[1885–1910 YMCA Manuscript Minute Books from Auburn, New York with Related Letters, Manuscripts and Ephemera].
1885–1910, Two manuscript Minute Books, of the YMCA of Auburn, New York. Over 500 handwritten pages & laid in ephemera document 25 years of its operations.
Two large ledger books containing handwritten minutes and reports from the Young Men’s Christian Association or YMCA of Auburn, New York, 1885–1910. These two separate manuscript volumes preserve the records of the general membership “Association” and its “Board of Managers,” each volume appropriately titled. The Auburn YMCA was founded in 1859 and is one of the oldest YMCAs in the country.
The Young Men’s Christian Association of Auburn New York, Formally opened their new Building Nos. 64 & 66 Genesee Street on Friday Evening December 18th 1885. The Services were as follows. Singing: “All hail the Power of Jesus name,” Reading Scripture by Rev. J. K. Dixon Pastor of 1st Baptist Church…Prayer by Rev. W. J. Bercher D.D. of Auburn Theological Seminary…Address by Robert R. McBurney of the International Committee YMCA, Address by Rev. George A. Hall, State Secretary. Singing solo by C. G. Adams, Address by Dr. F. M. Hamlin President of the Association… (p1, “Association”)
The YMCA’s location on Genesee Street placed it within close proximity to other important buildings in the community: the Seymour Public Library, the Willard-Case Mansion at 203 Genesee, the William Henry Seward House, and the Harriet Tubman Home.
The move to new premises appears to have been the occasion of drafting a new constitution and by-laws. The Association volume records voting on various articles and includes the the text of the constitution along with various emendations and corrections made to it:
Constitution. Preamble. We the active members of the Auburn Young Men’s Christian Association actuated by a desire to promote the spiritual welfare of the young men of Auburn and its vicinity, and to improve their mental, social and physical condition, Hereby adopt for our government the following constitution. Article I. Name and Object. Sec[tion]. 1. The name of this association shall be the Auburn Young Men’s Christian Association. Sec[tion]. 2 The object of this Association shall be the spiritual, intellectual, social and physical welfare of young men. Article II. Members. Sec[tion]. 1. The members of this Association shall be young men of good character at least sixteen years of age or 5 feet and four inches in height. The members shall be classed active or associate. Sec[tion]. 2. Any young man who is a member, in good standing, of any evangelical church may become an active member. Active members only shall have the right to vote and hold office. ... Article III. Application and Admission of Members. ... Article IV. Board of Directors. ... Article V. The Powers and Duties of the Board. ... Article VI. Duties and Powers of Officers. ... Article VII. Committees. ... Article VIII. Meetings. ... Article IX. Discipline. ... Article X. Seal. ... Article XI. Amendments. ... By-Laws of the Association. Article I. Meetings. ... Article II. Standing Committees… (pp78–86, “Association,” October 6, 1896)
Dating from the dedication of the YMCA’s new building in Auburn in 1885 and spanning the next 25 years, the ledgers contain minutes of regular monthly meetings as well as yearly and special meetings. Additionally, laid in letters, newspaper clippings, and historical ephemera serve to document the YMCA’s internal workings and its public programming. Outlying single dates of 1924 and 1949 appear to relate to the ledgers’ later use or preservation.
Selected entries give a sense of the Y. M. C. A.‘s activities and programs:
In the absence of the President the meeting was called to order and Devotional exercises conducted by the General Secretary. Mr. J. I. Gardner was elected President pro tem. The minutes of the last meeting were read and approved. ... J. A. Lamb, M. L. Walley and F. B. Gorham were elected delegates to the State Convention and the Secretary was authorized to fill up the number allowed our Association after consulting with those who could go. Reports were received from the Membership, Doctrinal, Reception, Junior Department, Boarding Home, Service of Song [?] and Jail committees and from the General Secretary. The meeting then adjourned after which the members listened to a very interesting talk by L. F. Sperry on “Opportunities for Young Men in Colorado.” Light refreshments were also served. (p31, “Association,” February 4, 1890)
YMCA’ s Anniversary. The Auburn Association Passes Its Thirty-Sixth Milestone. ... The old First Church was the scene of another interesting celebration, last night, commemorating the thirty-sixth anniversary of the Auburn Young Men’s Christian Association. When President Frank E. Swift rose to announce the opening exercises he looked out over an immense audience, embracing the friends of the association from all of the evangelical churches of the city. Pastors of various churches occupied seats on the platform and assisted in the devotional exercises. The stars and stripes were gracefully draped over the pulpit, while just below it, stood the association emblem, the triangle—body, mind and spirit. The Seminary quartet composed of Messrs. Fitch, Wilcox, Merwin and Caughey was down for two selections. “I am a Pilgrim,” and “Good Night,” both of which were rendered with feeling and effect. ... The whole history of association work is one of wonder and inspiration. Little did George Williams think when, fifty years ago, he, a poor and unknown clerk, gathered a few of his mates around him in his room and commenced this work, that he would live to see it reach its present proportions, of over 5,100 active associations, doing aggressive work among forty different nationalities, with a membership of 456,000 young men. Little did he think that the work thus humbly started would go on and on until he, as its founder, should be known throughout the whole christian world, and finally in acknowledgment of the good which he had done, he should be raised to knighthood by England’s queen. But these are now facts of history, given to us for our encouragement: and so let us each in his place take up his individual work with renewed vigor believing that in his own good tim the Master will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (p69, “Association,” [tipped in printed broadside “From Auburn Daily Advertiser, April 3rd, 1895”])
