The records of the Young Men's and Young Women's Christian Associations of Oberlin College consist of annual reports, minutes, correspondence, scrapbooks, cloth maps, and printed materials documenting the organizations' governance and programs. The cloth maps (1863-96), which predate the 1881 formation of the YMCA, were given to the YMCA by an unknown donor. The earliest textual records are printed pamphlets (1885).
The collection has been divided into the following subgroups: I. YMCA Records; II. YWCA Records; and III. YM/YWCA Records. Within subgroups, records are arranged into the following series: Subgroup I: Series 1. Annual Reports, Series 2. Miscellaneous Administrative Files; Series 3. Scrapbooks; Series 4. YMCA Cloth Maps. Subgroup II: Series 1. Annual Report; Series 2. Miscellaneous Administrative Files; Series 3. Scrapbooks; Series 4. YWCA-Sponsored Programs. Subgroup III: Series 1. Administrative Files; Series 2. YM/YWCA Programs; Series 3. YM/YWCA Publications. Within subgroups, series are arranged alphabetically by type of material and thereunder chronologically.
YMCA administrative records are thin. No annual reports exist for the first two decades of the organization's history(1881-1902). The annual reports of the YMCA's General Secretary begin in 1902/03 with gaps from 1912-13 and 1917-40; reports resume in 1941/42 and continue through 1959/60. Reports for the years 1915-40 are available in the records of the Office of the Secretary (RG 5). Annual reports discuss staffing, the activities of the secretaries, and plans for the coming year. Other administrative documents include the minutes (1944, 1949-61) of the YMCA Advisory Board. There are no records for the other YMCA governing bodies, the Cabinet and the Executive Committee. Also lacking is complete correspondence from YMCA executive secretaries. What correspondence remains relates mainly to personnel searches (1945-61); correspondents include Elbridge P. Vance, Secretary of the Advisory Board; W. Robert Rankin, YMCA Executive Secretary (1945-51); Robert C. Johnson of the National Council of the YMCA; Provost Thurston E. Manning, Chairman of the YMCA Faculty Advisory Board; and Harvey Cox, Executive Secretary of the YMCA (1955-58). Information about the activities of the YMCA in 1924-27 and 1937-49 can be gleaned from the YMCA scrapbooks for these years.
YWCA administrative records are more complete than those of the YMCA. Files include annual reports (1894-1941) which include membership lists and committee reports. In addition this subgroup contains annual reports of YWCA officers including the General Secretary (1923/24-1928/29, 1933/34-1961/62), President (1941/42-1956/57) and the First Vice-President (1942/43-1951/52). (Missing annual reports after 1905 are available in the Records of the Office of the Secretary.) Of particular interest to researchers studying the organization and activities of the YWCA is a Historical Survey of the YWCA of Oberlin written by Barbara Shattuck in 1927/28. This survey describes the formation of the YWCA at Oberlin, the work of its committees and departments, and the reorganization that took place in 1916/17. Advisory Board Minutes exist for the period 1928/29-1943/44. Additional records document the functions of the governing Cabinet, Executive Committee, and Personnel Committee. Correspondence includes four letters (1904-06) from Florence Mary Fitch (1875-1959) attending YWCA conferences in Columbus, Ohio. Other correspondents include Y secretaries Elizabeth Blakesley (1944-55) and Marjorie Schreiber (1960-64). Scrapbooks from 1904 to 1949 illustrate the YWCA's activities through newspaper clippings, programs, other printed materials, and photographs. Later scrapbooks include material on joint YM/YWCA activities.
Records relating to the joint meetings and programs of the YM and YWCA include minutes of joint cabinet meetings (1953, 1955), joint program committee reports by the YM and YW secretaries (1956, 1959-62, n.d.), and reports of the Religious Interests Committee on YM and YWCA activities. These activities are documented in the files by brochures, programs, clippings, calendars of events, a photographs, and a scrapbook. Events recorded include the 50th and 60th anniversaries of the founding of the YWCA; the YM/YWCA-sponsored student protests in Cleveland over the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956, and various Y student conferences. A few items (1918-20), one in Chinese, relate to YMCA support for Oberlin's work in China's Shansi province. Also included are photographs relating to both organizations.
