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Y's Men International records

Identifier: Y.YMN


The Y's Men International collection consists of historical records; correspondence; reports; biographical information; financial records; photographs of individuals, events and projects; newspaper and periodical clippings; recordings and video tapes; microfilm; and assorted memorabilia of Y's Men and Y Service Clubs dating from the organization's official beginning in 1922 to the present. Material documents include the history of the original luncheon club idea; how the name "Y's Men" was selected; early Ohio clubs; the internationalization of the organization; development of the emblem; administration of the organization; and extensive files of staff leadership and elected officers. The collection includes files and photos of all who have served as president of Y's Men International from founder Paul William Alexander to the present. Also included are the original constitution and by-laws and several revisions of these documents. There are several studies and surveys dealing with long range planning, membership, organization, service, and leadership. International board and executive committee rosters and minutes (1924-1973) along with International Committee rosters and minutes, as well as mid-year and annual reports from the General Secretary (1974 to present) provide comprehensive documentation of the organization's administrative history. The collection also contains material from all international conventions from 1922 to the present, including programs and other related materials. The various locations of the international headquarters of the organization are documented in the collection. Several published histories, the most recent commemorating the 75th anniversary of the organization in 1997, provide additional background information.

Material documenting the international development of Y's Men International is organized into sections according to nine administrative Areas: Africa, Asia, Canada/Caribbean, Europe, India, Korea, Latin America, South Pacific, United States, and then by Regions within these Areas. The United States Area has the most extensive material in the collection, including conventions, council meetings, events, studies, reports, and projects, plus information on past and present Y's Men's Clubs, especially clubs within the North Central Region that includes the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area, greater Minnesota, the Dakotas, and Wisconsin.

The collection also includes, under the heading of YMCA Services, information about services performed for work with youth and young adults, the Paul William Alexander Educational Scholarship Fund, and Y's Lings. Services performed for clubs include public relations manuals and brochures, education, brother clubs, fund-raising manuals, leadership training, World Outlook manuals, and reports (1939-1998). Under the heading of General Services, the collection includes material on the Brotherhood Fund established to underwrite travel expense; Endowment funds and the Golden Book records; youth exchange and intern programs; the Time of Fast program, which supports needs in developing countries such as refugee and human crisis projects; and interracial advance and humans crisis efforts during the period from 1967 to 1973.

Publications in the collection, which include those from Areas, Regions, and some individual clubs, are international in scope. Significant titles published by the international organization include Y's Men's World(1939-2008); Y's Hoots(1939-1952, 1956-1972); and Y's Men Now(1972-1977); as well as various manuals, bulletins, and newsletters. Other major publications in the collection are the U.S. Area's Y's Alliance(1972-2008) and the North Central Region's Polaris(1949-2007).

The women's auxiliary, Y's Menettes is also documented in the collection. Material includes rosters, newsletters, publications, and reports on international projects.


  • 1920-2016
  • Majority of material found within ( 1970-2000)


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.


Y's Men International is an independent organization affiliated with the Young Men's Christian Association. It is an adult service organization in partnership with the YMCA with programs focusing on fellowship and the spiritual and mental improvement of its members.

Y's Men International had its beginnings in 1920 when a men's luncheon club, led by Judge Paul William Alexander, was established in support of the Toledo, Ohio YMCA. The opportunity to combine community service with fellowship proved attractive. The idea spread to YMCAs throughout Ohio beginning in 1922, and an association of clubs, later named Y's Men, was organized to link one with another in service to the YMCA. Before that year ended, the concept expanded into nearby states and into the Maritime Provinces of Canada, beginning with Sydney, Nova Scotia. Within a few years, Y's Men clubs could be found throughout the world. The first club outside North America was formed in Shanghai, China in 1924. International expansion continued when a club was chartered in Brisbane, Australia in 1926. In 1928 clubs were founded in Osaka, Japan, and Tallinn, Estonia. Expansion continued to South America with a club formed in Valparaiso, Chile in 1935. Africa's first Y's Men's Club was chartered in Durban, South Africa in 1936.

