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318 Elmer L. Andersen Library, University of Minnesota, 222 21st Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55455

An Inventory of Its Records

Historical Sketch | Contents Summary/Organization | Administrative/Access Info | Contents Details | Other Finding Aids | Indexed Terms/Access Points


Creator: Young Men's Christian Association of the City of New York. Bowery Branch.
Title: Bowery YMCA records.
Date: 1876-1946 (bulk 1930-1946).
Collection Number: Y.GNY.2
Abstract: Collected records of the Bowery Branch of the New York YMCA, from its early history to its merger with the YMCA Vocational Service Center in 1945.
Quantity: 5.2 cu. ft. (14 boxes).
Location: See Detailed Description section for box listing.


Organized in 1872, the Bowery Branch, also known as the East Third Street Branch, had an unbroken period of service for the unemployed and homeless for 75 years. The Bowery, a riverfront neighborhood on Manhattan's Lower East Side, was burdened with a lot of poverty, prostitution, gambling, drug and alcohol abuse in its crowded docks and streets. Morris K. Jessup, president of the New York City YMCA, saw a need for the Y’s services in the troubled area and took a personal interest in the creation of the Bowery YMCA. In 1872 the YMCA opened its first location in a small building that formerly housed a saloon and gambling hall. The original location offered a reading room, religious services, and modest entertainment alternatives to the activity outside its doors.

The original plan was not for full-scale relief; instead the plan was to follow the earlier Ys’ examples with a small reading room, religious services, and the occasional musical performance. The economic depression of 1873 changed these plans and the Bowery Branch saw tremendous growth in its facilities and the services it offered over the next several decades.

Early on the branch experimented with providing meals for free or nearly free. The experiment was so successful that it became a permanent feature of the Bowery’s services. The innovation continued with opening of dormitories. The Bowery offered the first bed service of any kind in New York’s YMCA. These short term housing programs would go on to from a cornerstone piece of the New York Y’s services.

The years following the Great War were challenging ones for the two Associations in New York. The stock market crash and ensuing Great Depression brought misery on a grand scale to the city. Prayer revivals were no longer panaceas for New Yorkers’ pain, as they had been during hard economic times of the nineteenth century. By 1931, city churches were increasingly turning to the Bowery YMCA to handle their share of relief for homeless men. That year the Branch served 1,345,000 meals in its restaurants and provided 144,540 lodging nights. The Bowery Y was not just giving handouts, however; it managed to secure jobs for more than 1,500 men.

For many years the Bowery YMCA had been an important charity in New York. Indeed, it was deemed the “Ritz-Carlton of lodging houses.” But changes brought about by the New Deal undercut and even supplanted its mission. Having lost business in its restaurant and 5-cent cafeteria to government food programs, the Branch was running a $75,000 annual deficit by 1938. Its room rentals were also declining, a result of lower demand on the now less densely populated Lower East Side. The public had grown less inclined to support its mission-style services for the poor, preferring to fund hospitals and medical services and advanced education. “Nobody likes to pay for a dead horse,” a Branch memo noted.

The Bowery Branch revived somewhat during the war years. In 1940 its Penny Cafeteria, opened with help from the New York Community Trust, served more than 9,000 meals in its first week, and nearly 50,000 the first month. After World War II, the branch merged with the newly opened Vocational Services Branch on East 40th Street. The Third Street building was sold to the City of New York in 1947, and continued as a major center for homeless men. The Vocational Services Branch continued many services formerly rendered at "Old Bowery."

Bayless, Pamela. The YMCA at 150: A History of the YMCA of Greater New York, 1852-2002. New York: YMCA of Greater New York, 2002.

Donoghue, T. 1951. An Event on Mercer Street.


The records consist of the Board of Managers minutes (1880-1923), board member biographies, development and fundraising information, including specific donor information, materials relating to the Penny and Five Cent Cafeterias, Studies and Reports on the Branch's programs, and materials regarding the merger with the Vocational Service Center.

