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Springfield YMCA Collection

Identifier: MS-250

Scope and Content

The Springfield Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) Collection chronicles the history of the YMCA in Springfield, Clark County, Ohio, from 1854 to 1979. The significance of this collection lies in the variety of subjects covered in this record of the Y's history in Springfield. These subjects include: religion, war work related to World War I and II, race relations, funding strategies,camping programs, and clubs.

SERIES I SUBJECT FILES This series is the largest series in the Springfield YMCA Collection. It consists of the subject files or working files of the Y's administrative office and covers the years 1894 - 1971. These files are arranged by subject and then chronologically within each subject.They contain correspondence, annual reports, budgets, newsletters,programs and activity reports, fund raising plans, Board of Directors minutes and reports, minutes from Y clubs, historical files containing the Y's constitution, correspondence with men in the military during WWII, financial statements, membership campaign materials and information on Camp Evergreen. There is also information on the National Council of YMCA's and the Ohio Area Council. Of special interest are records related to the establishment of the Center Street YMCA for blacks.

SERIES II PHOTOGRAPHS This series contains photographs dating from ca. 1900 through 1978. The majority of these photos are of YMCA athletic events. There are also photos of camping programs, board members and staff, special events and Y classes.

SERIES III OVERSIZE ITEMS This series consists of a photo album, dated 1892 - 1920, a Board of Directors minute book from 1908 - 1934, a Visitors' Register, reports,and large photographs. The materials in this series cover the years 1892 - 1934.

SERIES IV TIME CAPSULE This series contains all of those items found in the YMCA Time Capsule unearthed in 1989 when the Limestone Street YMCA building was to be torn down and the Y moved into new quarters. Items include the constitution, photographs, memorabilia, board minutes, news clippings,brochures about various Y programs, and the programs for the laying of the cornerstone of the 1900 and 1939 buildings. The earliest item dates to 1857.

SERIES V NEWS CLIPPINGS/SCRAPBOOKS This series consists of scrapbooks of news clippings on a variety of YMCA people and events through the years. These scrapbooks date from1934 to 1953. They are arranged chronologically. The scrapbooks were photocopied onto acid free paper due to the deteriorating condition of the originals.

SERIES VI LEDGERS Subseries A Membership Records This subseries contains membership registers from 1890-1896 and 1942 - 1943.

Subseries B Clubs This series consists of minutes and member lists from a variety of YMCA clubs dating from 1927 to 1950. Clubs include Hi-Y, MacGilvray Club, Y-Keels, Y-Eagles, V.O.S. (Visitation of the Sick) and the Junior Meliorists.

Subseries C Camp Evergreen The three volumes in this subseries consist of records from the YMCA Camp Evergreen. They date from 1932 to 1952 and include names of campers, counselors, activities, contests and winners.

Subseries D Miscellaneous These ledgers cover a wide variety of topics such as gifts and donations, athletics and sports records, visitors' register and a publication entitled "Men of Springfield." These ledgers cover the dates 1888 - 1957.

SERIES VII BLUEPRINTS This series consists of plans for the YMCA building constructed in 1899. The building was designed by Vernon Redding, an architect from Mansfield, Ohio. These blueprints are located in the oversize files, Location 79, File 1.


  • Creation: 1854-1979

Restrictions on Access

There are no restrictions on accessing materials in this collection.

Restrictions on Use

Copyright restrictions may apply. Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

History of Springfield Young Men's Christian Association

The Springfield, Ohio, Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) was organized on August 3, 1854, as a result of the concern of ministers and churches for the welfare of the young men of Springfield. The object of the organization was to be the religious, moral and intellectual improvement of young men. Edward Marcus Doty served as the Y's first president. Meetings were conducted in various churches. By 1856, there were eighty members. A library had been established, lecture courses begun, gospel teams formed and goods were being distributed to the needy.

The Civil War depleted the YMCA of much of its membership, so much so that the Y closed in early 1865 when Lincoln issued the last call for men. The library was placed in the custody of the Women's Library Association.

The YMCA began meeting again in the Spring of 1867. A fund raising campaign was begun and Dr. Isaac Kay was elected president. Library work resumed, prayer meetings and lectures were held and an evangelistic program called the "Flying Artillery Squad" was established. Meetings were held in various businesses downtown until1871 when attendance at lectures decreased and financial problems forced the Y to move into the rear of a store. A free public library was established in Springfield in 1872. This became the Warder Public Library. The YMCA sold its books to the library soon after it was established. The YMCA also decided not to attempt any projects requiring financial support.

The minutes of the Y during the 1870's record little activity until March 16, 1878, when a new constitution was written. New programs were being introduced at the national level, such as education,athletics, camping, boys' work, social participation, volunteer work and the training of Christian leaders. While some local YMCA leaders supported these innovations, most of the members did not.

