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YMCA educational work records

Identifier: Y.USA.11


Material documenting the YMCA's work in the area of education falls into two broad categories: records of the YMCA Educational Department and records of YMCA summer schools and training institutes.

The records of the Educational Department consist of annual reports and prospectuses (1894-1907); pamphlets and reports relating to educational programs at both the national and local levels; minutes of the educational service committee (1919-1923) and education cost studies. Also in the collection are records relating to the United YMCA Schools, including reports of the Committee of 146; minutes of the board of governors of the Education Council from 1919-1929; promotional pamphlets; coursebooks; instructors manuals; enrollment certificates and scholarship materials.

The records of the summer schools and training institutes relate primarily to Silver Bay. They include programs listing class offerings, annual reports, historical sketches, yearbooks, promotional materials, theses and professional papers presented at Silver Bay; also included are programs, itineraries and correspondence relating to an annual conference on industrial relations. There are also materials relating to other schools and institutes, including industrial relations conference materials from Blue Ridge, South Carolina, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin and Estes Park, Colorado ; and conference pamphlets and reports from the Pacific and Chesapeake Summer Schools.

Also part of the education records are miscellaneous subject materials, consisting of publication files on adult education, drug abuse, communism and religious education.


  • Creation: 1885-1993
  • Creation: Majority of material found within ( 1920-1960).


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.


Education and edification has been at the heart of the YMCA's mission since its founding in 1844. Early associations frequently featured libraries and reading rooms and regularly sponsored lectures. By the late 1860s, evening classes had become a regular part of the program at most associations. Subjects were varied and included foreign languages, music, penmanship, physiology, Bible topics, and more. While these lecture courses were mainly recreational in purpose, during the 1880s, several associations experimented with programs more specifically oriented towards the improvement of young men in the trades and factory work. The 1890s saw the growth of these industrial education classes, offered in technical and vocational subjects.

The growth in educational programs soon prompted demand for guidance at the national level. The Educational Department was established in 1891 with George Hodge as its first secretary. The education work overseen by the department grew dramatically after World War I with the establishment of the United YMCA Schools in associations and colleges to provide vocational, business, and professional education to returning veterans. The Education Council (acting as the sponsoring committee for the Education Department) was created in 1919 to administer the work of the YMCA Schools. These schools continued until the late 1930s, when many of the colleges separated themselves from the YMCA and budget restraints limited programs at local associations.

The objects of the YMCA's educational efforts were not limited only to its members. The organization also established numerous training institutes and schools for its own staff. The first of these was the annual conference held at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin beginning in 1884. The earliest YMCA training facility represented in these records is the Silver Bay Association for Christian Conference and Training, which was founded in 1902 by Luther Wishard and other YMCA leaders on Lake George, New York. Separately incorporated from the YMCA, it nevertheless functioned primarily as a place for YMCA education. Training courses for secretaries began there in 1903, and in 1913 the YMCA formally established the Eastern Association School there for professional education. A number of other training centers (often called summer schools) were established in the early twentieth century: Lake Couchiching (Canada) in 1905; Chesapeake Summer School Maryland (for African American secretaries) in 1907; Estes Park, Colorado in 1908; Blue Ridge, North Carolina in 1912; Asilomar, California (also called Pacific Summer School) in 1914; and Seabeck, Washington, in 1919.


15.6 Cubic Feet (17 boxes)


Records documenting education programs of the YMCA, including material from the Educational Department, the United YMCA Schools, conference centers, such as Silver Bay, New York and Blue Ridge, North Carolina, and programs at the local association level. Materials include course outlines and syllabi, reports, information on local education classes, and papers of department secretaries.


These documents are organized into the following sections:

  1. Educational Department
  2. Councils and Commissions
  3. Association of YMCA Schools and Colleges
  4. Local Education Programs
  5. Religious Education
  6. Schools and Institutes
  7. Conference Centers
  8. United YMCA Schools
  9. Adult Education
  10. Resource Files


Records pertaining to the YMCA's work with men working in industrial fields, including records of the Silver Bay Conference on Human Relations in Industry can be found in the Industrial Work Records, separately cataloged in the Kautz Family YMCA Archives.

Processing Information:

Catalog Record ID number: 4447786

Materials from the Silver Bay Conference on Human Relations in Industry have been removed from the Education Department records and added to the Industrial work records. The Silver Bay conference was sponsored directly by the Industrial Department and its subsequent organizations, better associating the materials with the Industrial work records.

An Inventory
Finding aid prepared by Kautz Family YMCA Archives Staff.
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