMCA Movement in China

The YMCA in Wuhan, China, marked its 100th anniversary this year, and YMCA Archivist Lara Friedman-Shedlov was there to help celebrate the milestone. WuhanY100.JPGFounded in the same year (and in the same city) as the revolution that ended Qing dynasty and established the first republic in China, the Wuhan YMCA boasts a rich history of service in the community. Like most of the YMCAs currently active in China, it traces its roots to the workers (known as "foreign secretaries") sent by the American YMCA to spread the movement to Asia and other parts of the world. The records of those early years of the Chinese YMCA are now housed at the Kautz Family YMCA Archives, where they are available to researchers from around the World. Since of the Chinese Y's own records did not survive the Cultural Revolution and other political upheavals of the mid-20th century, the records in the YMCA Archives' collections have in many cases been a key resource for these Ys as they try to reconstruct their past. The YMCA Archives was pleased to be able to provide records and photographs to assist the Wuhan YMCA in researching its 100-year history and delighted to have a staff member in attendance at the celebration, which was held on October 26th.

Photo:Wuhan YMCA General Secretary Tu Hanqiao and YMCA Archivist Lara Friedman-Shedlov at the Wuhan YMCA 100th anniversary celebration