Young Men's Christian Association - Wabash Avenue records




University of Illinois at Chicago, Special Collections and University Archives Department at the Richard J. Daley Library


4.25 Linear feet



Historical note

The YMCA at 3763 S. Wabash Avenue was designed by Robert C. Berlin and financed primarily by Julius Rosenwald, Chairman of Sears, Roebuck, and Company, who added his funds to those raised by community residents. Completed in 1913, the facility provided housing, education, and vocational training for African Americans emigrating from the South who sought new opportunities in Chicago's growing industrial and commercial enterprises. The YMCA at Wabash Avenue in Chicago thrived as a center of African-American culture, partly due to a notable lack of other alternatives. Carter G. Woodson stayed at the Wabash Avenue YMCA during visits to Chicago. Dr. Woodson's experiences at the Y and in the surrounding Bronzeville neighborhood inspired him to create the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in 1915. Woodson believed that education and increasing social and professional contacts among blacks and whites could reduce racism and he promoted the organized study of African-American history partly for that purpose. Woodson would later promote the first Negro History Week in Washington, D.C., in 1926, forerunner of Black History Month. The Bronzeville neighborhood declined during the late sixties and seventies like many other inner city neighborhoods across the country, and the Wabash Avenue YMCA was forced to close during the 1970s.

Scope and Contents note

These Records also include a small number of negatives, some of which do not have corresponding prints.

Arrangement note

The YMCA - Wabash Records are organized into four series: I. General, II. Board of Directors - Minutes and Reports, III. Photographs, IV. Contents of Scrapbook. Series I includes correspondence, memoranda, notes, pamphlets, brochures, schedules, program plans, budget requests, reports, minutes, clippings, forms, lists of officers, YMCA conference materials, administrative forms, newsletters, and issues of trade publications such as Institutional Feeding and Housing. Memoranda, correspondence, programs, newsletters, and reports from the Welfare Council of Metropolitan Chicago and other affiliated organizations are also held in this series. Series II consists of minutes and reports of the Board of Directors of YMCA at Wabash Avenue. These materials are copies and are held in sequential order. Some original minutes and reports are held in Series I, General. Series III are photographs showing the personnel, patrons, and activities of the YMCA from 1917 to 1958. Series IV consists of the contents of a disassembled scrapbook.

Processing Information note

This collection was surveyed as part of the Black Metropolis Research Consortium's Survey Initiative on 2009 November 30 by Lisa Calahan, Andrew Steadham, and Lauren Kalal.

Related Archival Materials note

Within this repository: Young Men's Christian Association - Duncan Maxwell records.

Outside of this repository: YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago Collection of Visual Materials - Chicago History Museum, YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago records - Chicago History Museum.