Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)YMCA
TitleArchive of the National Council of YMCAs (Young Men's Christian Association)
Extent55 linear metres
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DescriptionPlease note that the Red Triangle Magazines, 1915-1917, Reference E7, will be unavailable from 9 June due to a digitisation project.

The archive includes the minutes of the YMCA National Council, dating from 1882, together with minutes of many of its Committees. These Committees include the Officers Training and Nomination Committee (formerly the Secretarial Appointments Board), Finance and General Purposes Committee, War Emergency Committees, Education Committee, Physical Education Committee, Community Services Committee, Special Services Committee, Migration Department Executive Committee and a number of others.

In addition, there are minutes of a number of associated organisations including Inter-Council Committee (formerly the Committee for British Business, a joint Committee with the Scottish and Irish Associations), 1884-1970; the International Hospitality League/ Red Triangle Hospitality League, 1918-21; and the Council of Voluntary War Work, North Africa and Central Mediterranean Committee (a body with representatives form YMCA, YWCA, Catholic Women's League, Church Army, Church of Scotland, Salvation Army, Toc H), 1943-48.

There are substantial quantities of material relating to the YMCAs war work during the Great War which consists of various series of compilations of folders (often referred to as the First World War Green Books). These include photographs of war emergency work at home and abroad; printed reports, pamphlets, cuttings and some manuscript correspondence and notes about war work (organised by place or subject); binders of correspondence, printed material and photographs relating to military camp work; and compilation volumes of typescript records relating to the YMCAs war work including lists of workers.

The archive also includes a large collection of binders which contain printed and other materials relating to both local YMCAs and to the district unions. The materials in these binders (which date from the mid 19th century up to about 1922) include annual and conference reports, by-laws and magazines, advertising literature, published histories and programmes of events. They provide an enormous amount of information about the activities of these branches which ranged from religious, social and educational programmes to health education projects, youth clubs, libraries, gymnasia and other sporting facilities, training and other courses for young people.

As well as acquiring printed material of local YMCAs, the National Council at one time encouraged these bodies to deposit their records centrally at its headquarters. As a result, the archive includes minutes, financial records, photographs and other material of a small number of local YMCAs and of unions of local YMCAs. These include, for example, minutes of the North Western District Union of YMCAs (1904-73) and of the Yorkshire Union of YMCAs (1915-76); and records of Penrith YMCA (1889-1964) and North Liverpool YMCA (1885-1936).

Complete sets of the various sequences of national YMCA journals, including YMCA Monthly Review (1884-89), The Red Triangle (1917-23) and the British YMCA Review (1936-39, 1948-61) have been deposited. Other publications such as national annual and conference reports, printed publicity and other literature are also available as is a set of the early Exeter Hall lectures, 1847-1865.

In addition, other deposited records include records of the YMCA Women's Auxiliary, archives of the Association of YMCA Secretaries, which comprise minutes, conference proceedings, reports, journals and newsletters (1890-1980s); and a large collection of printed literature and publications of the World Alliance of the YMCAs and of national and international bodies of YMCAs around the world including North America and Asia. While this latter category of material is not unique, it constitutes an important collection which is not easily accessible elsewhere in the country.

The archive also includes a small quantity of papers of individuals connected with the YMCA. These include a diary and scrap album of Gypsy Smith, evangelist and YMCA war worker, who undertook mission work amongst troops in France in the First World War and who also promoted the YMCAs war work in this country; a diary of W E Shipton, Secretary of the City of London YMCA, 1851-80; and a diary of a visit to America in 1883 by William Hind Smith, then National YMCA Secretary.
ArrangementThe collection has been sorted and provisionally organised into a number of sections so as to allow access and retrieval. This arrangement, and the numbers assigned to the materials together with the accompanying descriptions, should be regarded as a temporary measure.

