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YMCA yearbooks, directories, and proceedings

Identifier: Y.USA.56


Published annual directories and reports of the body that coordinated or oversaw YMCA work for North America, and later the United States. While the content varies significantly, they consistently include lists of YMCAs existing during that year and employed staff members, as well as those serving in leadership positions at regional and national levels. Most also include statistical charts with such data as number and type of members, types of programs and numbers of participants, although other information varies greatly over the years. Volumes from the earliest years are in the form of proceedings of the annual convention, consisting primarily of reports from the various delegates about the progress of YMCA work across the continent. In later years, the publications, then called "year books," included reports from the various programs and departments. Beginning in the early 1980s, much of the narrative content was eliminated and the volumes include only officer and staff directories and statistical data. After 2002, some of the data is available only in digital form.


  • 1854-2014


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Open for use in the Elmer L. Andersen Library reading room.

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 of the USA is the national body of the U.S. American arm of the Young Men's Christian Association. Organized June 6, 1844 in London, England, the YMCA was initially intended to be a young businessmen's organization dedicated to evangelism, social welfare, and relief services. Originally this evangelizing took the form of libraries, lecture courses, and social activities. The first North American chapters were established in 1851 in Montreal and Boston. The idea quickly took root and by the time the first "Annual Convention of Young Men's Christian Associations of the United States and British Provinces" was held in 1854 there were fourteen American associations present.

The YMCA in America continued to grow and take on a character of its own. In America, with its large immigrant populations, the associations were focused on "the promotion of evangelical religion, the cultivation of Christian sympathy, and the improvement of the mental and spiritual condition of young men." Throughout the 1850s, local Ys would host lectures on a variety of topics to stimulate the minds of young men and would send out men to preach on street corners in order to promote Christian values. In 1856 the Brooklyn, New York Association instituted a physical education program in order to provide a more holistic approach to the development of young men. Also in 1856 the first bricks were laid for what was to become the Student YMCAs.

Throughout the years the nature of the YMCA's work grew more complex until the American Civil War (1861-1865). Many local associations did not survive this conflict and those that did experienced severe declines in membership. The YMCA, with the New York City association taking the lead, quickly rebounded. New YMCAs were established to serve specific populations, including African Americans, students, and railroad workers. YMCA colleges were founded and specific departments such as boy's work and the industrial division were formed.

Local associations have always maintained administrative and financial autonomy. Starting in 1854, annual national conventions, held under the auspices of the Executive Committee, were in charge of coordination on the national level. In 1879 the Executive Committee changed its name to the International Committee and in 1883 was incorporated as the permanent, centralized agency for the American YMCA movement. This was possible due to the many programs established and the number of associations established in the United States and Canada.

In 1912 the Canadian associations split from the International Committee and formed their own organization. In 1923 the domestic work of the International Committee was taken over by the newly formed General Board (later National Board). The International Committee continued until 1936 when it was absorbed by the National Council. In 1981, following the move of the headquarters from New York to Chicago, the organization incorporated under the name YMCA of the USA. The various name changes reflect the complexity and growth of this national organization. Each time a new initiative was begun or an national crisis was faced the YMCA in America reflected these changes within its national structure.


180 Volumes

69.13 Megabytes (20 digital files)


Annual publications of the body that coordinated or oversaw YMCA work for North American, and later the United States, including proceedings of annual conventions, yearbooks, directories, and statistical summaries.

Processing Information:

Catalog Record ID number: 9973351899301701

An Inventory
Finding aid prepared by Lara Friedman-Shedlov.
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