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

An Inventory of Its Records

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Creator: YMCA of the USA. International Division.
Title: Records of YMCA international work in Russia and the Soviet Union and with Russians.
Date: 1884-1989 (bulk 1900-1930)
Collection Number: Y.USA.9-2-1
Abstract: Records of YMCA work in Russia and the Soviet Union consisting primarily of correspondence among YMCA secretaries working in Russia, as well as correspondence and reports to YMCA leaders in the Unites States on matters relating to programs, relations with the Orthodox Church, finances, membership recruitment, and work with World War I soldiers and prisoners of war.
Quantity: approx. 13.3 cubic feet (32 boxes)
Location: See Detailed Description section for box listing.


YMCA work in Russia began in 1899, when Clarence J. Hicks, with the financial support of philanthropist and International Committee member James Stokes, travelled there to study the means of introducing welfare activities for the railroad workers of that country. This did not come to pass, but Hicks did succeed in winning the approval of a high Romanoff for a young men's society in St. Petersburg and secured his personal protection for the organization. Called a "mayak," or lighthouse, it was essentially a YMCA. The new organization, directed by Franklin A. Gaylord, had its first home in a building given by Stokes. Stokes went on to found the James Stokes Society to support the work in Russia.

Religious activities in the Russian Y were directed by Orthodox priests. The program grew from modest classes in French, German, and bookkeeping through gymnasium work to popular lectures. A library and a drama program were also added. Stokes was insistent that the society should preserve its Russian character. In 1908 an American director for physical education activities was secured and what was said to be the best-equipped gymnasium in Russia was built in the courtyard of the Mayak. An athletic field was constructed and basketball introduced. The success of the operation attracted the interest of the Czar, who after about 1907 contributed five thousand rubles annually.

Plans were laid for the expansion of the organization into Moscow, but war and revolution prevented this, despite a promise from John Wanamaker to finance a building. In 1917, a society was founded in Vladivostok., However, the rise of the Bolshevik regime disrupted the growth of YMCA work, forcing American YMCA secretaries to leave and many of the Russian personnel into temporary hiding or prison. YMCA work continued as war relief work, mainly in Siberia, as well as among the Russians of the dispersion in Harbin and in Paris. Russian exiles assisted the North American YMCA with the creation of the YMCA Press (located originally in Prague, then Berlin, and then Paris) and the Chekhov Publishing House (in New York), both dedicated to help with the preservation of Russian Christian culture. These presses worked closely with Russian exiles in Europe and North America for many years post World War I

The following is a list of secretaries of the Mayak in St. Petersburg, as well as secretaries working with prisoners of war in Siberia and with Russian émigrés in Europe, along with their dates of service:

Alexander, Chester Stephen (1917-1920)

Anderson, Harry Dewey (1924-1927)

Anderson, Harvey Winfred (1919-1918)

Anderson, Paul B. (1917-1918, 1920-1947)

Arnold, Merle V. (1918-1919)

Baker, Harry Thomas (1916-1918)

Cattron, John Gardner (1918-1919)

Colton, Ethan Theodore (1917-1922)

Corcoran, Albert Tryon (1919-1930)

Day, George Martin (1909-1917)

Frederiksen, Oliver Jul (1922-1925)

Gaylord, Franklin Augustus (1899-1922)

Gott, Herbert Sidney (1916-1919)

Haag, Howard L. (1920-1936)

Harte, Archibald Clinton (1915-1920)

Heald, Edward Thornton (1916-1921)

Heinrichs, Waldo Huntley (1918-1919)

Hedden, Charles L. (1917-1919)

Heinz, A. E. (1819-1919)

Hollinger, Ralph Wall (1914-1920)

Hudson, Roy David (1917-1919)

Jenny, Arnold Eugene (1919-1920)

Kempa, Arthur Adolphus (1919-1925)

Lewis, John Brackett (1917-1924)

Lewis, Watson, F. (1919-1921)

Long, Harry Winfield (1916-1919)

Lowrie, Donald Alexander (1916-1919, 1919-1920)

MacNaughten, Edgar (1919-1920, 1924-1926)

Mitchell, Bertram Grant (1918-1921)

Moraller, Erich Ludwig (1906-1912)

Moran, Hugh Anderson (1916-1919)

Nelson, Claud Dalton (1917-1919)

Niederhauser, James Edward (1919-1920)

Ostergren, Ralph C. (1919-1918)

Phelps, George Sidney (1918-1920)

Riley, Charles Wood (1918-1921)

Robertson, Clarence Hovey (1917-1918)

Ropes, Ernest Chapin (1919-1921)

Scott, Roderick F. (1913-1914)

Simmons, Arthur Aborn (1917-1922)

Somerville, James, Jr. (1917-1918)

Somerville, Joseph John (1916-1920)

Sonquist, David (1919-1920)

Swartz, Philip Allen (1913-1915)

Historical information taken from History of the YMCA in North America, by C. Howard Hopkins, and from the collection.


