Inclusive dates
  • The YMCA of Greater Richmond Records, 1854-2004, are housed in 62 boxes and arranged into seven series. Series have been designated for I. Annual reports and Minutes, II. Research files- Chronological, III. Research files- Subject, IV. Newspaper clippings and scrapbooks, V. Photographs, VI. YMCA Library, and VII. Artifacts. The records include annual reports, by-laws, constitutions, correspondence, deeds, library books, memorials, minutes, newsletters, newspaper clippings, photographs, programs, publications, reports, research notes, and vouchers. These records document the history of the YMCA in Greater Richmond and the organizations work within the community
  • The records were gathered for the research and publication of the anniversary book entitled, "The Richmond YMCA 1854-2004," by Edward R. Crews. This collection does not portray the records as they were housed by the organization, but rather the manner in which they were organized for the publication of the book. It is important for researchers to note this artificial arrangement because its use has caused much overlap between the series. It is therefore important that researchers cross-check subjects, dates, and events to yield all the information on a particular topic. Since the material is described at the folder level, researchers should have little problem finding these links
  • While the collection contains some earlier annual reports, newsletters, photographs, and programs, the majority of the records are from the mid to late 20th century. Of note is Series V: Photographs, 1854-2004. Some of the earliest known photographs can be found here, along with a large selection of photographs of YMCA members at various social and sporting events from the 1920's to the 1960's. Similar to the Research series, the Photograph series is subdivided into chronological and subject subseries
  • The Research files (Series II and III) contain the bulk of the materials used during research for the anniversary book. The files were maintained in their original order, with some files arranged chronologically and others by subject. Therefore, as with the rest of the collection, there is much overlap between the two series. Again, researchers must cross-check both series to find all related materials. For example annual reports, by-laws, brochures, and newsletters can be found in both series. The chronological files contain more 19th century documents, while the subject files contain more 20th century documents. The subject files also contain research notes and rough drafts for the anniversary book
  • A more in-depth description of the collection can be found in the series level description. It is recommended that the researcher read the series level scope and content notes thoroughly before accessing the collection
  • Series I: Annual reports and Minutes, 1905-2002, are housed in 12 boxes and arranged alphabetically by folder title. The annual reports, 1954-1991, consist mainly of typed unpublished financial reports submitted by the member associations (Richmond) to the National Council of the YMCA. These reports include information on population, membership statistics, salaries, expenditures, and income. (Published annual reports can be found in Series II and III.) The financial summaries, 1956-1979, include budgets and monthly financial details. The minutes include Board of Directors Minutes, 1929-2001, Boys' Bible Study Club Minutes, 1905-1909, and Camp Richmond Minutes, 1935-1947. The minutes also include board of directors membership lists, certificate of incorporations, dormitory statistics, policies, reports, resolutions, and treasury reports
  • Series II: Research files- Chronological, 1855-2004, are housed in 6 boxes and arranged chronologically by decade. Included are annual reports, brochures, checkbooks, clippings, constitutions, correspondence, newsletters, programs, reports, and vouchers. The original filing system used by the YMCA History Committee was maintained as much as possible. The items in each chronological file were arranged by a system of numbers and alphabets and many folders contain note cards highlighting specific documents. It was assumed that a research assistant of the YMCA History Project Committee had a key for arranging these materials, but that key was not discovered
  • Series III: Research files- Subject, 1854-2004, are housed in 9 boxes and arranged alphabetically by folder title. This series is similar to the Chronological files and there is much overlap between the two series, although the Subject files mostly contains 20th century documents. Included are agreements and deeds, files on the various Richmond YMCA branches, newsletters, publications, drafts and research notes for the book
  • Series IV: Newspaper Clippings and scrapbooks, 1910-2003, are housed in 14 boxes and are arranged chronologically. Included are clippings mainly from the "Richmond Times Dispatch" and other local Richmond newspapers such as the "Chesterfield Gazette," "Henrico/Hanover Plus," "Hanover County Herald-Progress," the "Progress Index," and the "Richmond News Leader." Topics include the opening of new YMCA branches, anniversary celebrations, activities and festivals, summer camp, capital campaigns and expansions, board appointments, work with the Richmond city government, programs, opening of the YMCA to women, tournament scores, and elections of officers. Also included are 7 scrapbooks, containing mostly clippings dating from 1910-1988 (bulk 1960-1985)
