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Brooklyn Central YMCA records

Identifier: Y.GNY.24


The Brooklyn YMCA records include Board of Managers minutes, financial reports, fund raising materials, printed brochures and other advertising material, correspondence, records of other Brooklyn YMCA branches (including the Bay Ridge branch) information about YMCA buildings, material about the merger with the New York YMCA in 1957, governing documents, program information, material related to specific events, branch studies and planning documents, and annual reports. Among the advertising materials are brochures and flyers from camps such as Camp Pratt, Camp McAlister and Heights and Hill Day Camp. The collection includes correspondence and reports focused on the Brooklyn Central branch's relationships with Brooklyn churches, local colleges and universities, and other YMCAs. The collection includes information about the educational programs conducted by the branch as well as publications about the history of the YMCA.


  • 1854-1999
  • Majority of material found within ( 1880s-1970s).


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 YMCA in Brooklyn, New York, founded in 1853, initially met at the Second Congregational Church, the Church of the Pilgrims, the Brooklyn Athenaeum, the Reformed Church on the Heights and other Brooklyn churches. After establishing formal rooms, the association was located in the Washington Building at the corner of Court and Joraleman Streets, but it rapidly outgrew this facility as well as second location. In 1865 the organization leased a building at 80-82 Fulton Street at the corner of Gallatin Place. In 1872 it moved again -- this time across the street to larger rental accommodations. In 1885 the Brooklyn YMCA dedicated its first purpose-built building, at 502 Fulton Street -- the Brooklyn Central YMCA. The new building included a "swimming bath" 14 feet wide, 45 feet long and 5 feet deep that was reported to be the first swimming pool in a YMCA facility. The branch was involved in other sports "firsts": In 1896 its basketball team participated in the first professional game against the Trenton, New Jersey, YMCA. The branch also hosted the first national YMCA swimming championships.

The Brooklyn association was known for the extent and fervor of its religious work, holding many weekly prayer meetings and conducting local evangelizing work that targeted everyone, not just young men. A long-serving General Secretary, Edwin F. See, articulated the sentiment of many leaders and benefactors of the Brooklyn association when he said, "The religious work must permeate all phases and departments of the Association." See directed the establishment of extensive Bible training and study courses and developed outreach programs to men working in factories, conducting meetings and hymn sings during the lunch hour. This effort to reach men where they worked extended to commercial travellers, shopworkers and railroad workers. The Brooklyn Association was also involved in missionary work abroad and maintained links with many Protestant churches in Brooklyn.

In 1915, the Brooklyn Association dedicated its new Central building, known as "the largest YMCA in the world". Located on the block bordered by Hason Place, Fort Greene Place and South Elliott Place, the building project was funded by generous gifts from donors such as Mrs. William Van Rensselaer Smith, members of the Pratt family and John D. Rockefeller. In addition to building the new Central branch, the Brooklyn Association purchased a new site for the Twenty-sixth Ward branch and began fund raising for an expanded Prospect Park branch at the same time. In the years following World War I, the Brooklyn Association expanded its focus beyond its roots, conducting Americanization programs targeted at immigrants, most of whom were not evangelical Protestants. In 1924, the association changed its name to the Brooklyn and Queens YMCA to reflect the branch's expansion into the neighboring borough. In 1957 the Brooklyn and Queens YMCA merged with the New York YMCA to become the YMCA of Greater New York.

After weathering some tough financial storms during the Depression, and significantly changed Brooklyn demographics, the Central branch ended the 20th century operating from a storefront in Brooklyn Heights. However, in 2005 it opened a new building on Atlantic Avenue, funded in part by a significant grant from the Dodge Family Foundation. The branch name changed to the Dodge branch of the YMCA of Greater New York. By 2012, Brooklyn was home to eight branches; Queens had six.

(Information taken from History of the Brooklyn and Queens Young Men's Christian Association, 1853-1949by E. Clark Worman.)


24.4 Cubic Feet (58 boxes)


Collected minutes, reports, correspondence, pamphlets, flyers, governing documents, fund raising material, program information and publications primarily from the Brooklyn Central branch of the YMCA of Greater New York.


These documents are organized into the following sections:

  1. Board of Directors.
  2. Executive Records.
  3. Building.
  4. Finance and Operations.
  5. Programs, Events and Activities.

Physical Location

See Detailed Description section for box listing.


Researchers may wish to review finding aids in the collections of the Brooklyn Historical Society: Louise Hasbrook Brooklyn Navy YMCA collection; Guide to the Brooklyn YMCA Central Branch publications.

Processing Information:

Processed by: Louise Merriam, July 2009.

Catalog Record ID number: 6258658

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

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Kautz Family YMCA Archives Collecting Area