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Records of YMCA international work in miscellaneous countries

 Collection
Identifier: Y.USA.9-2-59

SCOPE AND CONTENTS OF THE COLLECTION

Correspondence, minutes, reports, financial documents, pamphlets, building plans, journal and newspaper articles and other records of the YMCA movement in Albania, Armenia, South Asia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Cambodia, Denmark, Fiji, Finland, Gaza, Guam, Iran, Ireland, Laos, Lithuania, Mariana Islands, Micronesia, Middle East, Moluccas, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Saipan, Samoa, Western Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Scandinavia, Slovakia, Sweden, Syria, Tahiti, and Truk. Correspondence and reports discuss many YMCA-run programs, primarily developmental work and famine or natural disaster relief services, but some seek to assist with training, among other things. Programs include Buildings For Brotherhood, YMCA Bridge of Hope, YMCA Refugee Services, World Youth Fund, YMCA Red Triangle, Y Care International, YMCA War Prisoners Aid and the International Camp Counselor Program. Roushdy Melek, Darius Alton Davis, John Raleigh Mott and Harry A. Brunger are the most predominantly mentioned names. References to outside agencies that assisted the YMCA with World Service developmental work and relief assistance within these countries occur frequently within this collection. These agencies include but are not limited to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Micro Industries Development Assistance Society (MIDAS), United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), Middle East Council of Churches (MECC), Church World Service (CWS), Lutheran World Federation (LWF), World Vision, Save the Children, International Rescue Corps. and Ford Foundation.

Dates

  • 1927-1994.

Creator

Language of Materials

English

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.

HISTORY OF YMCA INTERNATIONAL WORK

From the founding of the YMCA, the leaders of the American and British movements believed that the idea of universal Christian brotherhood and the power of their evangelical mission could transcend national boundaries. In 1886, at the first student Christian Conference at Mount Hermon Massachusetts, a group of 100 students signed a pledge to participate in volunteer work in foreign countries. In 1889 it was agreed that the YMCA’s International Committee (the governing body for YMCA work in the United States and Canada) should work to establish associations staffed by trained secretaries in foreign lands, who would help the associations to become self-sustaining, self-governing and self-propagating.

In 1889, the foreign Department (a subcommittee) was organized to oversee international work. By 1900, eighteen YMCA secretaries were serving overseas. 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. YMCA international work also succeeded in developing local leadership. By the end of the decade, about 100 indigenous secretaries were working in YMCA associations around the world.

The role of the YMCA abroad continued to expand, and the organization came to be seen as an aid to national welfare. Rural development projects were launched with the intention to provide agricultural, economic and educational opportunities in rural areas where opportunities were limited. During World War I, the YMCA was credited with serving six million men in camps, hospitals and prisons, while assisting another twenty million on the battlefield. By 1918, the YMCA supported 188 fraternal secretaries while another 435 native secretaries were working in associations around the world.

After World War I a strong emphasis was placed on social welfare and specializations such as physical activities, health, education, vocational training and boys’ work. Specialized secretaries began to be sent abroad for work in specific areas. After a highpoint in 1925 the Foreign Department was faced with a serious deficit in 1927. This escalated into the crash of the global economy in 1929. In 1933 the number of foreign secretaries was reduced from 229 to 81 and the Foreign Department expenditures were reduced from 2.2 million to just under $800,000. Many national YMCAs were able to weather this crisis due to the support of established national secretaries. The International Committee was integrated into the YMCA National Council in 1936, and the Foreign Department was renamed World Service.

Following the outbreak of World War II, the YMCA started its war work once again, serving troops, prisoners, and refugees. The YMCA also had an active role in reconstruction after the war. In 1947 the YMCA launched the World Youth Fund, which raised funds for the reconstruction of buildings and allowed secretaries to return to work abroad. The National Council was reorganized and a new international committee that administered the World Service of both the United States and Canada was adopted. In 1958 the International Committee launched the Buildings for Brotherhood Program, an immense financing campaign which led to the construction of 112 new buildings in 35 new nations.

The United States and Canada began to administer separate World Service Programs in 1970. This lead to the International Division under the National Board which was established to replace the International Committee of the United States and Canada. This new division made a renewed commitment to pursue a program of international development. This commitment was realized through the establishing of YMCA boards in individual areas, the formation of rural and urban development committees, and of individual clubs which formed the membership base, supplied native secretaries and propagated growth and development in other locations. In 1973 the YMCA began its relationship with USAID (the United States Agency for International Development).

As a result of this relationship, funding increased for development grants and the training of native secretaries, lessening the demand for personnel from the American Y. By 1981 just six fraternal secretaries served abroad, overseeing larger geographical regions such as Southern Europe, Africa and Asia; however additional personnel were assigned to specific projects in individual nations such as establishing new YMCA associations. The YMCA embraced refugee and disaster relief efforts. Programs such as Y Care International and the World Youth fund paired with Church World Service, Lutheran World Federation, Save the Children and Bridge of Hope, amongst others to accomplish relief efforts in areas devastated by war, natural disaster or severe poverty. World Service workers, rural and urban training and development programs, urban youth programs such as RISK, a YMCA grant program that worked with troubled teens, and interchange programs such as the YMCA Bridge of Hope and the Young Professional Abroad program became essential to the worldwide development that the YMCA accomplished.

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

Historical information largely adapted 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) and from the collection.

Extent

5 Cubic Feet (105 folders in 20 boxes)

Abstract

Correspondence, minutes, reports, financial documents, pamphlets, building plans, journal and newspaper articles and other records of the YMCA movement in Albania, Armenia, South Asia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Cambodia, Denmark, Fiji, Finland, Gaza, Guam, Iran, Ireland, Laos, Lithuania, Mariana Islands, Micronesia, Middle East, Moluccas, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Saipan, Samoa, Western Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Scandinavia, Slovakia, Sweden, Syria, Tahiti, and Truk.

Physical Location

See Detailed Description section for box listing.

RELATED MATERIALS

Records of YMCA international work in over sixty other countries and regions are separately cataloged in the Kautz Family YMCA Archives under the individual country or region names.

Processing Information:

Processed as part of Fast Processing Project II, June 2009, as collection FP57. Material has been minimally processed. Folder descriptions may be general and material has not been grouped into series.

Catalog Record ID number: 9973356308001701
Title
YMCA INTERNATIONAL WORK IN MISCELLANEOUS COUNTRIES:
Subtitle
An Inventory of Its Records
Author
Finding aid prepared by Lara Friedman-Shedlov and Melanie Doherty.
Date
2014
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