The Board of Managers governed by means of a large number of committees:
Special meeting of the Board of Managers held in pursuance of above call. ... President Somers then nominated the following is the standing committees of the Board for the ensuing year; Finance [a list of committee members, in some instances with the names of their individual Protestant churches, follows after each committee name]...Gymnasium…Entertainment…Building…Library & Reading Room… The following names were then proposed as the Association committees for the year and on motion these nominations were also ratified; – Devotional…Membership…Personal Purity…Reception…Invitation…Service of Song…Junior Department…Practical Talks…Lyceum…Employment…Jail…Educational Classes…Boarding House and Hotel… After discussion it was decided to try and raise $3500.00 by subscriptions for expenses this year… (p109–111, “Board of Managers,” April 14, 1891)
The Board of Managers volume is especially focused on the practical, day-to-day running of a large and very active religious/social group. Issues of income and expenses, such as membership subscriptions and hall rentals, acquisition of suitable reading materials, and building maintenance and electrification were important concerns:
Adjourned regular meeting Board of Managers Young Men’s Christian Association, held May 31st 1887 opened with devotional exercises conducted by President Mosher. ... Treasurer reported balance on hand $55.63, accepted and placed on file. The Room & Library Committee reported that Subscriptions to the New York Christian Advocate $1.75 Boston Herald $5.60 & Buffalo Express $5.25 would expire before next meeting and asked for their renewal, the request was granted. The Devotional Committee asked for $6.00 for the purchase of Hymn Books, the request was granted. The Committee on revision of the constitution reported progress. ... $1.50 was appropriated for the purpose of purchasing “The Book of Open Air Sports” published by the New York Tribune [the first book typeset by Linotype]. (p24, “Board of Managers,” May 31, 1887)
Regular meeting Board of Managers of the Auburn Y.M.C.A. held Thursday evening May 24. ... Motion Mr. Bristol ($2.25) Two Dollars and Twenty five cents was granted the Musical Comm[ittee]. to purchase College song books for the parlor. Motion Mr. Hemingway Building Committee were instructed to procure map of the wiring of our building; and a bid from the Auburn Electric Light Company to light our building. Motion of Mr. Hemingway the action of Sec’y Mix in renting Hall to Mr. Kurahara [likely Korehiro Sogaku Kurahara, Auburn Theological Seminary, Class of 1889] was approved. (p45, “Board of Managers,” May 24, 1888)
Regular meeting of Board of Managers called to order by President Trowbridge who read a scripture lesson. ... The Library Committee reported through chairman Hemingway recommending that the following papers and magazines be added to the list on file New York Tribune, San Francisco Argonaut, Public Opinion, Daily Graphic, Frank Leslie’s Weekly, Puck, Judge, Life, Outing, The Chautauquan, Wide Awake, Chautauqua Young Folks Journal. Also that the following papers be dropped Denver Times, Buffalo Christian Advocate, Christian Union, Christian Standard, American Sentinel. The committee further reported that when the Boys Room was open more paper would be wanted for that and recommended also that the Magazines with Judge, Puck, and Life be placed in the Parlors for the use of members only. ... Mr. Green for the Building Committee reported in regard to changes in lighting the building recommending that a contract be made with the Electric Light Company to place Fourteen twenty candle power lights, Twelve sixteen candle power lights and Four ten candle power lights in the rooms and hallways as designated by the committee these rooms to include the parlor, lecture room, reception room, office, reading room, toilet, bath & locker rooms. The thirty lights to be at the rate of $25.00 per month & 75¢ for renewal additional lights to be added at the same rate… Also to place arc light in the hall at the rate of 50¢ per night when used, the rate on the light in the gymnasium to be $7.00 per month in the future. (p66, “Board of Managers,” September 27, 1889)
The volume containing the Board of Managers’ minutes is virtually filled, containing approx. 395 pages of manuscript. It is concerned with the day to day running of the YMCA, particularly its finances and facilities. For example, on December 29, 1897, the YMCA was offered a gift of land by two sisters, Georgiana and Caroline Willard. A typed draft of the Board’s letter of thanks, signed by 12 members is tipped in:
