Archives and Special Collections
92 Snell Library
360 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA 02115
(617) 373-2351

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Collection Overview

Historical Note

Scope and Content Note


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Collection Overview
Name of Creator: Young Men's Christian Association of Greater Boston.
Title: Young Men's Christian Association of Greater Boston records
Date:n.d., 1833-2015 (bulk 1851-1980)
Reference Code:M13
Location Code:73/3-4, 63/1-2, 61/4, 45/1, 37/2-3, 42/2, FF5/D1
Extent:69.3 cubic ft. (116 boxes)
Scope and Content Abstract:The records of the YMCA of Greater Boston document the organization's administrative, religious, social, educational, and community activities from 1833 to 2014, with the bulk of the collection dating between 1851 and 1970. Materials include correspondence, meeting minutes, annual reports, committee reports, financial records, fund-raising records, photographs, 35mm color slides, negatives, scrapbooks, hymn books, newspaper clippings, newspapers and newsletters, publications, and oral histories.
Historical Abstract:The Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) of Greater Boston was the first YMCA chapter in North America. It was founded in 1851 by Captain Thomas Valentine Sullivan (1800-1859), an American seaman and missionary. He was influenced by the London YMCA and saw the association as an opportunity to provide a "home away from home" for young sailors on shore leave. The Boston chapter promoted evangelical Christianity, the cultivation of Christian sympathy, and the improvement of the spiritual, physical, and mental condition of young men. By 1853, the Boston YMCA had 1,500 members, most of whom were merchants and artisans. Members paid an annual membership fee to use the facilities and services of the association. Because of political, physical, and population changes in Boston during the second half of the century, the Boston YMCA established branch divisions to satisfy the needs of local neighborhoods. From its early days, the Boston YMCA offered educational classes. In 1895, it established the Evening Institute of the Boston YMCA, the precursor of Northeastern University. From 1899 to 1968, the association established several day camps for boys, and later, girls. Since 1913, the Boston YMCA has been located on Huntington Avenue. It continues to offer social, educational, and community programs, and presently maintains 31 branches and centers.
Language and Scripts:English
System of Arrangement:Organized into 7 series: 1) Administration; 2) Branches; 3) Camps; 4) Northeastern University and Affiliated Schools; 5) Subject Files; 6) Regalia and Memorabilia; and 7) Visual Materials.
Subjects and Contributors:
  • Boston Young Men's Christian Association
  • Camps -- New Hampshire -- Lake Winnipesaukee
  • Day Camps -- Massachusetts -- Boston
  • Northeastern University (Boston, Mass.) -- History
  • Outdoor recreation -- Massachusetts -- Boston
  • Vocational education -- Massachusetts -- Boston
  • Young Men's Christian associations -- Massachusetts -- Boston

Conditions Governing Access:The collection is unrestricted.
Accruals:Further accruals are expected.
Related Archival Materials:

The Archives and Special Collections Department captures the website content of the Young Men's Christian Association, which is accessible at:*/

Processor: Finding aid prepared by Christina Stone, Dana Bronson, July 14, 2014, September 12, 2016