Records of YMCA work in Russia and the Soviet Union consist of reports, correspondence, financial records, and printed material. Early material consists primarily of correspondence among YMCA secretaries working in Russia, as well as correspondence and reports to James Stokes, John R. Mott, and other YMCA leaders in the Unites States on matters relating to programs, exchanges and visits, relations with the Orthodox Church, finances, and membership recruitment.

During World War I, the North American YMCA shifted its emphasis to welfare with soldiers, including work with prisoners of war. Thus, much of the 1914 to 1918 records deal with the financing and administration of visits to prisoners of war camps and of getting educational and recreational materials to prisoners. World War I-era reports and correspondence also document YMCA work with American and British soldiers participating in the 1918 allied intervention in Soviet Russia at Murmansk and Archangel; and with YMCA work with Czech prisoners of war in their exodus across Siberia.

Also included in the collection are files from two of the YMCA secretaries involved with work in Russia or with Russians, Donald Lowrie and David Sonquist.


These documents are organized into the following sections:
Work in Europe
Russia and China
YMCA Press
Printed Material
Russian Church
Donald Lowrie Files
David Sonquist Files


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]. Records of YMCA International Work in Russia and the Soviet Union and with Russians. Kautz Family YMCA Archives. University of Minnesota.
See the Chicago Manual of Style for additional examples.
Processing Information:
Catalog Record ID number: 5006206


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


Box 1 Correspondence and reports, 1903-1914. 9 folders.
Box 2 Correspondence and reports, 1915-1918. 10 folders.
Box 3 Correspondence and reports, 1919-1922. 10 folders.
Correspondence and reports, annual reports - appendix, 1919.
Box 4 Correspondence and reports, 1915-1944. 7 folders.
Financial statement, 1925.

Work in Europe

Box 5 Correspondence and reports, 1920-1930. 11 folders.
Box 6 Correspondence and reports, 1931-1949. 10 folders.
Box 7 Correspondence and reports, 1950-1965. 7 folders.
Box 8 Annual reports, 1920-1949. 7 folders.
Box 9 Working in Pairs, Russian correspondence school, later Russian Superior Technical Institute, 1923-1930. 2 folders.
Working in Pairs, Russian Superior Technical Institute, former Russian correspondence school, 1931-1961.
Financial transactions, 1942-1952. 5 folders.
Budget and appropriations, 1945-1952. 2 folders.
Box 14 Russian orthodox theological academy, 1924-1948. 5 folders.
Russian religious news service, 1923-1929.
Religious philosophical academy, 1924-1925.
Notes on development of YMCA work for Russians outside of Russia, 1919-1932. 2 folders.
YMCA vocational school, Sofia, Bulgaria, 1924.
YMCA work, Estonia and Latvia, 1920-1933.
Russian student fund, undated.
Russian student Christian movement, 1912-1940. 2 folders.

Russian and China

Box 15 Harbin, Manchuria, correspondence and reports, 1918-1937. 11 folders.
Box 16 Harbin, Manchuria, correspondence and reports, 1935-1953. 3 folders.
Shanghai, China, correspondence and reports, 1926.

YMCA Press

Box 11 Publications, correspondence and reports, 1921-1958. 5 folders.
Publications, newspaper articles, 1973-1976.

Printed Material

Box 10 Outline on economic geography of Russian and other major countries, 1930. 2 folders.
Typwritting course by the "Blind Method", undated.
Terracing earth work, 1933.
Graphic statistics, 1932.
Cooperatives, 1930.
Geometric Drawing, 1930.
YMCA press, organization of industrial and commercial enterprises, 1934.
Box 23 Pamphlets in Russian language, 1896, 1921-1922. 2 folders.
Box 28 Pamphlets in Russian, 1917.
The religious situation in Russia, 1922.
Antireligious activities in the Soviet Union and in eastern Europe, 1965.
The YMCA and the Russian orthodox church by Frederic Charles Meredith, 1920.
Organization and programs of Russian course, 1923. 2 folders.
Pamphlets in English, 1933, 1935, 1917, 1923-1947, undated. 3 folders.
Pamphlets in Russian, 1918-1919[?].
Pamphlets in Russian and English.
Box 24 Herald of self-education, 1922, 1923.
Russian church, journals, 1917[?], 1927. 2 folders.
Box 26 Journal, 1922.
Periodicals list, undated.
Religion in Russia, No. 1-10, 1951. 3 folders.
Life in Soviet Russia, 1932.
Newsletter - Russian Dept. NY, 1921-1923.
Russian Newsletter Bulletin, August, 1936, October 1938, July 1939. 2 folders.
"Lighthouse" Herald, Viestnik Maiaka, 1922.
Herald, 1919.
Contemporary, 1928-1929.
Student leaflet, 1912-1913.


