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YMCA at Lehigh 1894-1936

Identifier: SC MS 0197

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of three books, two booklets and tickets, and numerous letters.


  • 1894 - 1936


Biographical / Historical

The Young Men’s Christian Association was founded in 1844 in England by George Williams for service to young men. In 1851 the organization was established in the United States beginning in Boston and spreading to many cities in the Northeast including Pennsylvania in 1854 as autonomous associations. When the Civil War broke out a United States Christian Commission for the Army and Navy was organized largely through the influence of the organization of these associations for ministering to soldiers in hospitals and camps and the field of battle. The Y.M.C.A. cooperated in the effort by providing food and coal for the families of the volunteers. The temporal and spiritual needs of the soldiers were taken care of. After the war this Christian Commission closed but the local Y.M.C.A. groups took up the cause of service providing educational and social opportunities among colored men and college students organizing Bible groups. The expansion of the American Y.M.C.A. was anticipated in the student department during the 1890’s as an optimism of Americans in the future of their country. Business and professional men, ministers and laymen combined in effort to bring to communities the improvement of body, mind and soul. The Pennsylvania organization recognized a special need among the railroad workers and younger men. The weakness of the Association was in the many changes in the secretarial force in Pennsylvania with as many as 75 changes in a year. In 1894 a new phase of the State’s Y.M.C.A. work came into existence under the name of the National Guard of Pennsylvania which again organized to provide help to the army during the Spanish American War. By the end of the century, the College Associations in Pennsylvania numbered 63. During the Jubilee period (1904-06), it was established that before a new association is established, it be encouraged to secure money for a building free of debt and organize only associations that will employ a General Secretary. The young men should agree in advance to become members and to pay a fee. The Allentown Convention of 1907 brought the importance of obligation to the foreign young men within the State. A Committee was organized to study the problem of immigration and the Y.M.C.A.’s relation to the hosts of immigrants in the State. With regard to this collection, it appears that there was a Christian student body represented by Lehigh University’s requirement to attend a chapel service at least until 1894. This movement encouraged the establishment of a Y.M.C.A. group on campus located first in Christmas Hall and eventually Drown Hall. There was an opinion that Y.M.C.A denoted more an urban organization, so a name change on campus occurred to reflect an intercollegiate nature, so in 1907 the proposed name change becomes the Lehigh University Christian Association. This collection reflects a time span from 1894 to 1936.


0.4 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



This collection of correspondence reflects the activities of Lehigh’s campus Christian group which aligned itself with the international organization of the Young Men’s Christian Association. The YMCA was encouraged by the University’s President Henry S. Drinker and several professors acting as advisors however the YMCA provided its own personnel to run the operation on campus.


The material is filed in twelve folders. See Description of Collection

Related Materials

Lehigh Student Handbooks J. Mark Frey and Chinese Students

YMCA at Lehigh 1894-1936
Eleanor Nothelfer
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Lehigh University Special Collections Repository

Lehigh University
Linderman Library
30 Library Drive
Bethlehem PA 18045 USA
610-758-6091 (Fax)