YMCA Archives Logo
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 | Related Materials | Indexed Terms/Access Points


Creator: YMCA of Greater New York. Governors Island Branch.
Title: Governors Island (Army / Fort Jay) YMCA records.
Date: 1923-1965 (bulk 1946-1963)
Collection Number: Y.GNY.032
Abstract: Collected correspondence, minutes, brochures and historical material from the Governors Island YMCA..
Quantity: .3 cubic feet (2 boxes).
Location: See Detailed Description section for box listing.


The Governors Island branch of the YMCA of Greater New York, is also known as the Army branch or the Fort Jay branch. It was established in 1899 during the Spanish-American War as the Army Branch, and was part of a directive that authorized the War and Navy Departments to license the YMCA to construct buildings on military posts. Governors Island, located at the mouth of the East River, is actually closer to Brooklyn. However, the work at the Army branch on Governors Island was undertaken by the YMCA of the City of New York, and later the YMCA of Greater New York. The first building was a frame structure built in 1900. In 1924, the National War Work Council contracted with the New York association to plan and operate a YMCA paid for by the Council. In 1927, a new building, supported in part by a donation from William E. Dodge, opened with an auditorium, gym with squash courts, library, canteen and other rooms. It was deigned to be a community center not just for military men, but also for their families. In 1928, the branch was renamed the Fort Jay branch. In 1941, the name changed again to the Governors Island Branch.

During World War II, hundreds of volunteers and additional paid staff were employed to meet the needs of the thousands of troops stationed on Governors Island. After the war, the program for enlisted men included weekly dances with hostesses from the New York area, live shows, games, television, music, and services that included counseling, housing referrals, and activities for teens.

As the 1950s drew to a close, it became apparent that the branch was not able to raise funds at the level needed to sustain the high quality of services the Army expected and the YMCA wished to provide. Moreover, the Army was increasingly providing services formerly offered by the YMCA. For example, the Army renovated the post gymnasium, effectively eliminating the need for the YMCA gymnasium. Improvements in the on-post library meant that the YMCA library was no longer needed. For all these and other reasons, in December, 1962, the YMCA decided to leave Governors Island.


The collection includes materials on the history of the Governors Island YMCA branch in addition to extensive correspondence regarding the merger between YMCA of the City of New York and the Brooklyn Queens YMCA. Also included are governing documents such as bylaws, planning information, anniversary programs and Board of Managers minutes as well as documents and correspondence related to the license to build a YMCA building on Governor's Island.


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]. Governors Island YMCA Records. 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, April 2012.
Catalog Record ID number: 6315589


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

Box 131 Correspondence, 1949-1965. 7 folders.
Includes correspondence and reports on the proposed merger with the Brooklyn and Queens YMCA, surveys, reports, bylaws, press releases, and information on the sale of the YMCA building on Governors Island.
Box 132 History, 1927-1962. 11 folders.
Includes historical sketches, pamphlets telling the story of Fort Jay on Governors Island, information on anniversary celebrations and events, building dedication program (1927), and an issue of the Armed Services News (vol. 20, no.3, 1960).
Box 1512 Agreements to build Fort Jay, 1923-1940. 1 folder.
Includes correspondence and legal documents related to the licensing, financing and building of the YMCA building at Fort Jay on Governor's Island.


Armed services records


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 -- Administration.
Young Men's Christian Associations -- New York (State) -- New York.
Fort Jay (N.Y.).
Governors Island (New York County, N.Y.).
Dodge, W. E. (William Earl), 1832-1903.
National War Work Council, Y.M.C.A. of the United States.
Young Men's Christian Association of the City of New York. Army Branch.
Young Men's Christian Association of the City of New York. Fort Jay Branch.