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Records of YMCA international work in China

Identifier: Y.USA.9-2-4


Records documenting YMCA work in China include histories, annual reports, report letters, correspondence, minutes, records of specific programs and activities, building records (including building plans), financial records, biographical records, pamphlets, and maps.

Annual and quarterly reports and report letters written by the foreign secretaries serving in China provide information on programs and activities of the National Committee and the local associations, such as religious education, physical education, student work, boys' work, and industrial work. Information on personnel, budget, buildings, and personal experiences are also included.

Correspondence and reports comprise the largest portion of the collection. The correspondence between the foreign secretaries in China and officers of the International Committee in New York comprise the main part of the correspondence. Letters to supporters and some personal letters are also included. The reports and correspondence provide an account of the political climate and developments in China in addition to the information pertinent to YMCA activities.

Records of special programs sponsored or supported by the YMCA are also included. They include work with Chinese laborers in France and mass education programs conducted by James Yen, programs conducted by the lecture department headed by C. H. Robertson, health education programs headed by William Wesley Peter, as well as famine, flood, and war relief programs.


  • 1890-1991.
  • Majority of material found within ( 1896-1949)


Language of Materials

English, Chinese

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.


Although the YMCA movement had been active in China as early as the 1870s, the first North American work YMCA work in China dates from 1889, when Luther Wishard travelled there as part of his efforts to lay the groundwork for a major expansion of YMCA foreign work. He found four student YMCAs in existence and organized three more. Associations, chiefly for foreigners living in those cities, had also been organized in Shanghai and Hankou (Hankow). In 1895, the International Committee of the YMCA in North America sent the first American YMCA secretary, D. Willard Lyon, to China as a response to appeals from missionaries in Beijing (Peking), Shanghai, and Yantai (Chefoo). This was the beginning of fifty-five years of North American YMCA involvement in China. Over the years approximately 150 secretaries served in about forty associations throughout the country.

Lyon launched his work in Tianjin (Tientsin), rather than Beijing, as he had first intended, for there, so he said, was "the only city in China with a well-organized system of educational institutions for the teaching of Western subjects." As the future leaders of China, students were the focus of much the International Committee's attention. Following a tour of institutions of higher learning by Lyon and John R. Mott, then general secretary of the newly organized World's Student Christian Federation, twenty-two new student YMCAs were organized in China in 1896.

Part of the appeal of the YMCA was the International Committee's policy of stressing indigenous leadership, support, and control, which appealed to the burgeoning nationalism of the Chinese. However, the rapid growth of the YMCA in China initially required additional staff from the North American Association. Among the other early YMCA secretaries sent were Robert Ellsworth Lewis, Robert Reed Gailey, and Fletcher Sims Brockman. The Boxer Rebellion briefly halted the YMCA's activities in China, but recovery and advance followed rapidly. The General Committee of China, Korea, and Hong Kong was founded in 1901. The following year, headquarters were established in Shanghai. In 1912 the General Committee became the National Committee of the Young Men's Christian Association of China, with Brockman as the first national secretary (1901-1915). The peak of the International Committee's involvement came in the early 1920s, with 89 secretaries serving in China. By that time, there were 30 city associations with a membership of over 32,000, plus 170 student associations counting 14,200 members. Local boards of directors and the National Committee soon became predominantly and then exclusively Chinese. More and more, the responsible positions, both local and national, were filled by Chinese. In the position of National Secretary, Brockman was followed by C. T. Wang (1915-1916), David Yui (1916-1936), S. C. Leung (1926-1949), and Y. C. Tu.

While the YMCA's foreign work was rooted in the missionary movement and Bible classes were among the first activities offered by the fledgling association, the program included a variety of other educational programs, including English classes, lectures, and vocational training. Physical training, public health education (a national health campaign organized by the YMCA in 1920s virtually ended typhus in China), and other fields of work were soon added as the YMCA responded to local needs. The YMCA introduced many Western sports and Western-style sports competitions, and can also take credit for the early organization of the Olympic movement in China. Under the leadership of Max Exner, who became the first national physical director in 1908, as well as C. H. Robertson and educator Zhang Boling (Chang Poling), the YMCA organized the Far Eastern Games, the first international competitions in the far east.

After the revolution in 1949, the American YMCA continued to support Chinese YMCAs in Hong Kong and Taipei, Taiwan. Involvement by North Americans (or acknowledgement of the Y's Western connections) proved impossible under Communist rule. Nevertheless, a number of YMCAs on mainland China persisted. As of 1955, twenty-six continued to operate, the only Christian institution with a social program which had not been taken over by the government, but the YMCA in the United States had little direct contact with the YMCA in China during the middle decades of the century. In 1979, relations between the Chinese and American YMCA movements were renewed when Li Shao Pao, K. H. Ting, and Wen Han Zhou attended the World Council on Religion and Peace Conference in Princeton, New Jersey. Following friendly negotiations, funds held by the U. S. National Council of YMCAs for the YMCAs of China during World War II and following were returned in 1983. Subsequently, there have been continued delegations and visits by groups and individuals.