Also included is historical information, general programming materials, and facilities information.


These documents are organized into the following series:
Board of Managers.
History and General.
Programs and Services.
Human Resources/Personnel.
Studies and Reports.
Buildings and Facilities.
Merger with Vocational Service Center.


Use of Materials:
This collection is protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright, ownership, and to obtain all the necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials.
Preferred Citation:
[Indicate the cited item and/or series here]. Bowery YMCA Records. Kautz Family YMCA Archives. University of Minnesota.
See the Chicago Manual of Style for additional examples.
Processing Information:
Processed by: Todd S. Mahon, June, 2004.
Catalog Record ID number: 4509672


The following section contains a detailed list of the materials in the collection. To request materials, please note the corresponding box number.

Board of Managers

Box 4 Board of Managers minutes, 1880-1923. 4 bound volumes.
Box 12 By Laws: Bowery Branch, 1931, 1939. 2 folders.
Committee of Management, 1902.
Board of Managers: Report on Re-Study of the Purpose, Activities and Needs, 1935-1937.
Annual Reports, 1909, 1910, 1912-1914.
Board of Managers: Officers, 1872-1941.
Box 13 Board Members, 1926-1946:
Prospective Board Members, 1926-1943.
Maj. Cornelius R. Agnew, Jr., 1945.
Earle Bailie, 1934-1940.
George C. Barclay, 1936-1945.
S. Winston Childs, Jr., 1934-1945.
Frank Connor, 1945.
Richard P. Crenshaw, Jr., 1934-1941.
Joseph C. Day, Jr., 1938-1944.
Cleveland A. Dunn, 1937-1947.
Clarence A. Earl, 1937-1946.
Homer Folks, 1936.
Harrison Fuller, 1940.
Gaylord M. Hayes, 1938-1941.
Charles A. Howard, Jr., 1938-1942.
Sinclair Hutch, 1941-1944.
Darwin P. Kingsley, Jr., 1934, 1944.
Howard S. Kniffin, 1934.
Roy E. Larsen, 1934-1946.
James W. Lee, 1934-1942.
Herbert Lloyd, 1937-1942.
Richard W. Lawrence, 1940.
Henry J. Mali, 1937-1946.
Carlyle E. Maw, 1937-1946.
Dr. Seth M. Milliken, 1935-1945.
Maurice T. Moore, 1941-1945.
Gerald H. Pagenstecher, 1941-1944.
Harrington Putnam, 1937-1941.
Ewing W. Reilly, 1941-1943.
David Scribner, 1936-1942.
Charles E. Stillman, 1936-1937.
Joseph S. Stout, Jr., 1941-1942.
Frank M. Tolten, 1945.
J. Frederick Talcott, 1934-1944.
Alanson W. Willcox, 1934-1946.
Joseph Van Vleck, Jr., 1935-1943.
Henry P. Van Dusen, 1934-1945. 2 folders.

History and General

Box 9 Clippings and articles, various years.
60th anniversary, 1932.
Box 10 Clippings from Association Notes re Bowery Branch, 1911-1917.
Box 11 Clippings and Speech Materials, 1929-1936.
Speech Material - Elmer Galloway. 1930s.
Brochures, 1916-1925.
General Speech Materials, 1920-1939. 3 folders.
General Clippings. 1 folder.
Box 12 Historical Pamphlets.
Brochure: "50 Years at the Bowery Branch of the YMCA," 1915.
50th Anniversary, 1922.
"A Review of Early Relief by the New York City YMCA" by William Jones, 1932.
General history, 1940.
Galleys for 60 Years on the Bowery, 1932.
Memorabilia, misc. brochures, 1930s.
Name Change to East Third Street Branch, 1942.


