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Records of YMCA international work in Uruguay

Identifier: Y.USA.9-2-20


The collection includes correspondence, reports, and printed material, primarily concerning the American YMCA's international work in Uruguay, primarily Montevideo, but also including information on other YMCAs in the cities of Paysandú, Salto and San José. A significant portion of the records consist of correspondence and documents concerning the financial struggles and building campaigns of the Montevideo YMCA, but also include documents from the South American Federation and the Instituto Técnico. Years of political turmoil in Uruguay from the late 1960s until 1985 resulted in a lack of documentation and subsequent gaps in collection.


  • 1916-1994
  • Majority of material found within ( 1916-1977)


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.


The first YMCA in Uruguay was established in Montevideo in 1909 with the combined efforts of an American named Philip Arthur Conard and the region’s small Protestant community. The early work of the Montevideo YMCA focused on reaching out to European immigrants by offering courses on the Spanish language, along with the traditional programs of physical and spiritual education.

The Montevideo YMCA grew steadily throughout the 1920s and continued to expand after the long-awaited construction of a new building in 1927. The new building was funded by $100,000 in local donations, which was matched by funds from the United States and Canada – setting the standard for future YMCA fundraising projects in South America. In addition, the Montevideo YMCA played a central role in the expansion of the YMCA on the continent, as the home to the Continental Committee, as well as the Instituto Técnico – a training school for future South American YMCA leaders that was established in 1922.

By the early 1950s, the YMCA served nearly 5,000 members in Montevideo. The Uruguayan National Federation would eventually grow to include four neighborhood branches in Montevideo, as well as three other associations in the cities of Paysandú, Salto and San José. The increasing popularity of the Montevideo YMCA led to the construction of an expansive new building in 1962, which would also house the South American Federation. As a result of construction delays and rising inflation rates, however, the Montevideo YMCA could only afford to furnish the building with the assistance of a loan from the International Committee.

By 1964, rising inflation and mounting debt resulted in a serious financial crisis for the YMCA in Uruguay. To make matters worse, political turmoil led to serious disruptions in the operations of the YMCA in the country, and a coup d’état placed control of the government in the hands of a military dictatorship in 1973. During this period, the YMCA’s leadership suffered and the associations barely managed to survive the period intact.

Nevertheless, in 1973, the Montevideo YMCA launched a development initiative known as the Vivienda Project. The politically risky program established housing cooperatives for working-class Uruguayans – providing citizens with education, social services, recreational opportunities, as well as the chance to gather despite government restrictions. The project soon expanded across Uruguay.

In 1983, the YMCA launched the Educational Development (ED) Program, which sought to strengthen the leadership of the YMCA in Uruguay, as well as to promote development projects in the country. Uruguay emerged from twelve years of dictatorship in 1985; although the four YMCA associations survived the period, the National Federation was not as fortunate. Following the establishment of Hector Caselli as Director in 1986, however, the National Federation was reorganized, and continued to promote YMCA programs that included physical education, development work, human rights, and spiritual education.

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

Alvarez, Walter L. (1974-1976) Kelsey, William Irving (1925-1932)
Conard, Philip Arthur (1908-1963) Mackay, John Alexander (1923-1930)
Crew, Malcolm Richard (1925-1931) McKnight, William Asbury (1913-1915)
de Anguera, Herman Clifford (1918-1927) Menke, George Herman (1949-1955)
Ewald, Charles Jefferson (1911-1932) Monteverde, Eduardo (1910-1915)
Ewing, Harry Ernest (1932-1933) Moyna, Myles (1955-1965)
Galland, Emmanuel Arnold (1916-1917, 1922-1934) Nystrom, Joel E. (1940-1950)
Glenn, William E. (1957-1961) Paulson, Leonard (1922-1925)
Hinnant, Odis Benjamin (1926-1932) Summers, James Stewart (1922-1948)
Hopkins, Jesse Townsend (1912-1928) Thompson, Roy Ephraim (1916-1922)
Janette, Bernadette (1980-1981) Walker, Steven D. (1967-1969)
Johnson, Prescott K. (1962-1972) Welch, Dwight Otis (1950-1957)
Historical information largely adapted from the collection, as well as from 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) by Kenneth LaTourette.


2.1 Cubic Feet (6 boxes)


Correspondence, reports, and printed material, primarily concerning the YMCAs in Montevideo, but also including information on other YMCAs in the cities of Paysandú, Salto and San José. A significant portion of the records consist of correspondence and documents concerning the financial struggles and building campaigns of the Montevideo YMCA.

Physical Location

See Detailed Description section for box listing.


Biographical information on many of the secretaries involved YMCA work in Uruguay (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 as part of Fast Processing Project II, February 2009, as collection FP043. Material has been minimally processed. Folder descriptions may be general and material has not been grouped into series.

Catalog Record ID number: 6305847

An Inventory of Its Records
Finding aid prepared by Lara Friedman-Shedlov and Cody Haro.
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Kautz Family YMCA Archives Collecting Area