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

An Inventory of its Photographs

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


Creator: YMCA of Greater New York. McBurney Branch
Title: McBurney YMCA photographs
Date: 1870s-1970s (bulk 1880-1950)
Collection Number: Y.GNY.0013-1
Abstract: Black and white photographs of the McBurney Branch of the YMCA of Greater New York. Subjects include buildings, programs and activities. The collection is particularly rich in photos from the period before 1900.
Quantity: .75 cubic feet (2 boxes)
Location: See Detailed Description section for box listing.


The first permanent home of the McBurney Branch of the New York YMCA began as the headquarters of the New York association in 1869, a role it played until 1887. The French Renaissance building, designed by notable New York architect James Renwick, Jr., and renamed the 23rd Street YMCA in 1887, was the first purpose-built YMCA building in the US. In 1904 the 23rd Street “Y” moved west to 7th Avenue, into a state-of-the art building with a roof garden, a cork running track, and a marble lined swimming pool; it was thought to be the finest YMCA building in the United States and cost $850,000. In 1943 the branch was renamed in honor of Robert Ross McBurney, an Irish immigrant who rose from librarian of the New York association in 1862 to chief executive in 1883, a post he held until his death in 1898. He is known as the first paid secretary of the YMCA.

The McBurney branch operated or participated in a number of educational efforts, including Chelsea School, Eastern Association School, various night schools, New York Institute of Accountancy, Walter Hervey Junior College and a Trade and Technical School. After the end of World War II, the YMCA in New York City determined that it would focus on the college prep school adjacent to the West Side YMCA, the McBurney School, and most of the other educational efforts were disbanded; the Walter Hervey Junior College closed in 1957.

(Information taken from The YMCA at 150: A History of the YMCA of Greater New York 1852-2002, by Pamela Bayless (2002) and from the collection)


The McBurney YMCA photograph collection includes many images created before 1900 when the branch operated from the 1869 building at Fourth Avenue and 23rd Street. Included in the early photos are images of the building exterior and interior, including photographs of the gymnasium, parlor, reading room and library, auditorium and others, including one image labeled, "Early action picture". Later photos include many images of the facade of the 1904 building at 23rd Street and Seventh Avenue that replaced the 1869 structure. In addition, the collection includes photographs illustrating dormitory life and materials related to the YMCA Trade and Technical School and the Walter Hervey Junior College.


These documents are organized into the following sections:
Programs and activities.


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]. McBurney 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, March 2009.
Catalog Record ID number: 5410542


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


Box 53 Interiors 1940s. 2 folders.
Includes images of dormitory rooms, counseling, cultural entertainment, lobby scenes, cafeteria staff, groups and meetings, dances, camera club.
Exteriors, 1920 -1980.
Images of the front of the 1904 building.
Box 60 Interiors, 1890s-1920s. 8 folders.
Includes images of gymnasium, drawing class, French class, Association Hall, McBurney Room, employment bureau, reception room and business office, parlor, reading room, Sunday tea, boys' parlor.
Exteriors, 1869-1900.
Photographs, trade cards and stereopticons depicting facade of 1869 building at 4th Avenue and 23rd Street.

Programs and activities

Box 53 Outside activities, 1920s, 1950s, 1970s. 2 folders.
Includes camp photo, float advertising camps and marathon runner.
Inside activities, 1920s-1970s. 3 folders.
Includes images of McBurney 125th birthday cake, barber shop, Buddy Camp boys, YMCA band, singing, playing cards, photo lecture, teen dance, servicemen playing checkers, Hawaiian guitars, Italian dancers, Mexican dancing, arts and crafts.
People, 1940s, 1987.
Includes photos of young adults and teens, posed images of young couple, staff meeting (1942), Board of Managers meeting (1942), and image of boy from the cover of Current Support campaign brochure (1987).
Box 60 People, 1890, 1908, 1930s. 3 folders.
Includes group photos of Old Timers' Reunion Dinner, evening school students and dormitory men. Also includes Annual Report for 1890 with images of bookkeeping class, evening exercises and boys' parlor.
Reading room and library, 1870s-1890s.
Classes and lectures, 1880s.
Bible study, art class, business class, Spanish class, debate: "Resolved, that the Government be responsible for the late Indian trouble".


Box 53 Basketball, 1958.
Weight lifting, 1950s.
Miscellaneous sports, 1890s-1950s. 2 folders.
Includes images of trampoline, weightlifting, students, gymnastics, gold-painted swim team, bowling, ping-pong, fencing, jogging and rowing.
Aquatics, 1920s-1940s.2 folders.
Includes photo of swim team (1920s), man and woman in pool, contact sheets of swimmer in pool.
Box 60 Bowling, 1880s.


Box 53 Walter Hervey Junior College, 1940s-1960s. 3 folders.
Also includes images of McBurney School and West Side YMCA.
YMCA Trade and Technical School, 1940s-1950s.
Images of school exterior, auto mechanics, boiler repair, radio repair.


See also the McBurney YMCA Records, separately cataloged in the Kautz Family YMCA Archives >>Go to the inventory.


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.
Young Men's Christian associations -- New York (State) -- New York.
Young Men's Christian associations -- Buildings.
Trade schools -- New York (State) -- New York.
New York (N.Y.)
Chelsea (Manhattan, New York, N.Y.)
YMCA of Greater New York. McBurney Branch.
Young Men’s Christian Association of the City of New York. Twenty-third Street Branch
Walter Hervey Junior College (New York, N.Y.).
Types of Documents: