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YMCA papers

Identifier: 443

Scope and Content

The collection primarily covers the years 1927-1962 and contains correspondence, student program files, committee minutes, scrapbooks relating to the YMCA, newsletters and pamphlets.


  • 1927-1981


Language of Materials


Use of Materials

Items in this collection do not circulate and may be used in-house only.


Requests for permission to quote from the YMCA papers should be arranged with the University of Minnesota Archives head.

Historical Note

The University of Minnesota YMCA branch was established on February 12, 1887. Its objective was "to promote growth in grace and Christian fellowship among its members, and aggressive Christian work, especially by and for students." It was originally housed on the corner of 13th Avenue and 4th Street SE in Minneapolis.

By 1901, student services and programs were initiated at the University by the YMCA. A student employment bureau and a student loan fund were established. Service projects and bible study remained fundamental aspects of the YMCA until the beginning of World War I when social and political issues became of interest.

During World War I, the Y turned its attention toward servicemen, offering recreation programs, making hospital visits and distributing publications. In the 1920s, the Y provided counseling services for students, ran freshman camps, conferences and retreats, and provided services to foreign students, in addition to managing its employment bureau. In 1923, the YMCA, by then housed in the Minnesota Union (later Nicholson Hall), moved to a new building on the corner of 15th and University Avenues.

In the 1930s, the activities sponsored by the Y included Saturday night mixers, leadership groups, Peace Caravans, and Religion in Life and Fraternity Forums. By the 1940s and 1950s, many of the services provided by the YMCA to University students were absorbed by the Dean of Students and the student union. Religious foundations took over many of the ministries that the Y had traditionally carried out and the Student Activities Bureau took over the freshman camps. Services continued to foreign students and the Association of Freshman Council was established to attract freshman leadership for the YMCA.

Interest in the YMCA declined during the 1950s and 1960s. Membership decreased from 440 in 1950 to less than 100 in the 1960s. New programs initiated in the 1960s included Project Motivation, which provided University students opportunities to work with culturally disadvantaged children in schools on the near north side. Project Friendship provided assistance to the Minnesota Children's Reception and Diagnostic Center at Lino Lakes. The Conference on Values in Higher Education was established to stimulate dialogue between students and faculty on goals of the University. Other programs included the Freshman Leadership Conference, the Conference on the Military, a program designed to assist students in ROTC getting ready to enter the service, the Freshman Co-ed Council, sponsored with the YWCA, and the Religious Growth Program.

In 1982, the Y moved to its present location at 1901 University Avenue. Community outreach continues to be its cornerstone.

Information taken from "A Short History of the University of Minnesota YMCA, 1887-1965 and Present Trends and Programs," May 1965 in the YMCA Information File located in University Archives.


15 Cubic Feet (11 record boxes and 2 flat boxes)


Collection contains the papers of the YMCA at the University of Minnesota.

Other Finding Aid Available

A finding aid with a contents list is available in University Archives.

Related Materials in University of Minnesota Archives

Henry F. Nachtrieb papers

YWCA papers

University of Minnesota. Office of the Dean of Students papers

University of Minnesota. Student Activities Bureau papers

YMCA papers, 1927-1981
Karen Klinkenberg
July 2005
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Collecting Area Details

Contact The University Archives Collecting Area