Abstract

Hampshire Regional YMCA founded in 1890. Contains minutes, constitution and by-laws, reports, board correspondence, ledgers, publications, scrapbooks, and youth, recreation, and wartime program files. Also includes material relating to building campaigns and properties. Additionally documents the long career of Errol V. Ridgwell.

Access

The collection is open for research.

Language:

English
Hampshire Regional YMCA Records
1891-1978
16 boxes (11.25 linear ft.)
Call no.: MS 9

Background on Hampshire Regional YMCA (Northampton, Mass.)

In February and March 1890, Smith College Professor J.H. Pillsbury organized several meetings for interested Northampton citizens on the work of the Young Men's Christian Association. Within a month, prominent local men, including C.H. Lyman, A.L. Williston, George Washington Cable, and F.N. Kneeland, established an Executive Board and committees with representatives from all the Protestant churches to raise funds and secure a building to begin the Northampton YMCA. By December, the Executive Board had leased the Smith Charities Building to start gymnasium classes, and in January 1891, Thomas Johnson was hired as the first general secretary. Incorporation followed shortly thereafter, in January 1892.

In the first decade, the YMCA established a Boy's Department under the direction of Robert L. Williston, started a Women's Auxiliary, and began a building fund that resulted in the purchase of property from A.L. Williston on King Street at "a nominal sum". The building, costing $30,500, was dedicated on October 15, 1904. By 1912, the YMCA had also raised an additional $25,000 for its summer camp, Nonotuck.

Throughout its history, the YMCA responded to local needs during periods of crisis or transition. During World Wars I and II, it established recreation programs for factory workers and soldiers stationed in the area. In 1942-44, the Hampshire YMCA became heavily involved in U.S.O. work, and, in the post-war era, developed programs with low-cost membership dues for returning servicemen. In 1936, the YMCA helped organize local flood relief, and during the depression it served as headquarters for the National Youth Administration. Similarly, the YMCA adapted to new groups in the area. In the 1920s it changed membership requirements to meet the needs of new immigrant groups entering Northampton and Easthampton to work in local factories. In the 1950s and 1960s, the YMCA began special programs on civil rights and desegregation.

Cutbacks in support from the Northampton Community Chest in the 1950s resulted in a decline in service in the post-war era. In 1960 the YMCA even considered a merger with the People's Institute. When the proposed merger collapsed, however, the YMCA established a new building fund drive that revived the Association and allowed it to build a more modern facility on Prospect Street at a cost of approximately one million dollars in 1966.

Over the years, a number of prominent local figures have played a role in the Hampshire Regional YMCA's history. Calvin Coolidge, George Washington Cable, and A.L. Williston were among the early board members. Robert L. Williston served on the board for nearly forty years, and Oliver L. Bradley for 36. Errol V. Ridgwell directed the YMCA's activities through four decades, serving as Executive Director from 1943 through 1969.

Contents of Collection

Records of the Hampshire Regional YMCA document the organization from 1891 to 1978. Materials include minutes, reports, board correspondence, program files (1937-1970), ledgers, publications and scrapbooks. Records were maintained by the various Executive Directors.

The papers occupy approximately 11.25 linear feet, and are divided into five series, including Administration (1891-1978), Reports (1908-1978), Correspondence (1923-1978), Programs and Activities (1937-1967), and Publications, Ledgers, and Scrapbooks (1912-1969).

Organization of the Collection
Series descriptions

Includes the constitution and by-laws of the Association, historical sketches of the Hampshire YMCA completed in 1952 and 1969 by Errol Ridgwell, and minutes of the Board of Directors, the Annual Meeting, and the Ladies' Auxiliary. The early Board and Annual Meeting minutes are combined in a single volume (1891-1909), followed by relatively complete separate runs through 1978.

1908-1978

Arrangement:

The reports are arranged chronologically by year for each category.

Contents:

Comprised of the reports of officers and various YMCA committees and departments. For a typical year, the committee and department reports include the Membership, House, and Camp committees, and the Boys', Businessmen's, Women's, and Activity Departments. The bulk of the officers' reports originate from the monthly reports of the general secretary, but some reports from other officers or professional staff are included. These reports are particularly thorough for the years 1935 to 1970. A third sequence is comprised of the financial committee's monthly statements and reports. For the years 1937 to 1970, there also exist published annual reports of the Association's programs and activities.

Consists largely of the correspondence of the Executive Board or the General Secretary, concentrated primarily between the years 1930 and 1960. Most of the letters reflect routine YMCA business, but some highlight the social and cultural ideas which influenced or shaped YMCA policies.

Arrangement:

Alphabetically arranged by topic.

Contents:

Includes correspondence, newsletters, publications, and information about the variety of programs implemented by the Hampshire YMCA, including social action as well as recreational, cultural, and club activities, especially during the 1940s and 1950s. The files also include material about building campaigns, funding agencies, properties, and the proposed merger with the People's Institute.

