SCUA

Hampshire Regional YMCA

Hampshire Regional YMCA Records, 1891-1978.

16 boxes (11.25 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 009

In February and March 1890, Smith College Professor J.H. Pillsbury organized several meetings for Northampton citizens interested in 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. Incorporation shortly followed, in January 1892.

In its 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. Throughout its history, the YMCA responded to local needs during periods of crisis or transition. During World War I and II, it established recreation programs for factory workers and soldiers stationed in the area, and, from 1942-44, was heavily involved in U.S.O work. In the 1950s and 1960s the YMCA began special programs on civil rights and desegregation. Over the years, a number of prominent local figures played a role in Hampshire Regional YMCA’s history including Robert L. Williston, Oliver L. Bradley, and Errol V. Ridgewell, Executive Director from 1943 through 1969.

Records of the Hampshire Regional YMCA document the Association from its first meetings in 1891 through 1978. The collection 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.

Biographical Note

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.

Scope and Contents of the 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).


Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on access:

The collection is open for research.

Preferred Citation

Cite as: Hampshire Regional YMCA Records (MS 9). Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

History of the Collection

Acquired from Susan Walker, 1984

Processing Information

Collection processed by Kenneth Fones-Wolf, 2003.


Additional Information

Sponsor
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Language
English.


Series Descriptions
1891-1978

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.

Scope and content:

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.

1923-1978

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.

1937-1967
Arrangement:

Alphabetically arranged by topic.

Scope and content:

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.

1912-1969

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.

Contents List
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

Subjects

  • Associations, institutions, etc.--Massachusetts--Northampton--History
  • Northampton (Mass.)--Social conditions
  • People's Institute (Northampton, Mass.)
  • Recreation--Massachusetts--Northampton--History
  • Social service and race relations--Massachusetts--Northampton--History
  • World War, 1939-1945

Contributors

  • Hampshire Regional YMCA (Northampton, Mass.)
  • Ridgwell, Errol V
  • Young Men's Christian Association (Northampton, Mass.)

Types of material

  • Minutes
  • Scrapbooks
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