To the Misses Willard: We, the board of Directors [word “Managers” struck out] of the Auburn Y.M.C.A., desiring to express to you our appreciation of your generosity and public spirit, for the gift of an athletic field to the Association, do now hereby by unanimous resolution, tender hour thanks for this gift. It is not alone for ourselves that we thank you, but in behalf of the many young people of the present and future generations who shall enter the opportunities for fuller physical development and wholesome recreation thus freely presented. The manner in which the ice rink, just opened, is patronized shows how highly your gift is appreciated. Nine hundred there enjoyed their Christmas Holiday and twelve hundred attended the opening night, January 4th. This gift is only another proof of your interest in the welfare of our Association, and deserves the warmest commendation. We hope and trust that the interest may continue. The success of our work depends on public sympathy and financial support. From you we have received both in large measure.(p257, “Board of Managers,” January 13, 1898)
When Georgiana Willard died in 1901, the Board received a letter of thanks from Caroline Willard for their condolences. This letter was duly pasted into the official minute book:
The Secretary read the following attached letter received from Miss Caroline Willard in response to a resolution passed at the member’s meeting. [Tipped in letter on black-edged mourning stationery:] Mr. A. H. Dadman, Secretary of the Y. M.C. A. Dear Mr. Dadman, The resolutions of your honorable Board of Trustees, expressing their appreciation of my dear sisters life and work in the Master’s Vineyard, have been received. They are a comfort to me. Thank you also, for the assurance of “tender sorrow” expressed for me in my bereavement, asking that, “We with her may share our griefs, and tears.” Will you kindly convey to the Board my heartfelt thanks for these resolutions; Believe me, Yours sincerely Caroline Willard. Auburn N. Y., Sept.28, 1901. (pp300–301, “Board of Managers,” October 1, 1901)
The generosity of women was essential to the successful functioning of the Y. M. C. A.:
A special meeting of the Board of Managers Y.M.C.A….was held on Friday evening January 7th at 8 O’Clock. Devotional exercises conducted by the president. ... The Room & Library Com[mittee] reported that Subscriptions had expired to Harper’s Weekly 3.25 Harpers Magazine 3.25 Century 3.50 Scientific American Supplement 5.60 Christian Weekly 2.00 British Workmen .50 Frank Leslies Magazine 2.00 New York Times 6.00 and asked for their renewal, the request was granted. The following minute was adopted. The Board of Managers desire to express to Miss Willard their appreciation of her generous gift of books to the library of the Association, and to assure her that the Accession will be of great value in replenishing it with new and very desirable literature. The managers would indicate their grateful acknowledgment of this continued evidence of kind interest in the work of the Association, manifested by Miss Willard and the members of her family… The managers beg to have this opportunity of saying that the Association is ever mindful that the larger and successful work now performed by and among the young men of the city, was made possible only by the munificence of another member of her family, one of its greatest benefactors, who foresaw the great possibilities of the Association in the enlarged sphere which would be developed by its entrance into a new and permanent home. ... The following minute was adopted The Board of Managers desire to express their grateful acknowledgment of the aid to the work of the Association afforded by the Ladies Auxiliary, they have pleasure in testifying to the encouragement given by the readiness of its members at all times to cooperate with the Association in making its home attractive to the young men of the city, Especially at this time they would convey to the ladies of the Auxiliary the thanks of all members of the Association for the gift of two handsome framed engravings, recently hung in its parlors for the presence of so many of its members in the building on New Year’s Day and for the generous entertainment provided on that occasion. (p17–18, “Board of Managers,” January 7, 1887)
Through a Ladies Auxiliary, the Y. M. C. A. Reached out to women, allowing them to use the Gymnasium during certain, though limited, hours:
Special meeting Board Managers held Monday, Dec. 3, 1888 12 M[eridiem]. Meeting opened with Devotional exercises by President. ... Mr. Richardson presented the matter of Lady’s Gymnasium classes and on motion Mr. Hemingway the following hours were given the Lady’s for work in the Gymnasium. Tuesdays from 4 to 5:00 P.M. Saturdays 2:30 to 4:00. Motion Mr. Bristol the following requirements were adopted for ladies fee to Gymnasium Classes, viz.: They shall become members of the Ladies Auxiliary and pay $2. to the Association. (p53, “Board of Managers,” December 3, 1888)
The laid in ephemera includes printed meeting announcements and gymnasium and art exhibition programs. The 1897 art exhibition program, “Exhibition of Drawings,” was sponsored by the Woman’s Auxiliary of the YMCA and included original drawings from contributors to Youth’s Companion magazine such as Alice Barber Stephens, Charles Dana Gibson, Howard Chandler Christie, and E. W. Kemble.
Description: [1885–1910 YMCA Manuscript Minute Books from Auburn, New York with Related Letters, Manuscripts and Ephemera].
[Auburn, Cayuga County, New York, 1885–1910; 1924 and 1949]. ff. and ff. Two Ledger Books. 16¼ x 11 inches. Full suede sheep; leather spine labels: “Association” and “Board of Managers;” marbled endpapers; all edges marbled. Approx. pp and pp of manuscript, respectively. With laid and tipped in related letters, newspaper clippings, ephemera, etc. Some wear to spine and boards; very good.
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