Box 6 Development and Fundraising:
Estate Conservation Gift Plan, 1938.
Addison Allen, 1940.
Blue Hill Foundation Trust, 1942-1943.
Helen S. Clarkson, 1928-1939.
Mrs. S. Warner Forbes, 1936-1938.
William A. Hines, 1944.
John C. Juhring, 1932.
Catherine Murray, 1941-1943.
Johannes Meyer, 1942-1943.
Martin S. Paine, 1942.
Charles E. Quincey, 1924-1942.
Quincey Estate, 1925-1934.
Francis Robert Schnell, 1942.
Joshua Thompson, (Albert B. Cole, executor), 1937. 2 folders.
Darella Mills Foundation, 1937-1946.
Dunn Plaque, 1938-1939.
Greater New York Fund Inc., Grant, 1940-1943.
Kresege Foundation Appeal, 1940-1941.
Board of Mangers Memorials, 1933.
Bequests, Trusts and Certain Gifts to the YMCA, 1888-1939.
Contributions Study (Board, Staff, Mail and Multiples), 1934-1938, 1941.
"They Called it a 'One-Way Street,'" 1933.
"The Homeless and Friendless Man... Where Shall He Go?", c. 1917.
Fund Appeals:
Box 10 Radio Appeal, 1941.
Mail Appeal: "Lend Lease at Home, too!," 1941.
Mail Appeal: Christmas, 1941.
Mail Appeal: Stuart/ Blitz proof, 1942. 3 folders.
Mail Appeal: Pratt, 1942. 3 folders.
Mail Appeal: Galloway.
Mail Appeal: Wealthy Widow and Hotel Seymour Guests, 1942. 2 folders.
Sample appeal letters, 1940s.
Thanksgiving Appeal.
Service Flag.
Mail Appeal: "Lend Tools to Us!," 1941.
Box 16 Mail appeal, 1934.
Special Board Prospects - Letters sent, 1934.
Follow-Up, 1938. 2 folders.
Cultivation letter (fund raising), 1938.
Follow-up (Christmas fund raising), 1938.
Box 10 Budget, 1942.

Programs and Services

Penny Cafeteria and Five Cent Cafeteria:
Box 8 Penny Cafeteria: New York Community Trust, correspondence, 1939-1946. 2 folders.
Five Cent Cafeteria: Renovations, 1940.
Five Cent Cafeteria: New Counter, 1940.
Five Cent Cafeteria: Food, menus, specials, etc., 1940.
Box 10 Brochures, various years. 5 folders.
Box 11 Publicity Radio Scripts, 1930s.
Publicity Statements and Releases regarding the work of the branch, 1930s. 2 folders.
Brochures, 1916-1925.
Box 12 The Objective of the Bowery Branch and a Guide for Secretaries in Referring Men Who Could Benefit By Its Means, 1936.
Annual Dinners, 1922, 1933, 1934.

Human Resources/Personnel

Elmer Galloway Materials:
Elmer Galloway was the Executive Director of the Bowery Branch in the 1940s. Earlier in his careers he served as the Industrial Secretary for the New York State Committee and traveled to Italy following World War I in order to study labor in that country.
Box 7 Italian Branch brochure, 1883.
Woodbridge Bowery Branch Farm, 1902, 1943.
Travel Notebook: Elmer Galloway, Industrial Secretary, NY State Committee; 1919.
Publications: "Corriere Della YMCA" (The official organ of the YMCA in Italy), 1919.
Clippings re post-war Italy, 1919.
"Report of Investigation into Possible Permanent Service of the Young Men's Christian Association among the Industrial Workers of Italy," 1919.
Box 12 Wilson Morrison retirement, 1939.
Box 15 Losses - safe deposit box (theft case involving George Boal, desk clerk), 1945.
Larceny case against Thomas Kane, desk clerk. 1 folder.
Severance and vacation, 1946-1947.
Personnel - inactive, 1927-1942. 2 folders.
Emergency Work Bureau (correspondence, clients), 1932-1940. 2 folders.
"Study of the organizational structure, administrative pattern, and the functioning of professional personnel policies and practices of the Young Men's Christian Association of the City of New York," c. 1946.
Employees - inactive (A-F), 1930s-1940s. 2 folders.
Box 17 National Youth Administration Personnel Records, 1930s-1940s.
Employees - inactive (G-Z), 1930s-1940s. 4 folders.

