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YMCA biographical files

Identifier: Y.USA.12


The biographical files contain information on over 5,000 prominent YMCA of the USA leaders over a wide spectrum, from lay to professional, at the local, regional and national levels, working abroad as well as in the United States. Also represented in the files are a number of non-YMCA people who were prominent in world affairs, such as Woodrow Wilson and Martin Luther King, Jr. The amount and type of material for each individual varies greatly. For some individuals, the files contain only a few basic biographical facts. Others are represented by substantial collections of personal papers or organizational records, including diaries, manuscripts, scrapbooks, office correspondence, press releases, reports, and other material. Most files contain ready reference-type material such as resumes and vitae, obituaries, news clippings, and biographical sketches. The files were originally compiled by the YMCA Historical Library as part of a biographical history project and have been augmented over the years by archives staff. The collection contains material that is nearly all analog / paper-based; there are 2 digital files.


  • 1853-2004.


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Analog (non-digital) material open for use in the Elmer L. Andersen Library reading room. The digital files are available upon request. Please contact the Kautz Family YMCA Archives to arrange access to these 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.


Brief biographical sketches are included in the Detailed Description section of the finding aid for selected individuals (primarily those for whom the biographical files contain a substantial collection of personal papers). For additional biographical information, see the actual file for the individual in question.


245 boxes (Approx. 90 cu. ft.)

50.1 Megabytes (2 files)


Biographical material as well as small collections of personal papers of prominent YMCA of the USA leaders.


The files are arranged alphabetically by the individual's last name.


Photographs of many of the individuals represented in these biographical files are available in the Kautz Family YMCA Archives photograph collection.

Additional personal papers of the following individuals represented in these biographical files are separately cataloged in the Kautz Family YMCA Archives:

  1. Anderson, Karl Brooke.
  2. Anderson, Paul B.
  3. Barnett, Eugene Epperson.
  4. Bishop, Merlin.
  5. Brainerd, Cephas.
  6. Brunger, Harry.
  7. Carey, Cliff.
  8. Chapman, Irvin C. ("Ernie").
  9. Colton, Ethan T.
  10. Cousins, Solon
  11. Custer, John.
  12. Douwsma, Gerrit B.
  13. Fisher, John.
  14. Fletcher, Fremont.
  15. Goncharoff, Nicholas.
  16. Hall, Lawrence K.
  17. Hanson, Agassiz Wayne.
  18. Hardy, James.
  19. Harlan, Robert.
  20. Harmon, Francis Stuart.
  21. Kiehne, Frank.
  22. Kinnamon, Ron.
  23. Lansdale, Herbert Parker and family.
  24. Lavake, Steven.
  25. Lerrigo, George.
  26. Limbert, Paul.
  27. Lockwood, William.
  28. Ludwig, Marvin.
  29. Lyon, Adrian.
  30. Lyon, David Willard.
  31. McBurney, Robert R.
  32. McClelland, Dalton Finley.
  33. Maguire, Bruce.
  34. Marcile, Neal.
  35. Marsh, Leo.
  36. Masland, Frank E. III
  37. Minard, Herbert L.
  38. Morse, Richard Clay.
  39. Mott, John Raleigh.
  40. Ober, Charles Kellogg.
  41. Pence, Owen Earle.
  42. Pettit, Clifford W.
  43. Shipp, Frederick B.
  44. Sibley, Harper.
  45. Sorenson, Roy.
  46. Sproul, J. Edward.
  47. Stange, Karl.
  48. Tucker, Norman S.
  49. Tobias, Channing.
  50. Torrence, Edgar.
  51. Underwood, Herbert G.
  52. Urice, Jay A.
  53. Weidensall, Robert.
  54. White, J. Gustav.
  55. Wilber, Francis.
  56. Wiley, Samuel Wirt.
  57. Wood, Ralph.
  58. Yergen, Max.

Processing Information:

Catalog Record ID number: 4439189

The collection was originally divided into three separate series: "Bio-A" consisted of individuals for whom the collection included more than one folder of materials, providing significant documentation of their career. "Bio-B" comprised the individuals with a single folder of material, and "Bio-C" was a separate group consisting of individuals who had been involved in foreign work. These series were later combined into one, large group arranged alphabetically. Several extensive collections of personal papers formerly included in the biographical files have been removed and separately cataloged. See the related materials list for a list of individuals represented in these biographical files for whom the Archives has separate collections of personal papers.

4,957 entries (some for more than one individual) as of June 2009

The papers of Darius A. Davis, formerly part of this collection, were removed and recataloged as a separate collection, along with an additional accession of correspondence, in February 2014. Accession numbers Y20201028, Y20100307, Y20110420, Y20130613, Y20131009, and Y20121120 were added December 2021. Y20101007 added May 2022. Y20220103 added February 2023.

An Inventory
Finding aid prepared by YMCA Staff.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Revision Statements

  • 2021-12-28: Language was changed to reflect more current and respectful terminology and conventions, e.g. capitalization of the word "Black" in reference to people, and eliminating the use of the term "Black" as a noun referring to people. Text was was updated to more clearly indicate when harmful/outdated language is being quoted from original sources for historical purposes, vs. supplied by the Archives.
  • June 2023: Revised to include new materials

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Kautz Family YMCA Archives Collecting Area