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Carlton Avenue YMCA records

Identifier: Y.GNY.25


Included in the Carlton Avenue branch collection are pamphlets and other publicity materials, annual dinner programs, reports related to the closing of the branch and the controversy over the firing of the executive secretary, newsletters and magazines issued by the branch, and information about program attendance and building specifications.


  • Creation: 1903-2014.


Language of Materials


Use of Materials:

This collection is protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright, ownership, and to obtain all the necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials.


The Carlton Avenue branch of the Brooklyn Young Men's Christian Association was opened in 1902 under the leadership of executive secretary Charles H. Bullock, who had organized a branch for African Americans in his native Charlottesville, Virginia. He was asked to come to Brooklyn to organize the first such branch in Brooklyn, reflecting the national YMCA's growing interest in serving specific populations such as immigrants, railroad workers, boys, and African Americans. The work was funded by several well-known philanthropists, including George Foster Peabody, Julius Rosenwald, John D. Rockefeller, and members of the African American community in Brooklyn. After starting its operations in a brownstone at 405 Carlton Avenue, in Fort Greene, the branch opened a typical YMCA building in 1918. The structure boasted 70 dormitory rooms, a swimming pool, bowling alleys, showers, meeting rooms, game rooms and a social lounge. It was, according to the Brooklyn Eagle, the second largest "colored YMCA" in the world. Women were welcome at this branch, and could participate in physical education classes designed for them. The branch was known for the prowess of its baseball team. In its early years, the branch focused on helping young men who had migrated from the south to New York, offering an employment service and other programs designed to help newcomers adjust to the city.

The branch closed in 1955, reflecting the decline in the need for a special branch for African Americans, who had moved away from the immediate neighborhood around the branch and were now served by other YMCA programs and buildings. The new residents of the neighborhood, many of whom had moved to New York from Puerto Rico, did not typically participate in YMCA programs. Moreover, the Carlton building was showing its age, and the Brooklyn and Queens YMCA was not eager to put money into a branch whose services might overlap with other branches close by. Finally, a controversy in the early 1950s over the firing of the executive secretary Herbert T. Miller, who had held the post since 1941, split the board and made cordial relations with the larger association difficult. As of 2012, the former YMCA building was operating as a nursing home.


.25 Cubic Feet (1 box)


Collected brochures, clippings, branch publications and reports from the Carlton YMCA branch in Brooklyn..

Physical Location

See Detailed Description section for box listing.

Note on Language in the Collection and this Guide

Please note that some of the descriptive language found in this collection guide reflects and re-uses the words and ideas of the people and organizations that created the material. Historical records represent the opinions and actions of their creators and the society in which they were produced. This historical language was retained in cases where we believe it provides important context about the materials, is a Library of Congress Subject Heading, or is the official title of an item, organization, or event. As such, please be aware that this material and the guide describing it contains racial and other language and/or imagery that is outdated, offensive and/or harmful.

Processing Information:

Processed by: Louise Merriam, January 2012.

Catalog Record ID number: 6266955

An Inventory of Its Records
Finding aid prepared by Louise Merriam.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Revision Statements

  • 2021-12-17: Language was changed to reflect more current and respectful terminology and conventions, e.g. "African Americans" instead of "African-Americans" and elimination of the term "colored" as a reference to Black people except when directly quoting from historical references. A content warning note was also added regarding language that was retained.

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Kautz Family YMCA Archives Collecting Area