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

YMCA OF GREATER NEW YORK SEAMEN'S HOUSE BRANCH:
An Inventory of Its Photographs


TABLE OF CONTENTS
Historical Sketch | Contents Summary/Organization | Administrative/Access Info | Contents Details | Related Materials | Indexed Terms/Access Points


OVERVIEW OF THE COLLECTION

Creator: YMCA of Greater New York. Seamen's House Branch
Title: Seamen's House YMCA photographs.
Date: 1920s-1960s.
Collection Number: Y.GNY.0011-1
Abstract: Photographs, primarily from the period 1930-1960, of the Bethelship Seamen's Branch YMCA in Brooklyn and the Seamen's House YMCA branch in Manhattan. .
Quantity: .25 cubic feet (1 box)
Location: See Detailed Description section for box listing.


HISTORY OF THE SEAMEN'S HOUSE YMCA

Founded in 1921 as the Merchant Seamen’s Branch, this operation was dedicated to providing services to the sailors and crews of the U.S. Merchant Marine. In 1931, a large building was constructed at 550 West 20th Street, and the Seamen’s House clientele became more international. By the 1950s, Seamen’s House had weathered World War II and an influx of Coast Guard sailors, and had merged the operations of the Seamen’s House with those of the American Seamen’s Friend Society and the Seamen’s Christian Association. All the services, such as the pool, movie screenings, and books from library, were free. The YMCA charged only for rooms and meals.

By the mid-1960s, a decline in merchant shipping and other social factors combined to reduce the need for special services for seamen. At the same time, the state of New York began inquiries about the 1931 building and its adjacent laundry. The financial situation of Seamen’s House, coupled with the apparent decline in the need for its special mission, encouraged the Board of Directors to sell the property, realizing $2 million from the state in February of 1967. Seamen’s House moved to West 34th Street, adjacent to the Sloane House YMCA branch

After the move a number of alternatives to providing services to seamen were explored, including merging with the British Merchant Navy Club, and offering non-residential services through the new Port of New York terminal building. By 1970, the possibility of moving to the McBurney branch, located at 215 West 23rd Street, was introduced. The branch began serving seamen out of a “mobile unit”, which visited ships in port. By 1972 Seamen’s House, now officially referred to as the International Seamen’s Center, had relocated its offices and some programming to the McBurney YMCA, with a increasing emphasis on mobile services and ship visits. In 1974, merger talks began in earnest, and the Seamen’s House YMCA was formally absorbed into the McBurney YMCA.

The Brooklyn Association also operated a branch for sailors that opened in 1918 in a converted church in the Red Hook section and moved next door into a new building in 1927. The new building was constructed with funds donated in 1919 by Mrs. James Harvey Williams as a memorial to her husband. Known as the Bethelship Seamen's Branch, it closed and was sold in 1948 because of changing demographics and shipping industry economics. A vestige of the mission to provide services to the men and boys of the sea remains in the Prospect Park branch’s Seafarer’s Safe House, a twelve-unit affordable residential program in Brooklyn for retired sailors.

(Information taken from The YMCA at 150: A History of the YMCA of Greater New York, 1852-2002 by Pamela Bayless, 2002; and from An Event on Mercer Street, by Terry Donoghue, 1951; and from History of the Brooklyn and Queens Young Men's Christian Association, 1853-1949 by E. Clark Worman, 1952; and the YMCA Seamen's House records.)



SCOPE AND CONTENTS OF THE COLLECTION

The collection contains primarily black and white photographs of interiors and exteriors scenes of the buildings occupied by the Bethelship Seamen's Branch in Brooklyn and the Seamen's House YMCA in Manhattan.



ORGANIZATION/ARRANGEMENT OF THE RECORDS

These documents are organized into the following sections:
Bethelship Seamen's Branch, Brooklyn
Seamen's House, New York


ADMINISTRATIVE INFORMATION

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].Seamen's House YMCA Photographs. YMCA of Greater New York. Kautz Family YMCA Archives. University of Minnesota.
See the Chicago Manual of Style for additional examples.
Processing Information:
Processed by: Louise Merriam, May 2008.
Catalog Record ID number: 5285134


DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE COLLECTION

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

Seamen's Branch, Brooklyn

Box 58 Painting of the Bethelship at dock, 1924.
Cornerstone ceremony, 1921.
Athletics, 1930s.
Interiors, 1920s-1940s.
Exteriors, 1920s-1940s.


Seamen's House, New York

Box 58 Interiors, 1940s-1960s. 4 folders.
Includes images of branch interior with and without people.
Exteriors, 1930s-1940s.
Ceremonies, 1950s-1960s.
Includes photos of branch executives and officers at athletic and other award ceremonies.
Athletics, 1950s.
Includes images of branch pool, men playing basketball.



RELATED MATERIALS

See also Seamen's House YMCA records, separately catalogued at the Kautz Family YMCA Archives.


INDEX TERMS

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.
Topics:
Sailors -- United States.
Young Men's Christian associations -- New York (State) -- New York.
Young Men's Christian associations -- Buildings.
Places:
Manhattan (New York, N.Y.).
Brooklyn (N.Y.).
Organizations:
YMCA of Greater New York. Seamen's House Branch.
Brooklyn and Queens Young Men’s Christian Association. Bethelship Seamen's Branch.
Types of Documents:
Photographs.
Occupations:
Sailors.