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Minneapolis YMCA General Administrative Records

Identifier: Y.MPL.006


Administration, committee minutes, correspondence, reports, campaigns, World Service activities finances, programs, marketing and public relations materials, organizational history documents, and other records documenting the work and the evolution of the Minneapolis YMCA, covering the years of 1866 to 2011. The bulk of the series material covers the years 1970 to 1999.


  • 1854-2021
  • Majority of material found within ( 1970-1999)


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 Minneapolis YMCA is organized by Russell Conwell; a young lawyer recently arrived to the Minneapolis area. Conwell, with a few other local businessmen, begins a noon-day prayer meeting in his office. The first YMCA offices are located in the Center Block building at Intersection of Hennepin and Nicollet Avenues (assembly and meeting rooms).
The first Articles of Incorporation are adopted on June 11, 1877. The organization's legal name is "Young Men's Christian Association of Minneapolis."
An amendment to the first Articles of Incorporation is recorded in the office of the Registrar of Deeds of Hennepin County, on July 9, 1883. The organization's legal name is changed to "The Young Men's Christian Association of the City of Minneapolis."
The first boys-specific meetings begin as a Friday night prayer group. An official Boys Branch/Junior Department for Boys is established later the same year, with a minimum age of 12.
As the original paperwork was not filed properly with the state, on July 15, 1891 the organization's paperwork is re-filed under the new act passed through the state legislature recognizing defectively organized existing corporations, such as the YMCA of Minneapolis.
The first building built and owned by the organization on the corner of Tenth Street and Mary Place is completed. The land was purchased in 1887.
The first Minneapolis YMCA Boys Camp is held on the shores of Lake Minnetonka, with 47 boys attending.
The first Minneapolis YMCA-owned resident camp, Icaghowan, opens with five acres on Green Lake near Chisago City, Minnesota.
Hi-Y Clubs are organized in the fall. Short for "High School Y," Hi-Y clubs are designed to extend a high standard of Christian living among the students of each of the five Minneapolis high schools. Participation is limited to boys selected for their leadership in academics, athletics, social life and other student activities.
World War I affects the YMCA both on the national and local level. In Minneapolis, more than 185 men and women are recruited for active War service of the Y. Creation of programs during this time are designed to aid in the war effort, including the increase of civilian food supplies and the University of Minnesota YMCA student army program.
The University of Minnesota YMCA, established in 1887 as a separate entity, joins the Minneapolis YMCA organization, serving as one of several branches serving the Minneapolis community.
The main branch of the Minneapolis YMCA, Central/Downtown, moves to a new building at 9th and Mary Place (now LaSalle Avenue). Full facility and residence.
Camp Menogyn, Chippewa for "to grow everywhere", is added to the YMCA Minneapolis camping program. Wilder than Camp Icaghowan, this camp is located 35 miles north of Grand Marais, Minnesota.
Camp Warren is purchased - two hundred acres of virgin timberland near Eveleth, Minnesota, near Half Moon and Pleasant Lakes.
Camp Ihduhapi is established. Totally 31.18 acres, the heavily wooded site located on Lake Independence has a 600-foot bathing beach.
A book written by YMCA insiders S. Wirt Wiley and Florence Lehmann, entitled "Builders of Men: A History of the Minneapolis Young Men's Christian Association: 1866-1936" is published, outlining the history of the organization up to 1936.
Minneapolis becomes the first Association to establish the Christmas Tree Sales program – selling Christmas trees to support YMCA camp opportunities for disadvantaged children. The program is created by John Werness, a member of the first Y-Men's Club here in Minneapolis. The program spreads across the YMCA footprint, raising more than $20 million worldwide by 1995.
YMCA Youth in Government program is established in Minnesota, based on the New York YMCA program. The original purpose of the program is to prepare young men for political leadership by providing "guidance, training, and experience in theory and practice of determining public policy."
Indian Guide program is established in the Twin Cities. Designed for grade-school age boys, this program is created to foster relationships between fathers and sons by providing joint activities focused on learning and engaging with Native American cultures.
The first day camp property – Green Triangle – is established on a few acres of Camp Committee member Don Willis' farm, near Orono, Minnesota. It becomes the first day camp recognized by the American Camp(ing) Association, a community of camp professionals who ensure the quality of camp programs.
Girls are integrated into the Minneapolis YMCA Youth programs.
The YMCA Minneapolis executes a reorganization, recognizing "a growing and expanding YMCA serving in a progressive metropolitan community must be forward thinking and flexible enough to meet the challenges of today as well as those of tomorrow..." Amendments to the Association's By-Laws and Articles of Incorporation are applied. One of the major changes involves another name change, this time to "Young Men's Christian Association of Metropolitan Minneapolis." Major changes include: voting rights were extended to additional members; the creation of a governing body of 600 members; creation of a Governor's Council, which includes "key" men within the community to represent the Minneapolis community at large; closer coordination of the organization and the branch locations; Branch Board of Management Chairmen become voting members on the General Board' and leadership responsibilities of the Association's chief lay officer is divided between a "President of the Association" and a "Chairman of the General Board."
The organization celebrates 100 years serving the Minneapolis community.
Urban Department is formed. The program is designed to provide inner city youth with a variety of positive activities, experiences, and role-models. Junior Sports and the Summer Olympics programs are offshoots of this group.
Model United Nations program begins. A sister program to the Minnesota Youth in Government, the Model UN focuses on conflict resolution, art of negotiation, diplomacy, and a respect for diversity.
The Downtown branch full facility building opens at 30 S. Ninth Street in downtown Minneapolis.
To celebrate 140 years of service to the Minneapolis community, a book entitled "Breaking New Ground, Building Strong Lives: 140 Years of Youth Work with the Minneapolis YMCA" is published. Written by Paul Hillmer, the book outlines the history of the Minneapolis YMCA, focusing on the Boys' work and youth services.
The YMCA Minneapolis and YMCA St. Paul merge on January 1, 2012, becoming the fifth largest YMCAs in the nation. The YMCA of Greater Twin Cities operates 22 full-facility YMCAs, six community program sites, seven overnight camps, 10 day camps and more than 90 child-care, preschool and school-age care locations across 13 counties stretching into Western Wisconsin.
The YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities changes its name to YMCA of the North to be more reflective of the organization's presence beyond the Twin Cities metro region.

