Until further notice, the University of Minnesota Libraries Archives and Special Collections are open by appointment only and appointments are limited to UMN affiliates. Appointments must be made one week in advance of your visit to enable us to page and quarantine collection materials before use.

Please contact ascref@umn.edu for assistance or, if known, the curator of the collecting area you wish to use. We will continue to provide scans of requested research materials whenever possible, especially for our non-campus clientele.

 

About

2020 will likely prove to be a watershed year in American and YMCA history. COVID-19 has become the backdrop to a tumultuous period of social unrest and awakening related to the Black Lives Matter movement and policing in the United States. These events will likely impact the YMCA and the communities you serve for many years to come. In order to reflect back and learn from this moment, it is imperative that we document the transformative experiences of the past several months in addition to events yet to come.

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an unprecedented global disruption of society. Within a matter of days, communities enacted previously unthinkable social distancing measures in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. Organizations and businesses like the YMCA that are centered on person-to-person interactions have been particularly impacted by social distancing and shelter in place policies. Although we are now physically distant from one another, we remain connected through the YMCA.

This project, led by the Kautz Family YMCA Archives, seeks your personal stories about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected you, your Y, and your community. The organizational records, media messages, strategic plan documentation, and other business files of how the YMCA movement reacted to the COVID-19 global pandemic will be substantial and will provide valuable information for future Y professionals and historians. Often missing from these files, however,  are personal perspectives of this historical moment. To ensure a rich history is kept we invite you to record and share your story with us. In addition to adding depth to the historical record, collecting and sharing our stories is a way of reconnecting during this moment of dispersion. It is our hope that when we move forward we will be able to listen to these stories, reflect on what we have learned, and let them guide us into the future. 

How to participate

The method of recording your thoughts and experiences during this time is up to you! Some suggestions for individuals include writing a journal, making a video or audio recording, creating art, all of the above, and more. We are also interested in any documentation from your YMCA that contextualizes your submission. This could include PSAs, emails to staff and members, and planning documents that describe your strategy and adaptation. The only requirement is that it is a digital file that can be uploaded. You are also welcome to submit multiple files or make multiple submissions.

Importantly, submissions can be from individuals, interviews, group discussions, and individual YMCAs. Also, we welcome submissions from staff at all levels as well as members, volunteers, retirees, and affiliated organizations like Y’s Men. The YMCA is a remarkably diverse movement that draws all backgrounds into its sphere of influence, we seek to capture an inclusive and representative set of perspectives.

Everything that you donate will become part of the Kautz Family YMCA Archives at the University of Minnesota, and will be publicly accessible into the future.

Submissions can be made through this form

Questions to guide your response

The following questions are only suggestions. The story that you feel is important for you to share is the story we want to collect.

Individuals

  • Tell us about your YMCA? What is your role and what would a typical day look like?
  • How did you and your YMCA respond to COVID-19? What did week 1, (2,3,etc.) look like?
  • How have you been impacted?
  • What are you and your YMCA currently doing in response to COVID-19? What are your organizational adaptations or pivots?
  • What has been most challenging about this time?  What do you miss about your life before COVID-19?  Are there specific places, activities, or people at the YMCA that you miss?
  • What is COVID-19 making possible that never existed before?  What good do you see coming out of this moment? How can we re-frame this moment as an opportunity?
  • How have you been affected by the social unrest and awakening related to the Black Lives Matter movement?
  • What is it you want to remember about this time?  What have you learned?
  • What do you envision for when this pandemic ends? What will return from before, what will remain from now, and what will be new?
  • What is your hope for the Y and for the future?

Organizational Leaders

  • Tell us about your YMCA? What would a typical day look like?
  • How did you and your YMCA respond to COVID-19? What did week 1, (2,3,etc.) look like?
  • How did your team adapt to such an abrupt change in business practices?
  • How are you mentally handle making these tough business decisions?
  • What are you and your YMCA currently doing in response to COVID-19? What are your organizational adaptations or pivots?
  • What has been most challenging about this time?  What do you miss about your life before COVID-19?  Are there specific places, activities, or people at the YMCA that you miss?
  • What is COVID-19 making possible that never existed before?  What good do you see coming out of this moment? How can we re-frame this moment as an opportunity?
  • How have you been affected by the social unrest and awakening related to the Black Lives Matter movement?
  • What is it you want to remember about this time?  What have you learned?
  • What do you envision for when this pandemic ends? What will return from before, what will remain from now, and what will be new?
  • What have you learned or what are you learning?
  • What is your hope for the Y and for the future?

Associations

  • Tell us about your YMCA? What would a typical day look like?
  • How did your YMCA respond to COVID-19? What did week 1, (2,3,etc.) look like?
  • How has staffing been impacted?
  • What steps your Y has taken/is planning to support your emotional well-being?  How has it changed your experience as part of the YMCA community as a staff person, volunteer, or member?
  • What are you and your YMCA currently doing in response to COVID-19? What are your organizational adaptations or pivots?
  • What is COVID-19 making possible that never existed before?  What good do you see coming out of this moment? How can we re-frame this moment as an opportunity?
  • How has your Y’s role in the community been impacted?
  • What do you envision for when this pandemic ends? What will return from before, what will remain from now, and what will be new?
  • How has your association been affected by (or responded to) the social unrest and awakening related to the Black Lives Matter movement?
  • What is your hope for your Y, the Y Movement, and for the future?

Submit your contribution

 

Please use this form to provide information about you, your submission, and to upload the file(s).  

We have compiled some links to help making a recording

If you have questions or encounter problems, please contact us at ymcaarch@umn.edu