Seamen's House YMCA photographs
SCOPE AND CONTENTS OF THE COLLECTION
The Seamen's House photo collection contains primarily black and white images of interiors and exteriors scenes of the buildings occupied by the Bethelship Seamen's Branch in Brooklyn and the Seamen's House YMCA in Manhattan.
- YMCA of Greater New York. Seamen's House Branch (Organization)
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.
HISTORY OF THE SEAMEN'S HOUSE YMCA
Founded in 1921 as the Merchant Seamen’s Branch, this operation was dedicated to providing services to the sailors and crews of the U.S. Merchant Marine. In 1931, a large building was constructed at 550 West 20th Street, and the Seamen’s House clientele became more international. By the 1950s, Seamen’s House had weathered World War II and an influx of Coast Guard sailors, and had merged the operations of the Seamen’s House with those of the American Seamen’s Friend Society and the Seamen’s Christian Association. All the services, such as the pool, movie screenings, and books from library, were free. The YMCA charged only for rooms and meals.
By the mid-1960s, a decline in merchant shipping and other social factors combined to reduce the need for special services for seamen. At the same time, the state of New York began inquiries about the 1931 building and its adjacent laundry. The financial situation of Seamen’s House, coupled with the apparent decline in the need for its special mission, encouraged the Board of Directors to sell the property, realizing $2 million from the state in February of 1967. Seamen’s House moved to West 34th Street, adjacent to the Sloane House YMCA branch
After the move a number of alternatives to providing services to seamen were explored, including merging with the British Merchant Navy Club, and offering non-residential services through the new Port of New York terminal building. By 1970, the possibility of moving to the McBurney branch, located at 215 West 23rd Street, was introduced. The branch began serving seamen out of a “mobile unit”, which visited ships in port. By 1972 Seamen’s House, now officially referred to as the International Seamen’s Center, had relocated its offices and some programming to the McBurney YMCA, with a increasing emphasis on mobile services and ship visits. In 1974, merger talks began in earnest, and the Seamen’s House YMCA was formally absorbed into the McBurney YMCA.
The Brooklyn Association also operated a branch for sailors that opened in 1918 in a converted church in the Red Hook section and moved next door into a new building in 1927. The new building was constructed with funds donated in 1919 by Mrs. James Harvey Williams as a memorial to her husband. Known as the Bethelship Seamen's Branch, it closed and was sold in 1948 because of changing demographics and shipping industry economics. A vestige of the mission to provide services to the men and boys of the sea remains in the Prospect Park branch’s Seafarer’s Safe House, a twelve-unit affordable residential program in Brooklyn for retired sailors.
(Information taken from The YMCA at 150: A History of the YMCA of Greater New York, 1852-2002by Pamela Bayless, 2002; and from An Event on Mercer Street,by Terry Donoghue, 1951; and from History of the Brooklyn and Queens Young Men's Christian Association, 1853-1949by E. Clark Worman, 1952; and the YMCA Seamen's House records.)
.25 Cubic Feet (1 box)
Photographs, primarily from the period 1930-1960, of the Bethelship Seamen's Branch YMCA in Brooklyn and the Seamen's House YMCA branch in Manhattan. .
ORGANIZATION/ARRANGEMENT OF THE RECORDS
These documents are organized into the following sections:
- Bethelship Seamen's Branch, Brooklyn
- Seamen's House, New York
See Detailed Description section for box listing.
Processed by: Louise Merriam, May 2008.
Catalog Record ID number: 5285134
- Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Brooklyn and Queens Young Men’s Christian Association. . Bethelship Seamen's Branch.
- Manhattan (New York, N.Y.) Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Photographs Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Sailors Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Sailors -- United States. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Young Men's Christian associations -- Buildings Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Young Men's Christian associations -- New York (State) -- New York Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- YMCA OF GREATER NEW YORK SEAMEN'S HOUSE BRANCH:
- An Inventory of Its Photographs
- Finding aid prepared by Louise Merriam.
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note