Here are some compelling reasons why all YMCAs should consider establishing a plan to preserve their historical records:
- Be Part of a YMCA Tradition With over 150 years of history in the United States, the YMCA is the nation's oldest and largest social institution. As a national organization, the YMCA has recognized the importance of preserving and documenting its history from early on, establishing its historical library and archives in 1877 (More about the history of the YMCA archives). Each YMCA is an important part of its local community. Its records provide valuable documention, both of the history of the Y and of the local community that built and supports it.
- Understand Your YMCA and Community History links us with our past and helps us understand who we are. Your YMCA -- whether it is 150 years old or one month old -- tells a story of your community. Understanding your Y's past helps us remember how we came to be and where we ought to go now.
- Historical Records are a Valuable Resource for Your YMCA to Leverage Historical records are useful as resources for your organization to reference and use when recognizing important anniversaries and milestones in its history. YMCAs have used their historical records to publish commemorative histories, produce exhibits, and develop eye-catching and unique marketing or fundraising materials and products.
- Preserving Historical Records Makes Good Sense Administratively Information is an institutional resource for decision-making. New staff need to know about previous activities, commitments, and decisions. As the Spanish-born philosopher George Santayana so famously said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Knowing your history helps in developing a more complete understanding of your mission and provides perspectives on today's problems.