From 1925 to 1962 the headquarters of the international organization was located in the basement of the Massachusetts home of Henry Grimes, who first served as the volunteer secretary-treasurer of the organization and later became the organization's first full-time employee. Following his death, Y's Men International moved the headquarters to rented facilities in Downer's Grove, Illinois, near George Williams College. The need for a permanent headquarters building was ascertained by the leadership and a capital campaign was undertaken to raise funds for the building that was eventually constructed in Oak Brook, Illinois. As the organization grew into a worldwide operation, the leadership and members made the decision to relocate the headquarters to Geneva, Switzerland at the John R. Mott building already serving as the headquarters of the World Alliance of YMCAs. The international headquarters is in Geneva, Switzerland. A satellite office is maintained in Chang Mai, Thailand.

The first reference to women in Y's Men came in 1923 when a North Carolina club inquired if there was a group for wives of Y's Men. The idea took hold and the first Y's Menettes Club was established in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1924. While encouraging the establishment of Y's Menettes clubs, an association was not seen as advisable by the leadership of the Y's Men. It was not until years later that Y's Menettes were officially added to Y's Men International as an auxiliary. When the Y's Men's constitution was revised in the early 1970s, the new rules for membership included women. Although Y's Menettes clubs continue in many places around the world, many areas, particularly in the United States, opted to combine the sexes in one organization. In recognition of their mixed membership, these clubs frequently (but not always) adopt the name "Y Service Clubs" (there are some instances of Y's Men's Clubs where women comprise the entire membership).

Throughout its history Y's Men International faced a series of crises beginning with the Great Depression of the 1930s and followed closely by war in Asia which spread worldwide by the end of the decade. Totalitarian governments sprang up in many nations which made it impossible for local Y's Men's Clubs to operate over varying periods of time. In 1942, the International Secretary-Treasurer's office reported 255 active clubs in 22 countries; the following year the number had dropped to 150 active clubs, with 29 on leave of absence and 32 whose status was unknown. The clubs that remained active played a part in relief efforts during World War II. In the United States, clubs supported the war effort by raising money in bond drives, promoting programs for military personnel and conducting scrap metal drives. Clubs in mainland China struggled during the war and post war years with several clubs disbanding. In later years the Chinese government relaxed restrictions concerning Y's Men's Clubs, resulting in the revival of some clubs and formation of new clubs.

The Y's Men continued to grow and expand its reach around the world in the years following World War II. By 1951 there were a total of 411 clubs around the world, with most of the growth occurring outside the United States. There are nearly 1,600 Y's Men's Clubs in more than 70 countries with a membership of under 30,000. The organization has taken a leadership role against discrimination regarding race, religion, gender, and ethnic origin and has been a consistent supporter of programs to improve interracial relations throughout the world as well as providing financial support to those in need.

An online version of this finding aid may be found at


International Association of Y’s Men’s Clubs. A Fellowship of Service : 75th Anniversary Edition.Geneva, Switzerland : Y's Men International, 1997.

Keitel, George W. A Topical History of Y'sdom: The Story of the International Association of Y's Men's Clubs-the Service Club of the YMCA.Oak Brook, Ill. : The International Association of Y's Men's Clubs, 1972


99 Cubic Feet (231 boxes)


Records of Y's Men International, an inter-denominational group partnering with and supporting the mission of the YMCA. Material documents the founding of the organization, its leadership, and international expansion and include material such as biographies of presidents, international conventions, meeting minutes, reports, studies and surveys, photos, clippings, publications, audio-visual materials, and memorabilia. The collection includes extensive information on international and domestic clubs, especially the North Central Region of the United States. The organization's women's auxiliary, the Y's Menettes, are also represented in the collection, with newsletters, reports and correspondence.


These documents are organized into the following sections:

  1. Background and History
  2. Organizational Leadership
  3. Services
  4. Y's Menettes
  5. International Conventions
  6. International Areas
  7. United States Area
  8. International Publications
  9. Audio and Visual Materials
  10. Memorabilia

Physical Location

See Detailed Description section for box listing.

Processing Information:

Processed by: Howard Berg, Claude Bewell, James Gilbert, Charles Holmes, Duane Lundquist, and Harold Westerberg, June 2006. Additions made October 2007, December 2009, December 2011, and August 2012.

Catalog Record ID number: 4734768

An Inventory of Its Records
Finding aid prepared by Chan Harries, Charles Holmes, Lara Friedman~Shedlov, and Ryan Bean.
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