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Indianapolis Young Men's Christian Association records

Identifier: L406

Scope and Contents

The collection consists mainly of the internal documents and correspondence of the Indianapolis Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) between the years of 1943 and 1961. It contains the bylaws of the Indianapolis YMCA from 1955 plus some revised additions of those bylaws. The collection also holds the meeting notes, minutes and correspondence of many of the different committees within the organization.

The Indianapolis YMCA did participate in some different cooperative ventures throughout its history as well. In the collection, YMCA and YWCA cooperation and interracial cooperation files are present. There is a little bit of information regarding other YMCAs within the collection. Mostly this information is in the form of pamphlets or brochures on different Indiana YMCAs, or their camps. However, there is also some information on the National YMCA and cooperative efforts between their group and the Indianapolis YMCA.

Because lack of funding often follows a non-profit organization such as the YMCA, there is a large portion of the collection devoted to fundraising, including attempts and/or successes at receiving Lilly endowments and grants. Actual financial reports for the YMCA for some years are also included.

Reports from the different branches of the Indianapolis YMCA are also held in the collection. Often these give information about the numbers of people that were becoming members, attending programming, and the new programs that were developed by the organization.


  • 1940-1961


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Administrative History

The Indianapolis Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) formed in 1854. Over the course of its first ninety or so years, the YMCA began to build buildings, programming, and relationships with the community. These relationships persisted into the World War II era when some things changed and others retained their continuity. During the early 1940s, Parker P. Jordan became the general secretary of the Indianapolis YMCA.

Jordan supervised new happenings in the organization. For instance, he implemented the creation of branches of the Indianapolis YMCA out to different areas in the city. In this way, the YMCA was readily available to more people throughout the area, and membership grew. Of course, the early 1940s were also the time of WWII, and the YMCA aided in anyway they could, usually helping servicemen by giving them a place to stay as well as organizing activities for them.

By 1947, Indianapolis YMCA owned its own Camp area at Flat Rock in St. Paul, Indiana. This continued the rise in available programming and possibilities for the YMCA. In the early 1950s, building funds were needed for the expanding branch YMCAs and other funds were needed for the continuation of work done in the community by the YMCA. Ultimately, the Indianapolis YMCA had to drop some of their programming because it was no longer needed, and they were able to develop new programming to get the community involved.

The Young Men’s Christian Association was formed to aid a growing city. It reached its centennial with great success and continued through the 1960s as an organization that got involved in community needs. The Indianapolis YMCA sustains involvement in the community to this day. A few of the Presidents of the Indianapolis YMCA between 1934 an 1954 were Fermor Cannon, Earl H. Schmidt, and Harold F. Brigham. However, many more members of Indianapolis society took part in this organization, including Benjamin Harrison, 23rd President of the United States.


1 Cubic Feet (3 manuscript boxes)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged by subject.

Custodial History

This collection was received by Rare Books and Manuscripts as a donation from George Mercer.


No further additions are expected.

Processing Information

Collection processing completed 2003/11 by Amy C. Belcher. EAD finding aid created 2018/05/07 by Lauren Patton.
Indianapolis Young Men's Christian Association records
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Repository

140 North Senate Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204 U.S.A.