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

Adamson, Arthur Quentin (1909-1929) Lerrigo, George Edward (1909-1931)
Allen, Arthur Jones (1912-1932) Lewis, Robert E. (1898-1908)
Anderson, Paul B. (1913-1917)) Lockley, Arthur (1916-1927)
Arnold, Roger David (1916-1952) Lockwood, Edward Harrison (1915-1920, 1926-1950)
Barnett, Eugene Epperson (1910-1937) Lockwood, William Wirt (1903-1936)
Barrie, H.G. (1901-1902) Long, Austin Oliver (1918-1928)
Bates, Lewis George (1918-1922) Lyon, David Willard (1895-1930)
Beard, Willard Livingstone (1904-1910) Magill, Orrin R. (1913-1927, 1930-1935, 1945-1951)
Bishop, Merlin Asa (1945-1951) Masterson, Harris, Jr. (1913-1915)
Blaisdell, Thomas Charles, Jr. (1922-1925) McCloy, Charles Harold (1913-1921)
Boynton, Charles Luther (1906-1913, 1915-1920) McCormell, Thomas Cunningham (1915-1928)
Brace, Albert James (1911-1936) McLachlin, Louis Ensley (1904-1931)
Bradshaw, John (1916-1923) McMichael, Jack Richard, Jr. (1938-1939)
Brockman, Fletcher Sims (1898-1915) McPherson, John Livingstone (1905-1934)
Brockman, Whitfield Walton (1916-1935) Mead, Lawrence Meyers (1913-1927)
Brunger, Harry (1947-1950) Mills, Wilson Plumer (1912-1932)
Buckley, Earle Reid (1944-1948) Minard, Herbert Leslie (1945-1949)
Burgess, John Stewart (1909-1930) Moeller, Roy Llewellyn (1919-1927)
Carruthers, Donald Wallace (1915-1919) Moran, Hugh Anderson (1909-1914)
Chambers, James Wheaton (1909-1911) Moritz, Paul Walter (1939-1951)
Childs, John Lawrence (1916-1927) Munson, Edward Hartman (1910-1939)
Clack, Robert Wood (1913-1924) Nipps, John Wesley (1913-1931)
Clark, Arthur Leo (1925-1929) Northrup, Filmore (1919-1920)
Clark, Jesse Claude (1911-1927) Oliver, Jay Charles (1916-1951)
Cline, Warren Williams (1918-1932) Parker, Vernon DeLancey (1921 -1932)
Clinton, Jacob Mancil (1904-1911) Peabody, Allen Stone (1921-1925)
Cole, George Herbert (1905-1925) Peter, William Wesley (1913-1927)
Collins, Stanley Browning (1910-1919) Petitt, Clifford Walter (1918-1931, 1936-1939)
Colson, Ralph Brownell (1917-1920) Pettus, William Bacon (1906-1940)
Cooley, Frank Leonard (1945-1952) Phraner, Stanley Lansing (1919-1920)
Cooper, Richard Daniel (1947-1949) Platt, Joseph Eyre (1913-1925)
Cowles, Samuel Macon (1918-1931) Richardson, Henry K. (1912-1916)
Crocker, John Howard (1911-1917) Rinvold, Georg (1944-1945)
Dadisman, John Hunter (1912-1917) Ritter, Richard Henry (1917-1919)
Dennis, Herbert Ernest (1913-1919) Roberts, Ray Clinton (1912-1927)
de Vargas, Philippe (1913-1920) Robertson, Clarence Hovey (1902-1931)
Dome, Arthur Edmond (1921 -1926) Robinson, Arthur Greenwood (1913-1927)
Dome, Earl (1916-1923) Rope, Raymond Funnelle (1917-1919)
Edwards, Dwight Woodbridge (1906-1946) Rounds, Harold Judson (1917-1927)
Elliot, Thomas Maxwell (1907-1928) Ruby, Clem Gerald (1916-1917)
Exner, Max Joseph (1908-1912) Rugh, Arthur (1903-1921, 1924-1927)
Fenn, Burtt Stoddard (1912-1920) Schmidt, Ben Harrison (1921-1931)
Fitch, George Ashmore (1909-1946) Schrock, George A. (1916)
Forbes, Robert Ireland (1919-1932) Schwenning, Gustav Theodore (1925-1926)
Frantz, William Earl (1917-1925) Scofield, Carl Edward (1921-1928)
Froelick, Louis Daniel (1907-1910) Sears, Lawrence Milton (1924-1928)
Purer, Gottfried Edmund (1913) Service, Robert Roy (1905-1934)
Gailey, Robert Reed (1898-1930) Shedd, Charles Clark (1916-1926)
Gamble, Sidney David (1918-1932) Shires, Wilbur Stuart (1919-1920)
Geldhart, John Hayes (1911 -1925) Siler, Charles Arthur (1912-1920)
Gillett, Philip Loring (1913-1927, 1928-1932) Smith, B. Ward (1915-1932)
Gold, Ralph Gaylord (1915-1928) Smith, I.H. (1930)
Grant, Benjamin Ernest (1922-1925) Smith, Karl Blair (1920-1923)
Gray, John Henry (1920-1928) Stange, Karl Henry (1946-1950)
Guttery, Arthur Minton (1913-1929) Stanley, Rupert Harrison (1912-1919, 1923-1927)
Hall, Edward Leverich (1915-1929) Starrett, Oscar Garfield (1916-1919)
Hall, James Worthington (1943-1949) Stewart, William Ramsey (1910-1939)
Hall, Lawrence Kingsley (1918-1929) Strong, Robbins (1949-1950)
Hall, Raymond Stearns (1909-1945) Swan, Alfred Hjalmar (1912-1921)
Harvey, Charles Way (1902-1930) Sweet, Lennig (1916-1917, 1920-1936)
Hayes, Cameron Douglas (1911-1913) Sweetman, Herbert Ray (1918-1927)
Hayes, Egbert McGinnis (1913-1927, 1930-1937) Taylor, William E. (1905-1917)
Hayes, Luther Newton (1910-1932) Tobin, Chester Martin (1928-1936)
Heck, Charles McGee (1911-1912) Todnem, Lawrence (1915-1934, 1936-1948)
Helde, George Grace (1916-1943) Tomlinson, Percy Richard (1923-1927)
Hening, Sydney Evans (1912-1923) Trindle, John Robert (1914-1915)
Herschleb, Charles Augustus (1913-1920) Turner, Eugene A. (1913-1949)
Hersey, Roscoe Monroe (1905-1927) Turner, George Frederick (1914-1919)
Hines, William Earle (1929-1950) Tuttle, Nelson Sabinas (1920-1922)
Hoagland, Amos Nathan (1912-1918) Van Winkle, Charles W. (1934-1936)
Hogan, Ralph Montague (1919-1934) Verink, Ellis Daniel (1918-1925)
Holroyd, Alexander Waldo (1921-1927) Veryard, Robert Kelsey (1911 -1932)
Hoover, Lyman (1930-1949) Wagner, Harry Milton, Jr. (1916-1926)
Howell, Lawrence Day (1913-1915) Wallace, James Hill (1905-1916)
Irle, William Kenneth (1917-1919) Watkins, Wilson P. (1918-1925)
Jones, Tracey (1917-1928) Wear, Robert Benjamin (1913-1927)
Jordan, Wayne Clark (1913-1924) Wheeler, Mark Hotchkiss (1921-1932)
Jorgensen, Charles William, Jr. (1944-1950) Whitmore, Frank Beach (1905-1915)
Kees, Marion Andrew (1909-1912, 1916-1932) Wilber, Francis Edmond (1911-1918)
Kelsey, Dean Lewis (1911 -192 8) Wilbur, Hollis Adelbert (1913-1925, 1935-1938)
Kingman, Harry Lees (1921-1928) Wilson, Lucian Clovis (1913-1917)
Leake, Ralph Andrew (1916-1930) Wilson, William (1910-1911)
Leavitt, George William (1906-1907) Winning, Robert Gerald (1908-1910)
Leiser, Frederick Oscar (1905-1916) Wise, Edgar S. (1921-1924)
Lenz, Frank Bernhard (1916-1922) Yelton, Elmer (1912-1914)
Historical information adapted in part from Kenneth Scott Latourette, World Service: A History of the Foreign Work and World Service of The Young Men's Christian Associations of the United States and Canada,New York: Association Press, 1957.


