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Paul B. Anderson and family papers

Identifier: Y.USA.86


The collection includes materials that were donated over several years. The first donation came from Paul and Margaret Anderson and included a mix of Paul and Margaret’s personal papers from 1910 to 1980, including correspondence, articles, and publications.

Later, Mary Glenn (Paul and Margaret Anderson's daughter) donated papers that had belonged to her parents, her aunt and uncle (Roberta and Harvey Smith), and herself and her husband William Glenn. The material includes more personal papers of Paul and Margaret Anderson, records related to Harvey Smith's service in Siberia and Bulgaria in the 1910s and 1920s, Roberta Smith's correspondence from Paul and information about his YMCA work, and William Glenn's work with the YMCA in Uruguay and Turkey and various YMCAs in the United States. Additionally, there are many publications and mailings related to the YMCA of the USA's World Service and international work.

Together the material in the collection reflects Paul B. Anderson and members of his family's long-standing engagement with the YMCA in the United States and its international work.


  • 1900 - 2012


Conditions Governing Access

Open for use in the Elmer L. Andersen Library reading room.

Conditions Governing Use

This collection may be 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 necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials. Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law.


Paul B. Anderson (1894-1985) Paul Anderson was born on December 27, 1894, in Madrid, Iowa. His parents were B. Frank Anderson and Emma (Seashore) Anderson. In 1910, he started college at the University of Iowa. He left before completing his studies to work for the International Committee of the YMCA as a private secretary to the Senior YMCA Secretary in China, Charles Harvey, from 1913 to 1917. In May 1917, he became the private secretary to John R. Mott in Russia. Paul Anderson was then assigned to lead the YMCA War Prisoners’ Aid in Russia and Siberia. He returned to the United States in December 1918 and worked to recruit people to work under Ethan Colton, the director of YMCA work in Siberia. In 1919, Paul Anderson returned to his studies and was able to graduate from the University of Iowa in 1920.

In May 1920, he was sent to Europe by the YMCA to help the Russian people. He traveled all over Europe but was based in Germany from 1920 to 1924, where he helped establish the Russian Correspondence School in 1921 and the Russian language YMCA Press. In 1924, the YMCA moved the headquarters of its service to Russians from Germany to France. Paul Anderson became the managing director of the YMCA Press in Paris. Paul Anderson married Margaret Holmes in Iowa on July 8, 1925. After their marriage, Paul and Margaret continued to live in Paris. Eventually, they had two children, Mary and John Peter. Throughout this time, Paul continued to work for the YMCA and the YMCA Press. In 1930, Paul Anderson helped establish the Superior Technical Institute. In 1938, he was appointed YMCA Senior Secretary for Europe. Shortly after the outbreak of World War Two, Margaret and the children returned to the United States. Paul Anderson remained in France until 1941. He returned to Europe to help repatriate American Prisoners of War in 1944 as the YMCA POW Exchange Representative to the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force. In 1945, he became the Educational Advisor to United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation helping displaced persons. He became the Associate Executive Secretary for World Service in 1947. Paul Anderson retired from the YMCA in December 1961.

In addition to his work with the YMCA, Paul Anderson was involved in the ecumenical movement. He traveled to the Soviet Union as a member and interpreter for the National Council of Churches exchange in 1956; it was the first formal exchange between the Orthodox Church in the Soviet Union and the churches of the west. On a later trip to the Soviet Union in 1956, he was an American representative of the Church of England Delegation. After he retired from the YMCA in 1961, Anderson became a consultant on the staff of the National Council of Churches. He served as a consultant for research, interpretation, and counsel on international affairs related to the Soviet Union and the Eastern Orthodox Church for several years. In 1976, Paul and Margaret moved to Black Mountain, North Carolina. Paul B. Anderson died on June 26, 1985.

Margaret Anderson (1900-1998) Margaret Holmes was born in Whiting, Iowa on January 24, 1900. After graduating from the University of Iowa, she became a teacher and worked for the YWCA. She married Paul B. Anderson on July 8, 1925. After her marriage, she moved to Paris where Paul was working for the YMCA providing services to Russian refugees. Margaret and Paul had two children, Mary and John Peter. Shortly after the outbreak of World War Two, Margaret and the children returned to the United States. In 1976, Margaret and Paul moved to Black Mountain, North Carolina. After Paul died in 1985, Margaret continued to live in North Carolina until her death on July 12, 1998.