Studies and Reports

Box 5 Employment Service in the YMCA of NYC: A Study of its Organization and Operation," by L.A. Emerson for the Special Committee on Employment, 1930.
Selected Tables from the Survey of the YMCA of NY, 1944.
500 Men Study (tally sheets, background materials, appendix), 1927-1942.
Recent Trends at Bowery Branch, 1936.
Bowery Foundation, Inc., 1929.
Extracts from "Survey of the Member Agencies of the Section of Care of Unattached and Homeless of the Welfare Council of New York City, October 1, 1937" 1937.
Proposal for Bowery Branch Annex, 1935-1942.
Sample Cases, 1929, 1933.
Age Study of Civilian Residents, 1939-1944.
Study of Membership as of October 29, 1929.
Survey of Relief (credit) Cases, 1927-1936.
Recent Trends and The Current Situation, 1935.
Some Credit Relief Men Now Being Served, 1944.
Twenty Years Study, 1924-1943.
Unit Cost Study, 1938.
Box 9 Housing the Homeless information, 1930/31.
Christian Objectives Appraisal, 1938.
Credit Membership Study, 1932.
Membership Study, 1924.
Homeless Men's Study, 1930/31.
Remedial and Preventive Work Study, 1939.
Special Cases, 1934-1937.
Study of Problems Arising as a result of Discontinuation of Relief for Transients, 1935-1936.
Credit Study - Employment Department, 1917, 1925.
Secretarial Staff Workload Study, 1929, 1934-1936.
Miscellaneous Statements and Studies, 1930s.
Survey of Relief Cases, 1927-1934.
Box 12 A Brief Survey of the Bowery Branch by Arthur L. Swift, Jr.; 1929.
Relief Services of the NY City YMCA, 1852-1872. From William J. Jones, Guidance Secretary, 1932.
Recent Trends and The Current Situation, 1935.
Speakeasies and Speakeasy Substitutes, 1931.
Mr. Zero/ Urbain Ledoux.
Rule and Pencil Club (engineering club), 1936.
Scholarship Plan for NYA Workers.
"Immediate and Postwar Considerations Affecting the East 3rd St. YMCA," by John N. McVeigh, 1944.
Eugene B. Willard Series, "In the Depths of the Social Jungle," 1953.
Homeless and Transient Plans - City Wide, 1934.

Building and Facilities

Box 7 Architectural drawings, blue prints, and floor plans, 1923.
Box 12 Cornerstone Laying: 8 E. 3rd Street, 1915.
Dedication of Bowery Branch Building (E. 3rd St.), 1915.

Merger with Vocational Service Center

Box 14 Review of the Vocational Services Program by the City Program Committee and VSC Board of Managers, 1948.
City-Wide Planning Board (with 1926 Survey Summary and 1942 Program Review, 1943.
Planning Committee (early days of the Vocational Service Center), 1943-1949.
Committee on 1945 Survey Recommendations and merger with E. 3rd St., 1945.
Setting Up the Vocational Services Center - a report, 1944.
Upgrade Recommendations and Steps Leading to Bowery/VSC, 1945-1946.
East Third Street Closing; Merger VSC and East 3rd Street Branch, 1945-1947. 2 folders.
Inventory - East Third Street Branch, 1946.
Savings and Security relating to Closing and merger, 1947.


Vocational Service Center (not yet available).


This collection is indexed under the following headings in the catalog of the University of Minnesota Libraries. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons or places should search the catalog using these headings.
Homeless persons -- Services for.
Vocational training centers.
Young Men's Christian associations -- Administration.
Young Men's Christian associations -- Employees.
Young Men's Christian associations -- New York (State) -- New York.
New York (N.Y.).
Galloway, Elmer.
Young Men's Christian Association of the City of New York. Bowery Branch.
Young Men's Christian Association of the City of New York. Vocational Service Center.
Types of Documents: