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Records of YMCA international work in Romania

Identifier: Y.USA.9-2-52


Correspondence, minutes, reports, financial documents, pamphlets, journal and newspaper articles and other records of North American YMCA international work in Romania, primarily from 1920 to 1948. Much of the collection focuses on the relief work that the YMCA did within Romania throughout both World War I and World War II. A portion of this correspondence discusses the transition from relief work in World War I to the civilian work that became the Romanian YMCA.

A small portion of the correspondence discusses a 1941 earthquake and the effects that it had on persons tied to the YMCA. This collection also discusses the boys' work that the YMCA did in Romania, including certain leadership techniques that YMCA boys retained and drew from when they were placed within the communist boys' camps after World War II. Much of the correspondence within the collection documents North American International Committee decision-making in regards to staffing, funding and general support of the YMCA in Romania throughout war times and changes in power within the country. The majority of the correspondence involves James Walker Brown, Frank Edward Stevens, Frank Shea, and William Henry Morgan.


  • 1916-1974
  • Majority of material found within ( 1920-1948)


Language of Materials

English, Romanian

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.


North American YMCA work in Romania began with relief work during World War I, when American YMCA secretaries helped distribute supplies and later operated huts. In the spring of 1918 the work was placed under the direction of the YMCA forces within Russia. The Romanian army was demobilized and the army work had ceased by June 1918.

In 1919 a civilian YMCA, assisted by an American secretary, remained in Bucharest. Due to the influence and insistence of Queen Marie of Romania, service to the armed services of Romania was resumed in 1920. The program was so popular that the YMCA was given buildings, equipment and facilities for the opening of a Y in every army corps and province. The North American YMCA work in Romania, however, concentrated on the civilian program. Organization and personnel expenses were supported by the United States YMCA International Committee until 1927, when the United States YMCA withdrew most of its secretaries, leaving only two. One secretary, Frank Edward Stevens, was needed for administrative purposes and a second, James Walker Brown, for the physical education program. At the same time a managing committee, formed of Romanian citizens, was incorporated into the YMCA by a private national initiative. The YMCA was given publicity rights and was officially recognized as a Romanian movement. The Romanian YMCA was among the first five movements initiated by the North American International Committee to achieve a state of self-supported independence. By 1931 the North American staff was reduced to only Brown and the YMCA was covering all of its expenses through local support.

With the German invasion of Poland in 1939, eighty thousand civilian and military refugees poured into Romania. The Romanian government would not allow any foreign relief organization operate within the country. Since the YMCA was officially a Romanian movement, the government agreed that the Commission for Polish Relief Inc, located in New York City, could operate as the American Commission for Polish Relief under the support of the Romanian YMCA. The Romanian YMCA continued on a reduced scale and maintained itself through contributions from private institutions, working only as a social service institution with an extra music branch. After it was invaded by Soviet forces in 1944, Romania switched to the side of the Allies, and YMCA activity resumed with enthusiasm. The extension of activity also meant, however, that expenses increased during a time when financial donation possibilities were continually decreasing.

Widespread Romanian support of the YMCA was countered by political pressure from Soviet groups against such organizations. Soviet forces took over a YMCA building in Brasov and rounded up the YMCA boys for their own movement. Those who remained outside of Communist ranks suffered economically. Romanian funding was increasingly difficult to secure even though Romanian demand for programs was increasing. In 1948 the communists took over the Bucharest building, giving in exchange a five-room apartment for the YMCA to use. The president of the Association was also arrested as a "reactionary." By 1949 the communist government in Romania had dissolved the YMCA and seized its property.

In the last decade of the 20th century, the YMCA in Romania was re-established due to efforts made by a group of old YMCA members within the country. Between the years 1991 and 2000 branches opened in Bucharest, Iasi, Tulcea, Alexandria, Arad, Brasov, Cluj Napoca, Piatra Neamt, Oradea, Baia Mare and Sacel Rozavlea.

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

Brown, James Walker (1920-1943) Morgan, William Henry (1920-1927)
Corcoran, Albert Tyron (1929-1930) Stevens, Frank Edward (1919-1929)
Lewis, Dudley Payne (1920-1921)
Historical information largely adapted from and quoted 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 Scott Latourette; from Federatia YMCA Romania, (, 2010; retrieved September 6, 2012); and from the collection.


1 Cubic Feet (3 boxes)


Correspondence, minutes, reports, financial documents, pamphlets, journal and newspaper articles and other records of North American YMCA international work in Romania, primarily related to relief work that the YMCA did there throughout both World War I and World War II.

Processing Information:

Processed as part of Fast Processing Project II, March 2009, as collection FP035. Material has been minimally processed. Folder descriptions may be general and material has not been grouped into series.

Catalog Record ID number: 6714586

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