The collection is arranged in the following temporary sections:
Section A: Printed materials, 1866-1923;
Section B: Early local YMCA association reports, 1838-1890;
Section C: Sample printed literature of local associations and divisions/regions of the YMCA and of the National Councils of Scotland, Ireland and Wales, mostly 1950s;
Section D: Records of local associations, divisional unions and the National Council of YMCAs, 1893-1973;
Section E: YMCA publications, 1847-1996;
Section F: Multi media audio/visual materials1960s-1979s;
Section G: Records of the YMCA Women's Auxiliary, 1918-1973;
Section H: Records of Association of YMCA Secretaries, 1890-1991;
Section I: Printed literature of YMCAs of the World, 1920-1990;
Section J: YMCA minutes, 1882-1979;
Section K: First World War Green Books, 1860-1922;
Section L: Legal files and bundles relating to YMCA property and association;
Section M: YMCA and British Forces in Germany/British Army on the Rhine;
Section N: Artefacts;
Section P: Textiles;
Section Q: Ephemera relating to YMCA centres, buildings, schemes;
Section R: History and anniversaries of the YMCA;
Section S: George Williams and family
Access ConditionsOpen apart from the minutes which are subject to a thirty-year closure period.
Finding AidsA temporary handlist to the collection and a part index to one of the periodicals issued by the YMCA during the First World War are available as pdf files. Click on the links in the document field below. A paper copy of the collection handlist is also available in the Special Collections Department.
YMCA precis index British Empire YMCA Weekly 1916 - 2 March 1917 (3rd edition, May 2019).pdf
Access StatusOpen
Administrative HistoryThe YMCA, which originated in regular prayer and bible study meetings of young male shop workers, was established in 1844. George Williams, a draper's assistant, is acknowledged as its principal founder, and from very small beginnings the association quickly expanded with other branches opening both in London and elsewhere. Branches in Manchester and Leeds began in 1845, and by 1855 there were 40 local YMCAs outside London.

Although established as a non-denominational evangelical Christian movement, it soon began educational work and provided valuable opportunities for social and physical activities for its membership. For example, a series of very successful lectures was initiated in London in 1845 (held in Exeter Hall in the Strand, an important venue for meetings and concerts, from 1847), and local associations began libraries and introduced evening classes. In 1881, the London YMCA acquired Exeter Hall. These premises were used, from 1882, by the National Council of YMCAs, which was formed in that year to coordinate the work of all the local associations in England, Wales and Ireland. The YMCA organisation also rapidly expanded abroad, and in 1855 the first world conference of YMCAs was held in Paris where representatives of eight countries from Europe and North America met and the World Alliance of YMCAs was constituted. In the last 20 years of the nineteenth century, associations were set up in Africa, Asia and South America. The World Alliance now represents more than 100 countries and, while maintaining its Christian outlook, is particularly concerned with world development issues and with peace, justice and equality.

The work of the YMCA during the two world wars is well known. During the First World War, when the red triangle emblem was adopted by the movement, the major focus of the YMCA's work was the provision of YMCA huts. These were put up in this country and in the war zones of Europe and Africa to provide food and a place of rest for soldiers. The YMCA also set up the National Women's Auxiliary which recruited large numbers of volunteers for its war work. During the Second World War, the mobile canteen, known as the "Tea Car", was introduced to supply food and drinks to troops, other war workers and those made homeless by bombing.

The association is also famous for the familiar and ubiquitous YMCA hostel. The YMCA provided accommodation for young men from the later nineteenth century, and the first purpose built hostels were opened in Cardiff and London in 1912. After the second world war, the provision of traditional hostels, together with YMCA holiday centres and hotels, expanded, and the association still provides accommodation for young people in hostels, self catering flats and other centres.

Since the 1950s, the YMCA has focused on youth work, on health education and physical fitness and on training, and, although initially established for young men (which soon encompassed work with boys), the YMCA also provided opportunities for women and girls from the 1960s. From the 1970s, the association has particularly concentrated on the needs of the homeless, disadvantaged and unemployed and is now one of the largest youth and community organisations in the country. National developments and programmes of the last few decades include its National College to provide courses for youth and community work; Y Training Services, a professional training company which runs, for example, programmes for young people with special needs; the establishment and expansion of permanent centres to provide outdoor activities; the introduction of YMCA Day Camps for children during school holidays; and the establishment of an overseas development agency, Y Care International. Locally, YMCAs run youth clubs and social centres for young people, fitness classes, job clubs, restart programmes and courses for the unemployed, and drug and other health education projects.

Source: YMCA publications
AcquisitionThe first deposit was received in 1998 from the library at the YMCA George Williams College and this comprises the bulk of the material listed in Sections A to I The second deposit was received from YMCA England at Walthamstow in 1999 which comprises most of the material in Sections J to P. Further deposits have been received from YMCA England on a regular basis.
Related MaterialThe official archive of YMCA England and Wales was deposited in 1998.

