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New York YMCA annual reports

Identifier: Y.GNY.45


Each annual report for the YMCA of Greater New York and its predecessor organizations reflects to some degree the fortunes of the Association in the year covered. For example, the reports issued during the depths of the Depression were very brief – sometime as short as three pages. Not surprisingly, these reports from the 1930s had neither photographs nor line drawings and presented only minimal information. In contrast, in more prosperous times the annual reports were elaborate documents with color photographs, extensive use of white space in the layout and thematic storytelling. The earliest reports, whether the YMCA was flourishing or confronting challenging finances, were text only, without images or ornamentation.

Whatever their dates, the annual reports were more than statistical summaries, although each was filled with numbers about programs, members and buildings. Each also listed names of committee and board members as well as staff. Just as important, the annual reports were – and are – a way for the YMCA to promote itself and encourage involvement – both personal and financial. In short, each annual report provides a snapshot of the financial health and overall direction of the YMCA of Greater New York. They reflect the evolving views of the organization's leadership about the nature of the YMCA as it served the constantly changing population of the city.

The reports usually list the branches in operation at the time of publication. However, these listings do not always reflect the growth or contraction of the YMCA in New York City. For example, in some years, the annual reports list all the railroad yards where the Railroad Branch had a presence. In other years, only the the Railroad Branch itself was listed. Similarly, the reports sometimes list all the colleges and universities where the YMCA operated. In other years, the reports list only the Intercollegiate Branch without specifying the institutions with YMCA groups. In Brooklyn, camps are listed as branches in some years, while in other years they only appear as part of the activities and programs report.

Another challenge when counting branches is how the main office is listed. In some volumes it appears as a separate branch, while in others it is represented as part of the McBurney (also known as the 23rd Street Branch) or West Side branches. In short, due to these and other factors, it is difficult to provide an accurate count of branch locations based solely on the listings in the annual reports. Nevertheless, the counts of branch locations do provide an overall picture of the extent of the Y's presence in New York City in a particular year, especially when compared with previous or subsequent years. The number of branch locations listed in the report is provided when practical.

Researchers should also be aware of issues related to numbering of volumes. In the early years of the 20th century, annual reports were issued every other year; this occurred at other times as well. During WWI, the annual report issued in 1917 covered the years 1913-1917. However, other gaps in the numbering may be the result of missing volumes. Researchers are advised to consult an archivist with questions about volume numbers. The collection includes both analog/paper-based and born digital/electronic (PDF) records. Most reports are available in both formats, but the reports after 2008 are available exclusively in digital form.


  • 1852-2015


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Print (non-digital) versions are open for use in the Elmer L. Andersen Library reading room. Digital versions are available for access online via the University of Minnesota’s UMedia repository. Files linked from from the individual report titles.

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 was established in New York 1852 to provide young men new to the city a Christian alternative to the attractions of city life. Organized in the Mercer Street Presbyterian Church, the New York YMCA first operated from numerous rented facilities in lower Manhattan, including buildings at 659 Broadway, Astor Place, Waverly Place, Bible House, 161 Fifth Avenue and 3rd Avenue and 9th Street. In 1869, the New York YMCA moved into a large building constructed in the French Renaissance style. Thought to be the first purpose-built YMCA in the United States, the building was designed by notable church architect James Renwick, Jr. It included a large library and reading room, rooms for games, social parlors, a gymnasium, baths, a bowling alley, classrooms, lecture rooms and an auditorium. These features came to be standard at YMCAs throughout the country.

One of the most important events in the early history of the New York City YMCA was the appointment of Robert R. McBurney, first as librarian and later as secretary. Said to be the first paid YMCA secretary, McBurney was an immigrant from northern Ireland whose influence on the the development of the YMCA in New York was profound. For example, he helped the national headquarters of the YMCA of the USA locate permanently in New York; there was considerable overlap between the boards of the New York and national YMCA. McBurney was instrumental in developing the metropolitan concept of YMCAs that still operates today in large cities throughout the US. He organized and presided over early New York State conventions and reached out to influential and wealthy men in New York to support the work of the YMCA. The New York YMCA, in part because of McBurney's leadership, played an important role in the development of local and national social welfare organizations, including the Sanitary Commission, founded in New York in 1861; the U. S. Christian Commission, established in the same year by northern YMCAs to help troops and prisoners of war; the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, founded in 1876; and the White Cross Army, established in 1885 to promote personal purity among young men. The New York YMCA also supported and publicized the revivalistic work of evangelists such as Dwight L. Moody and Ira Sankey. When McBurney died in 1898, the New York YMCA had more than a dozen branches, including those devoted to serving railroad workers, French and German-speaking immigrants and college students. Although the number of branches and the outreach programs have changed to reflect shifting demographics and community needs, the YMCA in the 21st century provide services to millions of New Yorkers. During the early years of the YMCA in New York, the organization was also developing and expanding in Brooklyn and other boroughs. Founded in 1853, the Brooklyn Young Men's Christian Association merged with the YMCA of Queens in 1924 to form the Brooklyn-Queens Young Men's Christian Association. This organization merged with the YMCA of the City of New York in 1957 to form the YMCA of Greater New York.

The YMCA in New York City has undertaken numerous initiatives to help different populations. Always adjusting to the ever-changing demographics of the city, the New York Y has focused on groups such as railroad workers, new immigrants, members of the military, young boys, foreign tourists and other visitors to the city, sailors, seniors and families in need of child care. From its roots as an evangelical Christian organization, the YMCA has grown into an association that seeks to serve all residents of the City of New York with programs that focus on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.

(Information taken from The YMCA at 150: A History of the YMCA of Greater New York, 1852-2002 by Pamela Bayless, 2002; from An Event on Mercer Street, by Terry Donoghue, 1951; from After Fifty Years, 1902; and from the collection)


200 Volumes : printed volumes and digital (PDF) files


Annual reports of the YMCA of the City of New York, YMCA of Greater New York, Brooklyn Young Men's Christian Association, and Brooklyn and Queens Young Men's Christian Association for the period 1852-2000.


The reports are organized into the following sections:

  1. YMCA of Greater New York, Annual Reports, 1957-2000.
  2. Young Men's Christian Association of the City of New York, Annual Reports, 1853-1956.
  3. Brooklyn and Queens Young Men's Christian Assocition, Annual Reports, 1922-1954.
  4. Brooklyn Young Men's Christian Association, Annual reports, 1854-1921.


The original paper copies of these reports are separately cataloged in the Kautz Family YMCA Archives.

Processing Information:

Processed by: Louise Merriam, July 2013.

Catalog Record ID number:

An Inventory of the Digital Collection
Finding aid prepared by Louise Merriam.
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