New leadership in the late 1880's led to another new constitution in December of 1887. William J. Fraser became General Secretary and a Board of Directors was established. Fraser supported the new national programs and established committees to further the work of the Y. A fund raising campaign was begun to purchase property and construct a gymnasium. When this drive failed, the Y operated out of rooms at the courthouse. A physical director was hired and a gym was outfitted in the courthouse basement. A Boys' Class was begun as well as classes in vocal music and mechanical drawing. Fraser was responsible for beginning a modern Y program in Springfield.

The Board of Directors introduced the idea of a permanent building for the Y. In 1888, they leased the B.H. Warder property with the hope of raising funds for a new building in the future. Membership and programs were growing again.

Harry Hodge, Physical Director, pioneered the first outdoor athletics and recreation program in Springfield. The first organized Athletic Field Meet was sponsored by the YMCA in 1890. The Dayton,Springfield and Xenia Y's participated in activities which included running, jumping and cycling.

The Y moved to the King-Gotwald Building in the Spring of 1891.New quarters included a reading room, gymnasium, club rooms and dining room. In September of 1892, basketball equipment was purchased just six months after James Naismith invented the game. Basketball was a big success and exhibition games were arranged with the Dayton Y.Volleyball was introduced to the Springfield Y in 1895 and by 1903,tournaments were annual events. A YMCA football team was organized and played the Dayton "Juniors" in November of 1903.

The YMCA still considered its chief work to be the religious education of the young men of Springfield. Religious meetings were held three evenings a week and on Sunday afternoons. Educational work continued in the form of technical training classes.

The Y experienced dramatic growth during the 1890's and attracted strong leadership from many influential people in Springfield.Committees included: Executive, Rooms and Library, Finance, Gymnasium,Star Course, Educational, Membership, Reception, Young Men's Meeting,Saturday Bible Class, Bible Training Class, Visitation of the Sick,Extension Fund, Commercial Travelers, Junior Week and Jail Meeting.Education classes included: mechanical drawing, advanced architectural drawing, manual training, pattern making, black smithing and machine work, electricity, bookkeeping, commercial arithmetic, mandolin and guitar and orchestra music. Land was secured for an athletic park complete with ball diamonds and tennis courts. The Springfield Y was one of the first YMCA's in Ohio to serve women by holding a Women's Class in physical education. The Y also published a small bulletin entitled "YMCA Month" and over eighteen thousand persons participated in a variety of Y programs in 1894.

During the 1890's a group of colored men headed by George W.Elliott began a Young Men's Reading Club. The purpose of the club was the moral, cultural and spiritual advancement of young colored men.The club was successful in attracting new members and soon Elliott encouraged the formation of a Colored Young Men's Christian Association. The Board of the Y assisted in its formation.

The late 1890's brought the beginning of Army YMCA work as well as noon Bible classes in local industries. A building fund secretary was hired. A successful fund raising campaign resulted in the construction of the first new Springfield YMCA building. Dedicated on September 17, 1901, the building was partially destroyed by fire one month later. The early years of the new century were difficult ones as the Y tried to raise funds to continue programs and reconstruct and renovate their building. The building was open again by 1904 with a pool and gymnasium. A few new programs were introduced, such as the Y Camera Club, Boys Work, Campers and Outers Club and Inquiry Club. A newspaper was published entitled "Men of Springfield." Basketball leagues and gymnasium classes were begun and a new physical director initiated the first organized athletic leagues in the high schools.The first Boys Camp was held in 1907. Church leagues and a first aid class followed. In 1912, a Farm Extension Program was inaugurated. The following year an automobile trade school was started. These years saw many staff changes through resignations. The Y also worked to reduce its indebtedness.

The year 1911 saw an expanded educational program. By 1914, member programs grew, staff training and experience improved, athletics and recreation in the school system and community increased and Boy Scout Troops were organized through the Y. The Y established an industrial department and service committees were organized within factories.There was a City-Wide Industrial Council which organized night school classes, athletic leagues and noontime meetings on religious topics,education, health and hygiene.

John L. Dorst, who had become General Secretary in 1911, saw the need to build a new financial base and worked to cultivate relationships with potential donors. A campaign to raise money for anew Y building began in 1917, but was called off with the advent of World War I. During the war, the YMCA gym was used as an examining center for draftees and often contingents of men were housed there.

In 1919, Mr. McGilvray, a Springfield businessman, donated four and a half acres to the Y for an athletic field. The field was developed for baseball, softball, tennis, horse shoes, and track. In December of 1922, a Foremen's Club was established for foremen and supervisors. The Springfield Foremen's Club was the beginning of what would be a National Foremen's Club.

