University Libraries

Andersen Library

April 17, 2014
8:30am - 7:00pm

Suggested and Past Topics for Research

Some Suggested Topics for Research in the YMCA Archives

One would expect the records of the YMCA of the USA to be a good source for studying its well-known recreational and character-building programs, and they are. But there are many additional research topics that may not be as predictable. The following are just some of the (broad!) research opportunities that could be supported by material in the YMCA Archives.

  • Non-traditional education (e.g. development of vocational training, night-schools, and community colleges)
  • Social innovation (e.g. promotion of physical culture, health campaigns, citizenship training, youth work, sexual education, public libraries)
  • Work with immigrants and "coming Americans" (including the development of early ESL programs)
  • The American anti-vice movement
  • Religious history from the 1850s; the process of secularization
  • The evolution of Evangelical Christianity in America
  • World history, especially Asia, after 1889
  • A record-making and record-keeping subculture.
  • Art and the visual, including postcards and posters
  • Early ecumenical work, especially with Orthodox churches
  • YMCA architecture
  • Work with students and the university YMCA movement (including the development of student orientations and programs to enhance student life)
  • Fitness, leisure, and sports
  • Photographs
  • Structure and management of a large institution of a federal character
  • Professionalization
  • Public health, at home and abroad
  • African American YMCAs, including as a case study of self-help
  • International relations

Records of the YMCA's extensive overseas activities include reports, correspondence, photographs, and publications sent back to the "home office" in New York by foreign secretaries to document their activities. These records contain information about YMCA program activities, relationships with local community leaders, and the social and political situations in the various countries. Some topics that could be studied in these records include:

  • The introduction of Western sports (basketball, volleyball, track and field, baseball) and American sports ideals abroad
  • Services to refugees, especially the White Russians who fled the Revolution
  • Work with Chinese laborers in France during World War I
  • War and famine relief in China
  • Public health campaigns in China in the 1920s
  • Rural reconstruction in India
  • Ecumenism in Israel/Palestine and Arab-Israeli relations
  • Relationship between the YMCA and the Catholic Church in Latin American countries
  • The YMCA's influence on statehood and democracy in eastern Europe after World War I
  • Japanese relations with Korea and China
  • Vocational training, especially in Korea and Ethiopia
  • The end of colonialism in Africa
  • The great fire and evacuation of Greeks from Smyrna (1922)

The YMCA was very extensively involved in services to members of the armed forces in wartime, both at home and overseas, starting with the Civil War. Some topics that could be studied in these records include the following:

  • The role of sports in the military during World War I
  • Desegregation of USO facilities during World War II
  • Services to prisoners of war, both in the U.S. and in Europe

Past Research Topics

A sample listing of some of the subjects others have successfully investigated using material held by the Kautz Family YMCA Archives is presented below as an aid to understanding the breadth of research topics supported by the collection. For more information on this research or to find out about related material in the Archives' collections, contact the staff.

  • The YMCA response to the challenge of McCarthyism
  • The role of the intercollegiate YMCA and YWCA in the post-World War II civil rights movement
  • The impact of the YMCA on Japanese national identity and Japanese Christianity
  • The YMCA and the social gospel
  • The influence of the YMCA on Chinese public health care policies
  • Christianity in China
  • Women and basketball
  • The architectural legacy of the YMCA and its role in the social history of modern architecture in the United States
  • Racism and nativism in YMCA work with immigrants
  • The education of black soldiers during World War I
  • The evolution of the Council for Religion in Independent Schools
  • The role of sports in the military during World War I
  • Baseball as a civil religion
  • Work with prisoners of war
  • Pedagogical methods for teaching science
  • The YMCA and American manhood
  • The challenges of using archival collections to study the history of sexuality
  • Homosexuality in the YMCA
  • The history and significance of the YMCAs work with women and girls
  • The relationship between physical education and Christianity
  • The American YMCA and the creation of the Czechoslovak state
  • The use of photography as a morale boosting device during World War II
  • The role of the YMCA on college and university campuses

Previously Published Research

The following is a list of major publications of the last 10 to 15 years based on research done all or in part at the Kautz Family YMCA Archives. Almost all items are available in the Archives collections. Contact the staff for more information.

  • Alcorn, Sandy. Strong Roots: A Group Memoir of George Williams College. 2007.
  • Anderson, Peter. Charles Eastman: Physician, Reformer, and Native American Leader. Chicago: Children's Press, 1992.
  • "America's Haven: The YMCA at 150." Produced by the History Channel. Broadcast December 29, 2001.
  • Anthony, David H., III. Max Yergan: Race Man, Internationalist, Cold Warrior. New York: NYU Press, 2006.
  • Ben-Asher Gitler, Inbal. "The Architecture of the Jerusalem YMCA 1919-1933: Constructing Multiculturalism." Dissertation. Tel Aviv University, 2006.
  • Bieler, Stacey. "Patriots or Traders"? A History of American-Educated Chinese Students. Armonk, N.Y.: M. E. Sharpe, 2003.
  • Beltrone, Art and Lee Beltron. A Wartime Log: A Remembrance from Home Through the American YMCA. Charlottesville, Va.: Howell Press, 1994.
  • Coventry, Michael T. "'God, Country, Home & Mother': Soldiers, Gender and Nationalism in Great War America." Dissertation. Georgetown University, 2004.
  • Davidann, John Thares. A World of Crisis and Progress: The American YMCA in Japan, 1890-1930. Bethlehem, Pa.: Lehigh University Press, 1998.
  • Dunch, Ryan. Fuzhou Protestants and the Making of a Modern China, 1857-1927 New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001.
  • Ericsson, Dwight and John Shepherd. Widjiwagan: A History from 1929 to 1989. Saint Paul, Minn.: Bewell Offset, 1994.
  • Elfenbein, Jessica Ivy. "To 'Fit Them for Their Fight With the World': The Baltimore YMCA and the Making of a Modern City, 1852-1932." Dissertation. University of Delaware, 1996.
  • Gavin, Lettie. American Women in World War I: They Also Served. Niwot, Col.: University Press of Colorado, 1997.
  • Gustav-Wrathall, John Donald. Take the Young Stranger by the Hand: Same-Sex Relations and the YMCA. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998.
  • Hillmer, Paul Allen. "'This is Practical Religion': The Cleveland YMCA and the Social Service Movement." Dissertation. University of Minnesota, 2001.
  • Hillmer, Paul Allan. The Cleveland YMCA : Reflections on 150 Years of Service to the Community Cleveland, OH: YMCA of Greater Cleveland, 2004.
  • Hillmer, Paul Allen. Breaking New Ground, Building Strong Lives: 140 Years of Youth Work with the Minneapolis YMCA, 1866-2006. Minneapolis, MN: YMCA of Metropolitan Minneapolis, 2006.
  • Hinding, Andrea. Proud Heritage: A History in Pictures of the YMCA in the United States. 150th Anniversary ed. Virginia Beach, Va.: Donning Company, 2001.
  • Keller, Charles Andrew. "Making Model Citizens: The Chinese YMCA, Social Activism, and Internationalism in Republican China, 1919-1937." Dissertation. University of Kansas, 1996.
  • Lupkin, Paula Rachel. Manhood Factories: YMCA Architecture and the Making of Modern Urban Culture, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010.
  • Lupkin, Paula Rachel. "YMCA Architecture: Building Character in the American City, 1869-1930." Dissertation. University of Pennsylvania, 1997.
  • Morris, Andrew D. Marrow of the Nation: A History of Sport and Physical Culture in Republican China. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004.
  • Miller, Matthew. "American Philanthropy among Russians: The Work of the YMCA, 1900-1940." Dissertation. University of Minnesota, 2006.
  • Mjagkij, Nina. Light in the Darkness: African Americans and the YMCA, 1852-1946. Lexington, Ky.: University Press of Kentucky, 1994.
  • Mjagkij, Nina and Margaret Spratt, eds. Men and Women Adrift: The YMCA and the YWCA in the City. New York: New York University Press, 1997.
  • Nurser, John S. For All Peoples and All Nations: The Ecumenical Church and Human Rights. Washington D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 2005.
  • Nutt, Rick L. The Whole Gospel for the Whole World: Sherwood Eddy and the American Protestant Mission. Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 1997.
  • "Outside the Lines: World War II Fields of Play, Fields of Battle." Produced by ESPN. Broadcast December 7, 2001.
  • Peters, Scott. The Promise of Association: A History of the Mission and Work of the YMCA at the University of Illinois, 1873-1997. Champaign, Illinois: University YMCA, 1997.
  • Putney, Clifford. Muscular Christianity: Manhood and Sports in Protestant America, 1880-1920. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2001.
  • Raney, David Alan. "In the Lord's Army: The United States Christian Commission in the Civil War." Dissertation. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2001.
  • Risedorph, Kimberly Ann. "Reformers, Athletes and Students: The YMCA in China, 1895-1935." Dissertation. Washington University, 1994.
  • Robertson, Nancy Marie. Christian Sisterhood, Race Relations, and the YWCA, 1906-46. Chicago: U of Illinois Press, 2007.
  • Setran, David P. The college "Y": Student Religion in the Era of Secularization New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.
  • Steuer, Kenneth Andrew. "Pursuit of an 'Unparalleled Opportunity': The American YMCA and Prisoner-of-War Diplomacy Among the Central Power Nations During World War I, 1914-1923." Dissertation. University of Minnesota, 1998.
  • Van Slyck, Abigail. A Manufactured Wilderness: Summer Camps and the Shaping of American Youth, 1890-1960 Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006.
  • Winter, Thomas. Making Men, Making Class: The YMCA and Working Men, 1877-1920. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002.
  • Xing, Jun. Baptized in the Fire of Revolution: The American Social Gospel and the YMCA in China, 1919-1937. Bethlehem, Pa.: Lehigh University Press, 1996. [Chinese translation by Xiaoyang Zhao of Beijing University, 2006]
  • Y's Men International. A Fellowship of Service: The 75 Year History of the Y's Men International Service Club in Partnership with the YMCA. Geneva, Switzerland: Y's Men International, 1997.
  • Zeiger, Susan. Sam's Service: Women Workers with the American Expeditionary Force, 1917-1919. Cornell, 1999.
  • Zuo, Furong. Social Gospel and Social Service: A Case Study of Peking YMCA (1909-1949). Hong Kong: Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2003.