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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.