  • Series V: Photographs, 1854-2004, are housed in 12 boxes and arranged into 5 subseries. Subseries have been designated for Chronological; Branches; Staff; Subject files; and Slides, Cds, and Oversize. As with the paper records, all of the photographs were original source materials used in research for the book, "The Richmond YMCA 1854-2004: 150th Anniversary." This series contains a wide variety of photographs of Board members, facilities, members, and staff. Of note are the numerous photographs of members attending social and sporting events, ranging from 1920-1990. There are few, if any, photographs from the pre Civil War era, mostly reproduction photographs of annual reports and sketches of Civil War scenes. Included are photographs of Board members and staff from the 1940's and 1990's. Unfortunately many of the later staff photographs are unidentified
  • Series VI: YMCA Library, 1906-2004, consists of over 80 books published by the YMCA, housed in a lending library in the YMCA, or volumes used during the research of the book by Edward R. Crews. Of note are the YMCA Yearbook and Official Roster and Directories, 1932-2002, and the Statistical Summary and Analysis, 1982-1999. Included are numerous books on the history of the national and international branches of the YMCA, service of the YMCA during war time, story of the Railroad Y, and history on the founders of the YMCA. Also included are various books on the history of the Civil War and researching skills
  • Series VII: Artifacts, 1979-2000, include several plaques, t-shirts, and a flag
Member of
  • Accessioned
  • Described
Biographical or historical data
  • The Young Men's Christian Association was created on 6 June 1844 in London, England, by George Williams. The organization was formed to provide young, working men of the Industrial Revolution a safe haven to participate in healthy activities. At the Great Industrial Exposition of 1851 in England, British YMCA members passed out flyers and encouraged visitors to start chapters in their home countries. By 1855, 329 YMCA's were in operation in nine nations. The first North American YMCA began in November 1851 in Montreal and the first YMCA in the United States opened December 1851 in Boston.
  • On 19 December 1854, the Richmond YMCA was founded, electing Peter V. Daniel, Jr., as their first president. The headquarters opened May 1855 at the Goddin Building, at Bank and 11th Street in Richmond facing Capitol Square. The organization focused on providing a safe home for young men of the city, building a library, and offered lectures, devotional meetings, and Bible classes.
  • By 1882 the Richmond YMCA was the nation's sixth largest YMCA. It drew members to numerous programs, classes, and lectures and its ever expanding library. To accommodate the growing organization, the Richmond YMCA constructed its first building on Sixth and Main Street, complete with a bowling alley, gym, library, classrooms, and lecture hall. Some of the most popular activities were the sports and fitness programs, embracing the idea of "muscular Christianity."
  • The African-American community became involved with the YMCA when in 1887 the Richmond Colored Young Men's Christian Association was formed. In 1889 the Richmond Colored YMCA became the first African-American YMCA to own its own facility, located on East Leigh Street in Jackson Ward (Leigh Street YMCA). Reverend John Milton Waldron was the first YMCA's executive director and Reverend Scott C. Burrell served as secretary. The YMCA's remained segregated until 1965 when it agreed to accept "all qualified applicants to membership without regard to race, color or creed."
  • In 1910 the YMCA expanded and opened a new building on Seventh and Grace Streets, with the area's first YMCA pool. In 1942 the YMCA moved to its present day location on East Franklin and North Foushee streets. Throughout the world wars the YMCA was involved in wartime bond drives and welcoming soldiers to the facilities. The YMCA also encouraged the involvement of women and children in the organization. With the explosion of the suburban lifestyle in the 1950's, the Richmond YMCA provided youth programs on a massive scale and created suburban branches to serve the population. The South Richmond Branch became the first Y suburban outpost and was established in 1955.
  • Throughout the 1970-1990's the Richmond YMCA expanded into several other neighborhoods including Chesterfield, Chickahominy, Downtown, North Richmond, Patrick Henry, Shady Grove, and Tuckahoe. In 2004 there were over 12 branches in Richmond and Petersburg and the counties of Chesterfield, Goochland, Hanover, Henrico, and Powhatan. These branches annually help over 128,000 members and non-members and have a staff of over 1,400. The YMCA of Greater Richmond focuses on providing a place for members of the community to enrich their lives and achieve their fullest potential in spirit, mind, and body.
  • For a more indepth history of the organization read, "The Richmond YMCA 1854-2004," by Edward R. Crews (2004).
Cataloging source
Form designation
  • The Library of Virginia
Cumulative index finding aids
  • Inventory
  • Inventory
Immediate source of acquisition
YMCA of Greater Richmond
Organization method
Organized into 7 series; I. Annual reports and Minutes, II. Research files- Chronological, III. Research files- Subject, IV. Newspaper clippings and scrapbooks, V. Photographs, VI. YMCA Library, and VII. Artifacts.
Reproduction note
Type of unit
cu. ft.



Member of

Library Locations

    • Library of VirginiaBorrow it
      800 East Broad Street, Richmond, VA, 23219, US
      37.5415632 -77.4360805
Processing Feedback ...