47.9 Cubic Feet (121 boxes)


Records documenting YMCA work in China, including histories, annual reports, report letters, correspondence, minutes, records of specific programs and activities, building records (including building plans), financial records, biographical records, pamphlets, and maps.


These documents are organized into the following sections:

  1. History and Background Material
  2. Annual and Quarterly Reports
  3. National Conventions
  4. Correspondence and Reports
  5. Building Records
  6. Subject Files
  7. Journals

Physical Location

See Detailed Description section for box listing.


A spreadsheet listing all reports of YMCA secretaries in China, along with brief comments on the contents, is available from the archives.


Many of the annual and quarterly reports have been digitized and are available online through the University of Minnesota Libraries UMedia Archive (

The following additional materials related to YMCA work in China are also available at the Kautz Family YMCA Archives:

- D. Willard Lyon papers (Lyon was the first North American YMCA secretary sent to serve in China)

- Kirby Page papers (includes a dissertation and related material on the history of the YMCA in China)

- Photographs and photograph albums of YMCA work in China.

- Oversized maps and blue prints of YMCA buildings in China

- Armed services scrapbooks.

- Records of YMCA work in Taiwan and Hong Kong.

- Records of the Committee on Friendly Relations Among Students.

- Additional copies of annual reports of foreign secretaries serving in China are available in bound volumes of the reports of all foreign secretaries.

Processing Information:

Catalog Record ID number: 5319572

An Inventory of Its Records
Finding aid prepared by Lara Friedman-Shedlov and Dagmar Getz.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Collecting Area Details

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