Box 12 Erivan, correspondence and reports, 1916.
Kharkov, correspondence and reports, 1918.
Kiev, correspondence and reports, 1914.
Kayan and Orenburg, correspondence and reports, 1917.
Minsk, western military district, 1917-1918. 4 folders.
Odessa district, correspondence and reports, 1918.
St. Petersburg - Mayak, correspondence and reports, 1901-1915. 5 folders.
Box 13 Petersburg, other evangelical organizations, 1884-1907.
Petersburg, (Petrogran)-Mayak, 1917-1918.
Samara, 1918.
Box 17 St. Petersburg-Mayak, annual reports, 1900-1916. 4 folders.
Petrograd, 1914, 1921, 1946, 1962.
Box 18 Archangel Murmansk, Districts, 1918-1919. 3 folders.
Box 30 Correspondence, 1919, 1921-1925.
Report on war work in Siberia of International Committee of the YMCA, submitted by Miles & Miles, Certified Public Accountants, 1920.
"From Omsk to Darien: A Trans-Siberian Odyssey," by [L. C.?] Convis, 1920
Transcribed by Paul H. Hopwood, 1997.
"A Summer in Siberia," by Albert W. Palmer, 1919.
Transcript of a handwritten account by Palmer's daughter, Margaret Taylor, from the Library Archives of Chicago Theological Seminary.
A Doughboy in the American Expeditionary Forces, Siberia: The Diary of Corporal Jesse A. Anderson, 1918-1919, by Jesse Arthur Anderson, 1983.
Box 18 Maps, undated.
General reports, 1918-1920. 2 folders.
Ekaterinberg, 1918.
Habarovak, 1919.
Novo-Nikolaevsk, 1919.
Cemsk, 1917-1919.
Tomsk, 1917-1919.
Vernke-Udinsk, 1919.
Siberia, Vladivostok, Krosnayarsk, 1919.
Vladivostok, periodicals in Russian language, 1918-1919. 2 folders.
Irkutsk, 1919.
Vladivostok, Czechoslovak - army work, 1918-1920.
Vladivostok, periodicals in English language, 1919.
Vladivostok, reports, 1918-1923, 1940. 2 folders.

Russian Church

Box 21 Clippings, 1925-1930.
The church and the Russian revolution, Long and Hopkins, 1917.
USA, 1922, 1923, 1927, 1928.
Russian church, 1930-1936. 2 folders.
Russian orthodox service book by Isabel Hapgood, 1922-1923.
Interpretations of YMCA relations, 1920-1937. 4 folders.
Karlovitz criticism, 1920s.
Box 25 Russian church, 1924-1929. 6 folders.
Box 22 Church fund, 1922-1923, 1926-1929, 1944. 3 folders.
Russian church, 1920-1925, 1930-1964. 4 folders.
Journals, 1921-1928.
Russian material, general background, 1922-1980.

Donald Lowrie Files

Box 27 Correspondence, 1939-1947. 2 folders.
Friendship Train, 1947.
Articles, 1951-1956, 1961-1964. 3 folders.
Helen Ogden Lowrie, correspondence, 1917-1919, 1944, 1948. 3 folders.
Donald A. Lowrie, letters, dairy, clippings, 1917-1921, 1940s-1970s, 1960s-1970s. 4 folders.

David Sonquist Files

Material collected by David Sonquist during his two years of YMCA work in Siberia, where he was stationed in Novo-Nikolaevsk, Tomsk, and Vladivostok. A significant portion of the material is in Russian.
Box 29 Correspondence, reports, etc., 1919-1920. 2 folders.
Receipts, expenses, and other financial records, 1919-1920.
YMCA Bulletin, 1919.
News bulletin of the YMCA in Russia.
Printed material and miscellany, 1919-1920 and undated.


