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Records of YMCA international work in Japan

Identifier: Y.USA.9-2-3


The records of the YMCA work in Japan consist of extensive correspondence and reports of the foreign secretaries. Reports, correspondence, and publications of the National Council are also included. Correspondence describing Japanese influences in Korea and China are included as well as local YMCA association records, including reports, correspondence, building records and plans, and pamphlets. Other records documenting the YMCA work include financial records, student records, records of specific programs, histories, pamphlets, periodicals and photos.


  • 1885-1991
  • Majority of material found within ( 1885-1930)


Language of Materials

English, Japanese

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.


YMCAs, primarily for foreigners, existed in Japan before the direct involvement from the North American associations began in 1889. The North American YMCA efforts in Japan began with the work of John.T. Swift. Swift went to Japan in 1888 to teach English at the government schools. He formed Bible study groups which evolved into nascent college YMCAs in the Imperial University, the Higher Middle College and the High Commercial College. With the assistance of the Minneapolis YMCA in 1889, the International Committee was able to secure funding for Swift's position and a permanent YMCA presence was officially created in Japan.

The early work of the Japanese YMCA consisted of holding evangelistic meetings, publishing a magazine, forming a lending library and holding meetings on philosophical and religious subjects. In 1890 Seijiro Niwa became the first General Secretary of the Tokyo City Association. Under the leadership of Swift and Niwa the association work in Japan quickly spread. The Japanese YMCA embraced the traditions of its North American counterparts by providing service to the armed forces and assisting in local disasters. During the Russo-Japanese War, 1904-1905, and in Siberia at the close of World War I the Japanese YMCA provided service. In 1923 an earthquake damaged the association buildings in Tokyo and Yokohama, but the Japanese YMCAs were still able to provide assistance to the general public.

The economic depression that hit America in the 1930s put severe constraints on the number of American secretaries the International Committee was willing to send to Japan. The number in Japan was reduced down to seven and the necessity of having American secretaries was called into question. The Japanese continued involvement in Chinese Manchuria put further strains on the relationship of the Japanese and American YMCAs. World War II ended the activity of the North American YMCAs in Japan but the Japanese YMCAs were able to continue their work, though on a limited basis. Due to the drafting of youth, the Student Associations were suspended. Also as a result of governmental pressure, the Japanese Associations were pressed to formally end their relations with the World Alliance of YMCAs. Following the cessation of hostilities in Japan, Russell Luther Durgin (the last American Secretary to leave Japan in 1942) was asked by the State Department to assist as an advisor to the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers (SCAP). There was a great deal of work to do as six of the twelve major city YMCA buildings were completely destroyed and several more were badly damaged by the Allied forces. The return of peace to Japan allowed the YMCA to flourish again and many former associations were again reopened. Support to rebuild came from around the world. By 1949 there were YMCAs in 31 different cities. The Japanese YMCA movement continues to this day to be a vibrant organization.

The following is a list of individuals who served as YMCA secretaries in Japan, along with their dates of service, if known:

Alexander, Ronni (1977-1981) Jorgenson, Arthur Peter (1911-1924, 1926-1943)
Andrews, John Bartlett (1912-1914) Kessler, Clifford F. (1975-1977)
Bower, Peter Maxwell (1961-) Kolak, Stephen (1977-1981)
Bradley, Adrian C. (1921-1924) Kunkel, John C. (1978-1980)
Brown, Franklin Hartwell (1913-1930) Leeper, Harry Dean (1948-1954)
Buckley, Earle Reid (1952-1964) Long, Winthrop Austin (1950-1959)
Call, Dwight William (1968-1969) Luce, Ronald B. (1966-1967)
Converse, Guy Chester (1915-1931) McGlaufin, Deborah A. (1975-1977)
Craford, Mary (1984-1986) McLennan, Donald M (1917-1920)
Daughrety, Gregory Dean (1969-1970) Miller, Ransford S.,Jr. (1891-1895)
Dawson Sumiyasu, Jill (1983-1985) Mills, Stewart Jon (1973-1975)
Dean, Michelle (1977-1979) Moran, Sherwood Ford (1911-1912)
Davis, John Merle (1905-1925) Patterson, George Sutton (1921-1932)
DiPasquale, Philip (1979-1981) Peterson, Louse Miller (1976-1978)
Doak, Leslie A. (1968) Phelps, George Sidney (1902-1935)
Downing, Thomas M. (1978-1980) Reiff, Lyle (1980-1982)
Drury, Clifton M. (1964-1967) Ryan, Winfield Scott (1917-1930)
Durgin, Russell Luther (1919-1951) Sneyd, Herbert Stanley (1913-1932)
Fisher, Galen (1898-1924) Stanley, Rupert Harrison (1920-1923)
Gleason, George (1901-1922) Stier, Wilhelm Rudolf F. (1917-1925)
Grafton, Homer Harold (1916-1922) Swan, George Dempster (1913-1929)
Haag, Howard, Lee (1950-1954) Swift, John Trumbull (1889-1898)
Hague, Donald (1972-1973) Thatcher, Bruce F. (1971-1973)
Harlan, Betsy Ann (1977-1979) Trueman, George Ernest (1909-1931)
Harris, S. A. (1910-1911) Valde, Gregory Alan (1978)
Hayes, Cameron Douglas (1914-1918) Wedel, Alfred Delmar (1955-1968)
Helm, N. Wilbur (1903-1904) Wetzel, Susan (1980-1981)
Helm, Verling Winchel (1899-1907) Wilbur, Hollis Adelbert (1909-1913)
Hermann, Valentine (1903-1909) Wilhelmson, Carl (1924-1925)
Hibbard, Carlisie V. (1902-1917) Wilson, Lucian C. (1917-1919)
Hoyle, Lynn (1979-1981) Yorman, Kathy (1986-1988)
Hynes, Margaret (1983-1985) Young, Etienne (1986-1988)
Jackson, Frederic Ivor (1924-1930)
Historical information taken from A World of Crisis and Progress,by Jon Thares Davidann, World Service: A History of Foreign work and World Service of the Young Men's Christian Associations of the United States and Canada,by Kenneth LaTourette, and from the collection.


26.4 Cubic Feet (52 boxes)


Records of YMCA work in Japan consisting primarily of correspondence among YMCA secretaries working in Japan, as well as correspondence and reports to YMCA leaders in the United States on matters relating to programs, war time activities, finances, membership recruitment, and religious instruction.


These documents are organized into the following sections:

  1. Correspondence and Reports
  2. Buildings
  3. Financial and Property Records
  4. Print Material
  5. Student Work


Biographical information on most of the secretaries involved in Japanese work (see list of individuals in the historical note) is available in the YMCA Biographical Files, separately cataloged in the Kautz Family YMCA Archives.

Processing Information:

Processed by: Ryan Bean, November, 2007.

Catalog Record ID number: 5930213

An Inventory of Records
Finding aid prepared by Ryan Bean.
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Kautz Family YMCA Archives Collecting Area