In 1921, a Community Fund was established in Springfield. The Y hoped this would broaden support and stabilize its financial situation. The Y furnished top leadership to the Community Chest.Unfortunately, the chest had a negative effect. People who used to contribute directly to the Y now gave to the Chest, which in turn decided how much each agency got. The Chest determined budgets and the Y lost programs such as Industrial Work and Athletics. The Industrial Department closed in 1928 when local industries began supporting the Community Fund. The Y soon lost its identity as a religious organization. The YMCA began to suffer from lack of funds and the building deteriorated. The athletic field deteriorated with the lack of funds and staff to maintain it. A small staff and leadership were trying to keep in the Y program going. John L. Dorst retired in 1932 and the Community Chest cut the Y's budget by $7,000.00 in 1933.

YMCA officials decided to conduct a survey to determine its place in the community. The study revealed that the YMCA was a much needed and effective force in Springfield. Y officials recommended that the present building be rehabilitated and equipment upgraded. They also urged that plans for a new building be started. The report was made public and interest in the Y grew.

Laymen operated the Y between 1932 and 1934 until Walter V. Edwards became General Secretary. A the end of his first six months he had upgraded the morale of staff and members, initiated a rehabilitation program for the equipment, identified and implemented ways to improve and modernize the building and train staff and committees, had established new sources of income and adjusted salaries upwards.

Edwards assigned the rehabilitation of the building to the YMCA Building Bureau, a National Council department. The building was closed for renovation in 1934. Under Edwards, the Y met its national obligation, conducted a successful World Service Campaign, trained staff and rehabilitated the Center Street Y. College extension courses were begun in cooperation with Wittenberg College and an Adult Education Council was formed. Wallace Edwards became Secretary of the Men's Division in 1936.

The Board authorized the program and building committees to determine actual community needs. A campaign to raise money was approved in 1937. A new YMCA building was begun in 1938 and dedicated on October 8, 1939. Also in 1939, the Center Street Y became an official branch of the Springfield YMCA. Springfield then had a metropolitan Y consisting of two branches and a camp.

With the advent of World War II, the Y became a center for Civilian Defense Projects. It also lost many staff and members to the draft. In spite of this, the Y managed to burn the mortgage during the war years. At the end of the war, every professional who had previously served the Y and had gone to war, returned.

The Springfield YMCA had become well know around the United States. It had contributed many of its staff members to leadership positions. Early YMCA programs had grown into independent and vital agencies in Springfield. The Y Charity program had become the Social Service Bureau. The free library had become the Warder Public Library.The Y's prisoner visitation program was carried on by churches and church agencies. A new Center Street Branch building was dedicated in1951.

In 1954, the Y celebrated its centennial year. It reported 4,359members. Ted McMillen became General Secretary at Walter V. Edwards retirement. The Community Chest became the United Fund. In 1955, tennis and handball courts were erected at Camp Evergreen. YMCA programs continued to expand with the planning of a Northridge Branch in 1966. Eighty five acres were added to Camp Evergreen in 1971. By 1972, the Y consisted of the following branches: Camp Evergeen, Center Street,Central YMCA, Moorefield and Tecumseh. In 1980, the Y was reorganized.The Center Street Y became the Center Street Community Center. In 1981,the Y became the Springfield Family YMCA.


17 linear feet

Language of Materials



Records document the history of the YMCA in Springfield, Ohio, and include extensive subject files, photographs, clippings, ledgers, and blueprints of the YMCA building. Subject files contain a variety of materials including correspondence, annual reports, budgets, Board of Director's minutes, newsletters, programs, activity reports, and historical information. The significance of this collection lies in the variety of subjects covered These subjects include: religion, war work related to World War I and II, race relations, funding strategies, camping programs, and clubs.

Statement of Arrangement

The collection is arranged into seven series.

  1. Series I Subject Files
  2. Series II Photographs
  3. Series III Oversize Items
  4. Series IV Time Capsule
  5. Series V Newspaper Clippings/Scrapbooks
  6. Series VI Ledgers
  7. Subseries A: Membership Records
  8. Subseries B: Clubs
  9. Subseries C: Camp Evergreen
  10. Subseries D: Miscellaneous
  11. Series VII Blueprints

Acquisition Information

The collection was donated to SpecialCollections and Archives by Joseph C. Moorman, Director of the Springfield YMCA, and was accessioned November 13, 1989.

Separated Material

Some of the oversize materials and newspapers from the time capsule are located in a map case drawer (Location 30). Blueprints are located in map case, Location 79.

Processing Information

Processed by Dawne Dewey, October, 1994. Ledgers cleaned, boxed and wrapped by Samantha Green, November, 2014. Finding aid reformatted and updated by Toni Vanden Bos in February, 2015.

Guide to the Springfield YMCA Collection (MS-250)
Finding aid prepared by Dawne Dewey, 1994
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Revision Statements

  • February 2015: Addition of one receipt book cleaned and added to collection by Samantha Green. Finding aid updated by Toni Vanden Bos.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

Wright State University Libraries
Special Collections and Archives
3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy
Dayton OH 45435-0001 USA