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YMCA film bureau records

Identifier: Y.USA.58


Pamphlets, flyers, advertising and catalogs that reflect the titles available for distribution from Association Films, formerly known as the YMCA Motion Picture Bureau. Various film series produced by Association Films are also mentioned within the fliers. These series include topics such as Japanese American relocation during World War II, post-war homes for Americans, Japan’s future, and the “Victory-to-Peace Preparedness Series.” Reports and correspondence involving the YMCA International Committee also make up a section of this collection. Discussions of the conversion to sound film, the use of motion pictures in churches, in teaching, and in camp programs are made throughout the correspondence and reports. The changing policies and purpose of Association Films and its conversion into a separate, independent corporation are also discussed.

The Religious Film Association and Carousel Films are also referenced in correspondence, pamphlets and flyers. Information regarding the connection between Association Films and these companies is limited, though it appears to be one of mutual interest, assistance and distribution. The Religious Film Association distributed films for church and community use and Carousel Films focused more on the distribution of educational and documentary titles. A. L. Fredrick, the associate director of Associate Films is mentioned a great deal within the collection’s correspondence, as are J. R. Bingham, the director of Associate Films and J. C. Andersen, a member of the YMCA International Committee.


  • 1913-1955


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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 Motion Picture Bureau was established in New York by the Industrial Department of the International Committee of YMCAs in 1911. It was created to serve as a distribution agency for films produced by business concerns that the YMCA's Industrial Department was cooperating with, in service to men in industry. The demand for this film service increased very quickly to the point where it was one of the American largest distributors of films for non-theatrical use. As hundreds of local YMCAs, schools, churches, clubs and other community groups learned of this service and demand grew, three new offices were opened in Chicago, San Francisco and Dallas.

In 1931 sixteen millimeter service began and in 1938 the Motion Picture Bureau, purchased modern sound equipment. It became one of the largest and best sources of 16 millimeter films for schools, churches, industries and community organizations and occupied a unique position in the educational film field. The YMCA Motion Picture Bureau changed his name to Association Films in 1946 and by 1948 it had a staff of nearly a hundred. Its list of exhibitors totaled more than 50,000 groups and organizations. The films were divided into the categories of religious film, educational film, entertainment film and sponsored film. Association Films was operated as one of the four service bureaus by the National Council of YMCAs on a non-profit basis. Many other national organizations looked to the YMCA's film bureau for council on production, utilization and distribution problems. Among the organizations served in some way were the Girl Scouts, the Boy Scouts, the National Federation of Women's Clubs, the National Business and Professional Women's Clubs, the Religious Film Association, the Protestant Film Commission, the American Bible Society, and many others.

In addition to its distribution program, Association Films also produced well-received films, including sports films, discussion films for teenagers, and institutional films. Extensive use of such materials by the armed services and to further the war effort spurred a rapid increase in the use of audio-visual materials was rapid after World War II. Association Films was the exclusive distributor of government war films for about nine months at the beginning of the war, at no cost to the government. It continued as the largest distributor of such films throughout the war and for a while after the war as well. In all types of community organizations, films were being used increasingly for educational and promotional purposes.

Income from sponsored films also had increased more rapidly than any other type of income at the time. This expansion made Association Films a very sizable business enterprise. Because of this, in 1949 the International Committee oversaw the establishment of Association Films as a separate, independent corporation. This arrangement permitted Association films to extend its council and services to a great many more interests than had been possible prior to its independent incorporation. J. R. Bingham and A. L. Fredrick continued as director and associate director, respectively, of Association Films throughout the change. Production from Association Films, Inc. continued until 1981.


.4 Cubic Feet (1 box)


Pamphlets, flyers, advertising and catalogs that reflect the titles available for distribution from Association Films, formerly known as the YMCA Motion Picture Bureau, as well as reports and correspondence involving the the conversion to sound film, and the use of motion pictures in churches, in teaching, and in camp programs.

Processing Information:

Processed as part of Fast Processing Project II, August 2009, as collection FP75.

Catalog Record ID number: 9973519667301701

An Inventory of Its Records
Finding aid prepared by Melanie Doherty and Lara Friedman-Shedlov.
Language of description
Script of description
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Collecting Area Details

Contact The Kautz Family YMCA Archives Collecting Area