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Records of YMCA international work in Malaysia and Singapore

Identifier: Y.USA.9-2-45


The collection includes material from YMCAs in both Malaysia and Singapore, ranging in date from 1917 to 1997. However, the majority of the collection is composed of material from the two YMCAs of Singapore and the YMCA of Kuala Lumpur dating from the 1950s through the 1970s.

Correspondence and reports created by general secretaries and members of the International Committee comprise a majority of the collection. Maps, pamphlets, newspaper articles, financial records, and building plans are also included in the collection. Special topics found within the collection include international relations involving Singapore, building construction, the Southeast Asia Training Institute, and the Chinese YMCA of Singapore.


  • 1917-1987
  • Majority of material found within ( 1950s-1970s)


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.


YMCA associations were established in Singapore in 1903 and in 1905 in Kuala Lumpur. These early associations were predominantly attended and administered by westerners, as well as Chinese and Indian Christians. The Singapore Association, led by a British secretary named R. D. Pringle, opened a new building in 1911, while the YMCA in Kuala Lumpur constructed new buildings in 1908 and 1915 with the help of government grants and assistance from several Chinese donors. The quickly growing associations offered physical education classes, organized sports, religious programs, and hobby groups.

In 1920, a new YMCA association was established in the Malay city of Ipoh. The associations in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur also constructed hostels, which attracted people to the YMCAs and served as a steady source of revenue. World War II disrupted the activities of the YMCA in the region, and the secretary of the Singapore YMCA, Rowland Lyne, was imprisoned by the Japanese for three years before his release in 1945. The YMCA of Kuala Lumpur was able to continue its work during part of the occupation because of the protection of a local Japanese Christian; however, after the man left the city, the YMCA building was turned over to the Japanese military. Following the war, a second YMCA was established in Singapore to serve the needs of Chinese speaking citizens who were displaced by the war and had long been a sizeable minority group in the city.

The Malayan Council of YMCAs was formed in 1950, joining the two YMCAs in Singapore with the two associations in the Malaya Federation. The YMCAs promoted programs with a strong emphasis on sports, physical education, and youth clubs. In addition, several YMCAs offered vocational training programs and night school for members. Notably, both YMCAs of Singapore offered popular commercial and language training programs. Through the late 1950s into the 1960s, the YMCAs received funds from the Buildings for Brotherhood Program, aiding in the construction of new YMCA buildings. Following several failed attempts, a YMCA association was established in the Malay city of Penang in 1959. A new association was also established in Sabah in 1966, as well as in Kuching in the 1970s.

In 1970, the Malayan Council of YMCAs was dissolved, leading to the formation of the National Council of YMCAs of Singapore and the National Council of YMCAs of Malaysia. In addition to opening three new neighborhood branches, the Chinese YMCA of Singapore changed its name to the Metropolitan YMCA of Singapore in 1974 in order to fit with the YMCA's racially inclusive, non-sectarian mission. The YMCAs of both nations continued to focus their attention on youth work and sports. In addition, the Kuala Lumpur Association created a program to assist the nation's deaf and established a vocational training school for the handicapped. The YMCA continues its work in both Singapore and Malaysia today.

[Historical information was found within the records of the YMCA in Malaysia and Singapore located at the Kautz Family YMCA Archives, Minneapolis, MN. Additional information was obtained online from YMCA International:]


1.8 Cubic Feet (6 boxes)


Correspondence, reports, maps, pamphlets, newspaper articles, financial records, and building plans documenting YMCA international work in Malaysia and Singapore, primarily Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

Processing Information:

Processed as part of Fast Processing Project II, April 2009, as collection FP028. Material has been minimally processed. Folder descriptions may be general and material has not been grouped into series.

Catalog Record ID number: 6575969

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