Information taken from Breaking New Ground, Building Strong Lives: 140 Years of Youth Work with the Minneapolis YMCA by Paul Hillmer, 2006; from Builders of Men: A History of the Minneapolis Young Men's Christian Association: 1866-1936by S. Wirt Wiley and Florence Lehmann; and from the collection).


77.5 Cubic Feet (100 boxes)


Records documenting the administration and evolution of the YMCA of Metropolitan Minneapolis organization, including committee minutes, finances, campaigns, general correspondence, reports, international and World Service activities, programs, and marketing and public relations materials.


These documents are organized into the following sections:

  1. Annual Reports
  2. Board Records
  3. Budget and Financial Records
  4. Correspondence Records
  5. Department and Committee Records
  6. Fundraising Campaign Records
  7. International/World Service Records
  8. Marketing and Public Relations Records
  9. Miscellaneous Administrative Records
  10. Personnel and Human Resources Records
  11. Programs, Events, and Activities Records

Physical Location

See Detailed Description section for box listing.


See also the Publications and ephemera records of Metropolitan Minneapolis, separately catalogued in the Kautz Family YMCA Archives.

Processing Information:

Processed by: Jesse Harpestad, Kathryn Oosterhuis, and Alex Bentley, March 2014.

Catalog Record ID number: 6446019

An Inventory of its Records
Finding aid prepared by Kathryn Oosterhuis and Alex Bentley.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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Collecting Area Details

Contact The Kautz Family YMCA Archives Collecting Area