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Records of YMCA international work in Spain

Identifier: Y.USA.9-2-32


Includes correspondence, minutes, reports, financial documents and other records of the YMCA movement in Spain. The collection dates from 1908 to 1989 but the bulk of the collection is focused from 1969 to 1979 when the North American YMCA was most active in the development of the Spanish YMCA. A large portion of the collection discusses the financial situation of the Spanish association. This is due to the difficulty that the Spanish YMCA faced in the appropriation of funds. Descriptions of the 1975 situation where the General Secretary was deposed by YMCA members are also featured heavily in this collection, as are opinions of the General Secretary, Jose Galeote, and secretary on loan from the North American YMCA, David Rogers about what it was exactly that happened, and why it happened. A small portion of the collection discusses the initial development of the YMCA in 1880 and again in 1923, but the redevelopment of the YMCA in 1969 as a national organization is most fully documented in this collection. Galeote's dedication to reestablishing a strong national Spanish YMCA is thoroughly discussed. His experience in Belo Horizonte, Brazil is also mentioned briefly. Major correspondents within this collection include José Galeote, David G. Rogers, Peter LaRosa and José Louis Rodrigues.


  • Creation: 1908-1989
  • Creation: Majority of material found within ( 1969-1979)


Language of Materials


Use of Materials:

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The YMCA in Spain was founded in 1880 as a distinctly Protestant operation. At the end of a decade the effort ceased and all support was withdrawn. A few local groups continued to operate as YMCAs, but with minimal success. As of about 1910, the YMCAs of the Netherlands and Switzerland were providing support for a "missionary secretary" there. In 1922, Robert Horner, a member of the YMCA World Committee, reinitiated the YMCA in Spain, organizing the first committees and piquing interest in the Association by a number of people who belonged to foreign colonies. The Spanish YMCA was legally constituted in 1923 and accepted the offer of a full time secretary from Geneva, Switzerland, William E. Salzmann. This YMCA was patterned after the German type of Church-related associations.

In 1936 a military revolt against the Republican Government of Spain erupted. When the initial coup failed to win control of the entire country, a civil war began. Amidst the civil war a workers' socialist revolution also took place. In 1939, after the Civil War was over, the YMCA in Spain was banned, but a group was permitted to function in a Church in Madrid. A member of this group, José Galeote, an accountant for a foreign firm, decided in 1956 that he would go to South America for YMCA training and experience so that he might bring the YMCA back to Spain when the prohibition was lifted. Jose Galeote became the general secretary for Belo Horizonte, Brazil for a number of years until 1969 when he was sent to Madrid by the North American International Committee of YMCAs and the World Alliance of YMCAs to reopen YMCA work in Spain.

The YMCA in Spain became a national entity in November of 1969. The Madrid association began to develop slowly until, with the help of the World Alliance and the International Division of YMCAs of the US, it was able to buy land, start a health club and put together a group of 200 family members. The YMCA began to receive recognition. In 1972 a large installation in the southern zone of the city was offered to the association but such a project was beyond their small means. At this point a rumor surfaced that the YMCA was to soon be attacked by the extreme right of the country who accused the YMCA of being Masons and Protestants. In response to this, the YMCA modified the national board in Spain, admitting various persons with connections to the Spanish government. A contract was also signed with the company Comark, whose president had been the second vice president of the Spanish YMCA. This contract stated that Comark would help to finance and develop projects for the YMCA.

By 1973 the YMCA expanded a great deal. It was also recognized as a full member of the World Alliance of YMCAs during an International Council meeting in Kampala, Uganda. By 1974, the Spanish YMCA counted more than 10,000 members. During this year financial difficulties also surfaced. The year progressed and aid in the form of an official subsidy or monetary fund did not arrive. By 1975 a 6 million dollar loan was taken out from the United States International Division of YMCAs and expenditures were cut, however, the poor results of the membership campaign that year and the fact that many members were not paying their fees made the financial situation still very serious. Plans were made to restructure the YMCA of Spain to reduce its initial expansion. A federation of YMCAs was planned to take the place of the national organization.

In 1975 the YMCA in Spain was taken over by a small group of members who had formed a commission as a governing body. They abolished the national board and dismissed 33 of the 56 employees, including José Galeote. Dave Rogers, a secretary of the Spain YMCA who had been asked to stay on by the commission, informed the International Committee that the commission potentially wanted the YMCA in Spain to become a sort of country club. The North American International Committee of YMCAs advised Rodgers to stay on with the commission and to keep them informed.

The YMCA in Spain legally remained a continuation of the originally established YMCA. In 1977 Peter LaRosa was sent to Spain to serve as the technical director for two years. There was a question as to whether the YMCA in Spain would remain a YMCA specifically or become instead a private club. In 1978 a new community program was launched and directed by José Louis Rodrigues and Ruben Daveri. This program was committed to youth and community development in the barrios. Funds for this program were made available through the YMCA Europe World Alliance Working Fund.

The Spanish YMCA continued to grow and develop. They became part of the YMCA Europe member movement in 1978. They also remained part of the World Alliance of YMCAs. As of 2011 the coordination for development program was strong as were programs involving communication, training, international exchange, and volunteer work.

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

LaRosa, Peter (1977-1979)

Rogers, David G. (1974-1976)

Schuyler, J. Barry (1971-1973)

Historical information largely adapted from "YMCA Europe" (, 2011; retrieved October 26, 2012), and from the collection.


1.5 Cubic Feet (5 boxes)


Correspondence, minutes and reports of YMCA international work in Spain, primarily during the decade from 1969 to 1979, when the North American YMCA was most active in developing the movement in Spain.

Physical Location

See Detailed Description section for box listing.


Biographical information on some of the secretaries involved YMCA work in Spain (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, March 2009, as collection FP039. Material has been minimally processed. Folder descriptions may be general and material has not been grouped into series.

Catalog Record ID number: 6411306

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

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Kautz Family YMCA Archives Collecting Area