Harvey Smith (1886-1973) Harvey Smith was born on February 22, 1886, in Brandon, Wisconsin.He graduated from the University of Wisconsin College of Agriculture in 1911. In 1919 he began working for the YMCA. He was a secretary of the YMCA in Vladivostok, Russia, from 1919 to 1921. He returned to the United States in 1921 and studied at the University of Chicago. In 1922, he went to Sofia, Bulgaria to establish a YMCA Vocational School for Russian refugees. He served as the Director of the school. The school opened in November 1922 and continued until April 1924, with 677 students graduating over the course of three terms. Despite its success, the school was unable to secure enough funding and was eventually discontinued. Harvey returned to the United States in 1924. From 1931 to his retirement, Harvey worked for the Wisconsin Electric Power Company. On February 6, 1932, he married Robert Anderson (Paul B. Anderson's sister). Harvey and Roberta had two children, Emily and David. Harvey Smith died on June 22, 1973.

Roberta Smith (1901-1997) Roberta Anderson was born on October 23, 1901, in Madrid, Iowa. Her parents were B. Frank Anderson and Emma (Seashore) Anderson. She was one of eight children (Paul B. Anderson was her older brother). She graduated from the University of Iowa in 1924. Roberta was involved in the YWCA and worked for the YWCA in Japan from 1926-1930 teaching English. She married Harvey G. Smith on February 6, 1932, in Brandon, Wisconsin. The couple eventually had two children, Emily and David. Roberta remained active in the YWCA, operated a strawberry farm with her husband, and was a freelance writer. Roberta Smith died on October 12, 1997.

William E. Glenn (1924-2016) William Glenn was born on March 22, 1924, in Erie, Pennsylvania. He served in the military from 1943 to 1946. In 1951, he received a B.A. in Education from Allegheny College and married Mary Roberta Anderson (Paul and Margaret Anderson’s daughter). William and Mary eventually had four children. In 1952, he started his career in the YMCA as a Youth Director in Oil City, Pennsylvania. In 1954, he began working for the state of Pennsylvania YMCAs. In 1957, he became a fraternal secretary for the International Committee of the YMCAs of the United States and Canada. From 1957 to 1961, he was stationed at the Montevideo YMCA and served as the Associate Director of the Instituto Technico and Associate Director of the South American Confederation. In 1961, he went to Istanbul, Turkey to serve as the Director of the Dersane YMCA. In 1963, he returned to the United States and became the Executive Director of the Meadville YMCA in Pennsylvania until 1970 when he left the YMCA to work for the Chicago Boys Clubs. He worked as a Campaign Director on the staff of the National Council of the YMCA in the 1980s. In the early 1990s, he participated in an exchange program sponsored by Illinois State University and went to Vladimir, Russia. He was later sponsored for return visits to Russia by the International Division of the YMCA of the USA to assist in founding a new YMCA. William Glenn died in 2016.

Mary Glenn Mary Roberta Anderson was born to Paul and Margaret Anderson. Harvey and Roberta (Anderson) Smith were her aunt and uncle. Mary married William Glenn in 1951.

Information taken from:

"Roberta A. Smith." The Journal Times (Racine, Wisconsin). October 15, 1997. (accessed February 1, 2023).

"Harvey Smith." Kenosha News (Kenosha, Wisconsin). June 23, 1973. (accessed February 1, 2023).

"Margaret H. Anderson." Asheville Citizen-Times (Asheville, North Carolina). July 22, 1998. (accessed February 1, 2023).

Materials in the collection.


12.9 Cubic Feet (15 boxes)

Language of Materials



Personal papers of Paul B. Anderson and material from other members of his family including Margaret Anderson, Harvey and Roberta (Anderson) Smith, and William and Mary (Anderson) Glenn. The collection is primarily related to Paul B. Anderson and the YMCA's international work.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Paul B. and Margaret Anderson papers series was donated to the archives in the 1980s by Margaret Anderson. The other material in this collection was donated by Mary (Anderson) Glenn in 2018.

Related Materials

The following related materials are available at other archival repositories:

Paul B. Anderson Papers, 1909-1988. University of Illinois Archives.

Processing Information

Processed by Jacyln Willems in 2022.

Includes material from fast processing project FP112 and accession numbers Y20180328 and Y20180125.

An Inventory of their Papers
Alex Bentley and archives staff
September 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Kautz Family YMCA Archives Collecting Area