Subgroup I. YMCA Records, 1863-1969, n.d. (5.30 l.f.)
Series 1. Annual Reports, 1902-16, 1941-61 (0.2 l.f.)
Consists of incomplete sets of annual reports of the General Secretary (1902-1910, 1914-1916, 1941/42, and 1946-60) and of the Director of Religious Activities (1958-61).
Series 2. Miscellaneous Administrative Files, 1885-1969, n.d. (0.6 l.f.)
Includes an incomplete run of minutes of YMCA Advisory Board meetings; scant budgetary records; committee files; publications; and correspondence relating mainly to the Advisory Board's searches in 1945 and 1955 for an Executive Secretary. Files are arranged alphabetically by type of material.
Series 3. Scrapbooks, 1924-27, 1937-49 (6 scrapbooks)
Consists of scrapbooks containing newspaper clippings, programs, and other printed material related to YMCA activities.
Series 4. YMCA Cloth Maps, 1863-96, n.d. (2.50 l.f.)
Contains eighteen cloth maps of varying sizes of countries and regions in which Christian missions were established. Most were made for the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. Their original order was maintained.
Subgroup II. YWCA Records, 1894-1967, n.d. (7.0 l.f.)
Series 1. Annual Reports, 1894-1962 (2.4 l.f.)
Consists of handwritten and typed annual reports (1894-1941), including membership and committee reports. Also contains annual reports of the General Secretary (1923/24-1961/62), President (1941/42-1956/57), and First Vice President (1942/43-1951/52).
Series 2. Miscellaneous Administrative Files, 1894-1964 (1.2 l.f.)
Includes minutes of Advisory Board, Cabinet, Executive Committee, and other committee meetings; YWCA constitutions (1927-61); and correspondence, including four letters (1904-06) from Professor Florence M. Fitch (1875-1959), the Oberlin YWCA's first President (1896-97). Financial records include budget statements (1936-57), papers relating to the Geneva Conference fund (1938), and treasurer's reports (1940-43). Also found here is a Historical Survey of the YWCA of Oberlin from 1927/28. Files are arranged alphabetically by type of material.
Series 3. Scrapbooks, 1904-49 (18 scrapbooks)
Consists of scrapbooks containing newspaper clippings, programs, and photographs of YWCA activities.
Series 4. YWCA-Sponsored Programs, 1896, 1905-67, n.d. (0.4 l.f.)
Includes printed materials, clippings, programs, and brochures relating to YWCA retreats, conferences, social events, and anniversary celebrations. Records are arranged alphabetically by type of material.
Subgroup III. Joint YM/YWCA Records, 1927-71 (1.0 l.f.)
Series 1. Administrative Files, 1952-63 (0.2 l.f.)
Consists of procedural handbooks for the YM/YW Cabinet, YM/YW personnel policies, evaluations by students of the joint YM/YW publication, Archways, joint program reports issued by the YW and YM Executive Secretaries, and minutes of joint cabinet and executive meetings. Records are arranged alphabetically by type of material.
Series 2. YM/YWCA Programs, 1941-71, n.d. (0.4 l.f.)
Includes chapel talks, clippings, worship bulletins, and instructional materials relating to the tutorial program sponsored by the Y organizations. Also filed here are memoranda, publicity, and newspaper accounts of the protests in Cleveland arranged by the Y in response to the Soviet invasion of Hungary (1956). Records are arranged alphabetically by type of materials.
Series 3. YM/YWCA Publications, 1920-64 (0.4 l.f.)
Filed here are samples of the publications issued jointly by the YM and YWCA of Oberlin. Publications are alphabetically arranged by title.
Series 4. Photographs, 1908-09, n.d. (0.2 l.f.)
Photographs of both organizations. Photos chronicle retreats, activities and cabinet members of both organizations.