The records of Central (London) YMCA were deposited in 2006 (GB 0150 CYMCA)

Special Collections is receiving a growing number of collections from private sources relating to the YMCA. These collections, which may include diaries, family letters and photographs, complement the official archive and have been organised into a sequence of YMCA Unofficial Papers. Collection descriptions of many of these are available on our online archive catalogue and many are fully catalogued.

The following collections are currently uncatalogued:
YMCA/ACC20: Papers of Geoffrey Palmer
YMCA/ACC59: Records of Pinder House YMCA

Brief collections descriptions (which will be enhanced at a later date) are available for:
YMCA/ACC53: Photographs of First World War Graves
YMCA/ACC56: Crucifix made of bullet casings
YMCA/ACC58: Family papers relating to Sir Arthur Keysall Yapp and the YMCA
YMCA/ACC64: Knox family papers
YMCA/ACC66: Springfield College

Full catalogues of the following collections of unofficial YMCA papers are available for:
YMCA/ACC1: Papers of William Edwyn Shipton
YMCA/ACC2: Papers of Gipsy Smith
YMCA/ACC3: Papers of Eckard Geisler Collection
YMCA/ACC4: Papers relating to the history of YMCA
YMCA/ACC5: Papers of W. J. Lambert
YMCA/ACC6: Freedom of the City of London granted to Sir George Williams
YMCA/ACC7: Papers of Marion Huggan
YMCA/ACC8: Papers of Frederick Powell
YMCA/ACC9: Personal papers and collection of Mrs Joan Marsham
YMCA/ACC10: Papers of Edward Bursill
YMCA/ACC11: Papers of Thomas Winter
YMCA/ACC12: Records of the YMCA
YMCA/ACC13: Papers of Barbara Vessey
YMCA/ACC14: Papers of George Turner
YMCA/ACC15: Papers of A. P. Braddock
YMCA/ACC16: Tranter Collection
YMCA/ACC17: Papers of Sam Johnston
YMCA/ACC18: Papers of Miss Kate Macpherson
YMCA/ACC19: Papers of James C. B. Thomson
YMCA/ACC21: Records of Newcastle-on-Tyne YMCA
YMCA/ACC22: Album of First World War photographs
YMCA/ACC23: Papers of Gilbert Gilkes
YMCA/ACC24: Papers of J. W. Talby
YMCA/ACC25: Papers of Mr and Mrs H. E. Thomas
YMCA/ACC26: First World War letter
YMCA/ACC27: Papers of George Durrans
YMCA/ACC28: Records of Fulham YMCA
YMCA/ACC29: Photographs of Birmingham YMCA
YMCA/ACC30: Photograph of Jessie Strathearn
YMCA/ACC31: Records of Derry Young Men's Christian Literary Association
YMCA/ACC32: Records of Leamington YMCA
YMCA/ACC33: Records of the Fellowship of YMCA International Campers
YMCA/ACC34: Papers of R. Davison White
YMCA/ACC35: YMCA Fovant Camp programmes
YMCA/ACC36: Papers of Jean Cook
YMCA/ACC37: Papers of Malcolm Tremlett
YMCA/ACC38: First World War YMCA Christmas card
YMCA/ACC39: Album presented to Eric Bidlake
YMCA/ACC40: Publications of the German YMCA in London
YMCA/ACC41: Papers of David Myles
YMCA/ACC42: Leaflets of St Albans YMCA and YWCA
YMCA/ACC43: Papers of James Greenwood
YMCA/ACC44: YMCA medal awarded to Arthur Moulson
YMCA/ACC45: Papers of Reverend Graham Clarke
YMCA/ACC46: Records of Halifax YMCA Amateur Operatic and Pantomime Society
YMCA/ACC47: Diaries and notebooks of Rev R. N. Lyons
YMCA/ACC48: Records of Northampton YMCA Rambling and Cycling Clubs
YMCA/ACC49: Records of Halifax YMCA Amateur Operatic and Pantomime Society
YMCA/ACC50: Photograph of YMCA Voluntary Workers 1914-1919
YMCA/ACC51: Papers of (Benjamin) Gordon Williams
YMCA/ACC52: Exeter Hall
YMCA/ACC54: Records of Liverpool YMCA
YMCA/ACC55: Papers of Ivo Humphries Godfrey
YMCA/ACC57: Croydon YMCA Trust Deed
YMCA/ACC60: YMCA Ninth International Conference
YMCA/ACC61: Papers of the YMCA Women's Auxiliary
