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YMCA international work personal and regional files

 Collection
Identifier: Y.USA.9-5

SCOPE AND CONTENTS OF THE COLLECTION

Reports, correspondence, and other records concerning YMCA international work in Europe and Asia, consisting primarily of the files of Bruce Knox and Bill Sieverling, who coordinated work in Europe and Asia respectively, during the period from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s. The collection also includes a smaller set of files documenting work in Europe from the World War I era to just after World War II.

Dates

  • 1916-1995
  • Majority of material found within 1985-1994

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

Open for use in the Elmer L. Andersen Library reading room.

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.

Historical and Biographical Background

BRUCE KNOX

Bruce Knox retired in 1997 from the YMCA of the USA as Director of the International Office for Europe after 37 years of professional service to various YMCAs in California, Washington, and Illinois. He also served as a member of the Board of Directors of YMCA Camp MacLean. Born in 1939 in New London, CT, he moved to Joliet, Illinois in 1972, then lived in the Cleveland, Ohio area from 1988 to 1995 before moving to Lockport, Illinois. He passed away in 2008.

BILL SIEVERLING

Bill Sieverling served as director of the YMCA of the USA's International Program Office for Asia, based out of the Seattle YMCA, beginning in 1985. Sieverling was born in Seattle in June 1934 and passed away there in February 2004.

YMCA INTERNATIONAL WORK

From the founding of the YMCA, the leaders of the American and British movements believed in the idea of universal Christian brotherhood and the power of their evangelical mission to transcend national boundaries. In 1886, the initial steps towards the organization of an international movement were begun at the first Student Christian Conference at Mount Hermon, Massachusetts, where a group of one hundred students signed a pledge to participate in volunteer work in foreign countries.

YMCA international work continued to flourish during the first decade of the twentieth century, with 106 fraternal secretaries serving in fourteen nations and Puerto Rico by 1910. Conferences on foreign work were held, and the YMCA organized a publication known as Foreign Mail to publicize the international mission of the organization. Importantly, YMCA international work was successful in developing native leadership; by the end of the decade, about one hundred native secretaries were working in YMCA associations around the world. The postwar era came with changes for the international work of the YMCA. The movement shifted from missionary-driven evangelism to a have a greater focus on social welfare and departmentalized specializations, giving attention to physical activities, health, education, and boys' work. As buildings were erected and national committees were firmly established, greater focus was placed on sending specialized secretaries abroad who had experience in specific areas, such as student work and physical education. By 1925, YMCA international work had reached its highpoint with 229 fraternal secretaries serving alongside 693 native secretaries.

The International Committee was integrated into the YMCA's National Council in 1936, and the Foreign Department was renamed the World Service. Following the outbreak of World War II, the YMCA restarted its war work once again, serving troops, prisoners, and refugees. The YMCA also played an active role in reconstruction following the war. In 1947, the YMCA launched the World Youth Fund, which raised $5,755,000 for the construction of 66 buildings and allowed 641 secretaries to return to their work abroad. The National Council was reorganized in 1950, and the International Committee was dissolved to make way for a new International Committee that administered the World Service of both the United States and Canada.

The United States and Canada began to administer separate World Service programs in 1970, leading to the formation of the International Division under the National Board, which was established to replace the International Committee of the USA and Canada. This new division made a renewed commitment to pursue a program of international development. In 1973, the YMCA began its relationship with USAID after the development agency made a $1.2 million grant to the International Division. Between 1976 and 1986, the YMCA received a total of $19.2 million for international development work from USAID. As a result of increased funding for development grants and the training of native secretaries, the number of YMCA fraternal secretaries serving abroad had declined to twenty by 1972.

Along with the rest of the YMCA's National Board, the International Division moved its offices from New York City to Chicago in 1981, while the YMCA of Greater New York assumed responsibility for International Program Services. By that time just six American YMCA personnel served abroad, overseeing larger geographic regions such as Southern Europe, Africa, and Asia; however, additional personnel were assigned to specific projects in individual nations, especially to help establish new YMCA associations.

Throughout the 1990s, the YMCA's International Division continued to provide funding for development work, promoted the establishment of new YMCA associations, and placed emphasis on student work around the world – hosting student exchange programs and international conventions to continue to foster international fellowship.

[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.]

Extent

10.6 cubic feet (13 boxes)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

Reports, correspondence, and other records concerning YMCA international work in Europe and Asia, consisting primarily of the files of Bruce Knox and Bill Sieverling, who coordinated work in Europe and Asia respectively, during the period from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s. The collection also includes a smaller set of files documenting work in Europe from the World War I era to just after World War II.

Processing Information:

Processed as part of Fast Processing Project FP65. Material hass been minimally processed.

Catalog Record ID number: 9978057313101701
Title
YMCA International Work Personal and Regional Files:
Subtitle
An Inventory of Records
Author
Finding aid prepared by Lara Friedman-Shedlov.
Date
June 2021
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
English

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Kautz Family YMCA Archives Collecting Area

Contact:

612-625-3445