Box 31 USSR agreements, 1980-1982.
CYO [Committee on Youth Organizations]/YMCA agreement, 1982-1983.
YMCA/CYO [Committee on Youth Organizations] meeting, 1984.
YMCA - CYO [Committee on Youth Organizations], 1987.
YMCA/USSR ad hoc task force, 1976.
Visits and Exchanges:
Box 31 Visit to U.S. of four Russian professional men, 1960-1962.
Professional personnel exchange, 1954-1960.
Stirling and Day meeting with Sputnik, 1975.
Material relating to visit by Alexander Day and Richard Stirling to USSR to meet with representitives of Sputnik (Internaitonal Youth Tourist Bureau) and reach agreementon possible exhcange programs between Sputnik and the YMCA.
Student exchange - Russian, 1958-1960. 2 folders.
Soviet - U.S. student exchange, 1973-1981. 2 folders.
Box 32 USSR exchange, 1981, 1983. 2 folders.
Soviet trip, 1987.
CYO [Committee on Youth Exchange] - YMCA visit, 1987.
USSR, 1976-1989. 3 folders.
Chautauqua conference, 1988. 2 folders.
CIMS [Center for International Management Studies]/GKNT [State Committee for Science and Techology] cooperative ventures, 1985.
New Times: A Soviet Weekly of World Affairs, and other articles, 1986-1987.
New Horizons in Soviet-U.S. Relations project, 1988-1989.
Tolstoy Foundation, 1978.
Box 19 G. Sidney Phelps papers, 1918, 1923, 1959.
G. Sidney Phelps, memoirs-Siberian expedition, 1918-1920.
Russian work, 1899-1917
General, 1917-1934.
Moscow, 1921-1926.
Free Russian Fund Inc., 1951.
Russia, 1960s-1980s.
Russian papers, not translated, 1918[?].
YMCA and Russian orthodox church, 1920.
Church and state, after 1939.
Kiev, 1914, 1917.
Miscellaneous, 1923-1924, 1939.
Russia, 1949-1974.
Box 20 Slavic Review articles, 1892, 1901-1902, 1906, 1974.
Interview with Paul B. Anderson, September 1971.
Personnel lists, 1917-1923, undated. 2 folders.
Newsletter - Russian dept., 1921.
Radicalism and red scare, 1927-1937.
Personal Accounts:
Box 20 Herbert Sidney Gott., 1916-1917.
C. Alexander, undated.
Louis L. Dunnington, 1917.
Sherwood Eddy, 1912, 1924.
George Gleason, 1918.
Clifford Hatfield, 1918.
S. E. Hening, 1923-1925. Pages 4 and 5 only.
Brackett Lewis, 1922.
Lyman R. Hiatt, 1920.
Howard C. Merrill, 1917-1919.
Tracy Redding, 1900-1916.
Harvey George Smith, 1957.
William Tucker, 1973.
Crawford Wheeler, 1918, [1975].
Orrin S. Wightman, 1918, 1938.


Biographical information on most of the secretaries involved in Russian work (see list of individuals in the historical note) is available in the YMCA Biographical Files (Y.USA.12), separately cataloged in the Kautz Family YMCA Archives.
The personal papers of Ethan T. Colton, Sidney G. Phelps, Paul B. Anderson, and Nicholas Goncharoff add valuable information to the various components of YMCA work in Russia and later with Russians in various places in Europe. These materials are separately cataloged in the Kautz Family YMCA Archives.
Personal papers of Donald Lowrie are available at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Archives.
Additional information about YMCA work with the post-World War I Russian diaspora can be found in the Records of YMCA Work in France (Y.USA.9-2-47) and the YMCA Russian Publishing Work Files (Y.USA.50).


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.
Orthodox Eastern Church -- Russia (Federation).
Prisoners of war.
Religion and culture -- Russia (Federation).
Religion and culture -- Soviet Union.
Russians -- China.
Russians -- Europe.
World War, 1914-1918 -- War work -- Young Men’s Christian associations.
World War, 1914-1918 -- United States -- Personal narratives.
Young Men's Christian associations -- Administration.
Young Men's Christian associations -- Russia (Federation).
Young Men's Christian associations -- Soviet Union.
Siberia (Russia).
Russia (Federation).
Soviet Union.
Anderson, Jesse A., 1891-.
Lowrie, Donald A. (Donald Alexander), 1889-1974.
Mott, John Raleigh, 1865-1955.
Sonquist, David E. (David Emmanuel).
Stokes, James, 1841-1918.
National Council of the Young Men’s Christian Associations of the United States of America. Foreign Division.
YMCA of the USA. International Division.
Young Men’s Christian Associations of North America. International Committee.