YMCA/ACC62: Lecture in aid of the YMCA by Rev John Oates
YMCA/ACC63: Papers of Mary Kathleen ('Molly') Jones
YMCA/ACC65: Papers of Harold Stapleton
YMCA/ACC67: Papers relating to Glasgow YMCA
YMCA/ACC68: Papers relating to Central YMCA Cricket Club
YMCA/ACC69: Papers of J. Hastings Eastwood
YMCA/ACC70: Papers of the Swansea YMCA Players
YMCA/ACC71: Papers of J. Clark Ready relating to the Nigerian YMCA
YMCA/ACC72: Scrapbooks and photographs relating to YMCA activities during the 20th century
YMCA/ACC73: Dissertation on the development of the YMCA in England by R. S. Boyce
YMCA/ACC74: Memoir of William George Cadenhead
YMCA/ACC75: First World War correspondence of J. E. Richards
YMCA/ACC76: Memoir of Grace Torrington
YMCA/ACC77: First World War postcards collected by John Pritchard Brewer
YMCA/ACC78: Papers of Sydney L. Vinson relating to the First and Second World Wars
YMCA/ACC79: Papers of Minnie H. Evelyn-Smith
YMCA/ACC80: Papers relating to Abel Simner and Winifred Ava-Simner
YMCA/ACC81: First World War correspondence of Albert Entwistle
YMCA/ACC82: Papers of Jack Houghton
YMCA/ACC83: Photographs of European Voluntary Workers based at the YMCA Hostel in Moota, Cumberland
YMCA/ACC84: Dissertation on the contribution of the YMCA in the development of basketball
YMCA/ACC85: Memoir of Harold M. Gould, YMCA Secretary
YMCA/ACC86: Papers of Miss Tuckwell of Croydon
YMCA/ACC87: Visitors book for 'Soundeville' rest camp in Equihen, France
YMCA/ACC88: Papers relating to the Centennial Conference of the YMCA
YMCA/ACC89: First World War correspondence sent to Reverend and Mrs Proctor of Salisbury
YMCA/ACC90: 'The History of the YMCA, 1844-1983'
YMCA/ACC91: Papers of Mrs M. L. Coles of the YMCA National Women's Auxiliary
YMCA/ACC92: 'History of Mildmay: the National YMCA training headquarters' by Rowland Lyne
YMCA/ACC93: YMCA car badge belonging to Major Richard J. P. Lane
YMCA/ACC94: YMCA 'Order of the Red Triangle' badge
YMCA/ACC95: Miscellaneous YMCA sports medals
YMCA/ACC96: YMCA materials relating to The Order of The Red Triangle
YMCA/ACC97: Photographs relating to the European Voluntary Workers scheme
YMCA/ACC98: Notes relating to William Hind Smith
YMCA/ACC99: New Testament titled 'Active Service Testament'
YMCA/ACC100: YMCA medals awarded to Lilian West Maidment
YMCA/ACC101: Papers relating to Bernard Wheelwright
YMCA/ACC102: Sketches relating to the YMCA during the First World War
YMCA/ACC103: Material relating to YMCA's 175th anniversary
YMCA/ACC104: Papers of Reverend Arnold Dauncey
YMCA/ACC105: Papers of A. G. Maundrell
YMCA/ACC106: Papers relating to Anglo-German YMCA Youth Camp at Burford
YMCA/ACC107: Papers of John Bainbridge
Associated MaterialsPapers of the YWCA (Young Women's Christian Association) are held at the Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick, Coventry.
Papers of the Scottish National Council of Young Men's Christian Asssociations (YMCA) are held at the National Archives of Scotland, reference: NRA 23273 Scottish YMCA
Oral history recordings, created as part of a series of events to mark the YMCA's 175th anniversary in 2019, can be found at:
Publication NoteYapp, A. K 'The Romance of the Red Triangle' London: Hodder and Stoughton [1919] and 'Told in the huts; the Y.M.C.A. gift book ...' London: Jarrold and Sons, [?1917] are available to see online through the internet archive at Archive copies are available for consultation in Cadbury Research Library, finding number YMCA Z11 and YMCA Z10 respectively.