Contains early financial ledgers (1912-1921), miscellaneous YMCA publications and newsletters (1945-1960), and several scrapbooks documenting the 1920s, World War II, the 1965 building campaign, and the long career of Errol V. Ridgwell.

Collection inventory
Series 1. Administration
1891-1978

Constitution and By-Laws
1936, 1964

Box 1
Historical Sketch of the Northampton YMCA
1952, 1969

Box 1
Board of Directors Minutes
1909-1939

Box 1
Board of Directors Minutes
1940-1963

Box 2
Board of Directors Minutes
1964-1978

Box 3
Annual Meeting Minutes
1891-1978

Box 3
Ladies Auxiliary Minutes
1905-1913, 1917, 1920

Box 3
Series 2. Reports
1908-1978

Arrangement:

The reports are arranged chronologically by year for each category.

Officers Reports
1925-1969

Box 4
Committee and Department Reports
1915-1947

Box 4
Committee and Department Reports
1948-1978

Box 5
Finance Committee and Statements
1908, 1922-1939

Box 5
Finance Committee and Statements
1940-1978

Box 6
Annual Reports
1937-1969

Box 7
Series 3. Correspondence
1923-1978

Board Correspondence
1923-1961

Box 8
Board Correspondence
1962-1978

Box 9
Series 4. Programs and Activities
1937-1967

Arrangement:

Alphabetically arranged by topic.

Activities and Clubs
1941

Box 10
Boys Workers Forum
1938-1939

Box 10
Brief Outlines of Services
1956

Box 10
Building Campaign
1962-1965

Box 10
Building Committee
1964-1967

Box 10
Camp Hodgkins
1956-1957

Box 10
City Bureau Program
1965-1966

Box 10
Civil Rights
1964

Box 10
Community Chest
1951

Box 10
Community Youth Program
1958-1960

Box 10
Cosmian Hall
1945-1954

Box 11
Cost Analysis Workshop
1958

Box 11
Day Camp
1955-1959

Box 11
Fund Raising
1960-1961

Box 11
Hi-Y Ceremony
1952

Box 11
Junior Hi-Y
1945

Box 11
Juvenile Delinquency
1943

Box 11
Kiwanis Underprivileged Child Committees
1954

Box 11
Leaders Club
1966-1967

Box 11
Merger with People's Institute
1960-1963

Box 11
Northampton Community Survey
1963

Box 11
Northampton Recreation Program
1948-1949

Box 11
Northampton YMCA Survey
1936

Box 11
Older Boys Conference
1937-1947

Box 11
Organized Labor
1944

Box 12
Other Y's
1959-1965

Box 12
Overseas Work
1945, 1948

Box 12
Program Ideas
1949

Box 12
Program Planning
1944

Box 12
Returning Servicemen Program
1943-1945

Box 12
Segregation
1965

Box 12
Services to Youth
1943-1945

Box 12
Sex Education
1945-1949

Box 12
Speeches
1955-1956

Box 12
Talks and Discussions
1946-1947

Box 12
Training and Leadership
1943, 1948

Box 12
U.S.O. Work
1942-1955

Box 12
YMCA Men's Club
1940-1947

Box 12
YM-YWCA Relations
1960

Box 12
Y-Weds Club
1949-1966

Box 12
Young Adult Conference
1952

Box 12
Series 5. Publications, Ledgers, and Scrapbooks
1912-1969

Miscellaneous Publications
1945-1960

Box 13
Photographs
undated

Box 13
Building Campaign Clippings
1965

Box 13
Scrapbook
1942-1943

Box 13
Ledgers
1912, 1915-1918

Box 13
Ledgers
1919-1921

Box 14
Scrapbook
1924

Box 14
Scrapbook
1925

Box 15
Ridgwell Scrapbook
1936-1951

Box 15
Scrapbooks
1960s

Box 16
Administrative information
Provenance

Acquired from Susan Walker, 1984

Processing Information

Collection processed by Kenneth Fones-Wolf, 2003.

Acknowledgments

Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Copyright and Use (More informationConnect to publication information)

Cite as: Hampshire Regional YMCA Records (MS 9). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.

Search terms
Subjects
  • Associations, institutions, etc.--Massachusetts --Northampton--History--Sources.
  • Northampton (Mass.)--Social conditions--Sources.
  • Recreation--Massachusetts--Northampton--History--Sources.
  • Social service and race relations--Massachuetts --Northampton--History--Sources.
Names
  • Hampshire Regional YMCA (Northampton, Mass.)--Archives.
  • People's Institute (Northampton, Mass.)
  • Ridgwell, Errol V.
  • Young Men's Christian Association (Northampton, Mass.)
  • Young Men's Christian Association (Northampton, Mass.)--Archives.
Genre terms
  • Scrapbooks.