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

An Inventory of His papers

Biography | Contents Summary/Organization | Administrative/Access Info | Contents Details | Indexed Terms/Access Points


Creator: McBurney, Robert Ross, 1837-1898.
Title: Robert McBurney papers.
Date: 1864-1937
Collection Number: Y.USA.21
Abstract: Collection contains primarily correspondence of McBurney with other YMCA leaders. Also included are manuscripts of biographies of McBurney.
Quantity: 1.4 cu. ft. (4 boxes).
Location: See Detailed Description section for box listing.


Robert McBurney was born in Ireland in 1837, immigrating to the United States in 1854. On arriving in New York City he got a room in the YMCA, where he soon developed an interest in the organization. He became employed as its executive officer in 1862. (The term general secretary was not yet used, but McBurney is regarded as the first staff person to whom the term applied.) McBurney presided over the extensive growth of the New York City association from this time through the 1890s. This growth included increased membership, new branches, and more buildings, including the first in the country especially built for association purposes (1869). McBurney was also active on the state and national levels. He was a founder and leader of the New York State Committee and its president in 1869, the 1870s, and 1875. In the mid-1860s he was the corresponding member of the International Committee from the New York State Committee. In 1869 at the Portland Convention he was elected a full member to the International Committee. He was also active in the General Secretaries Conference since its inception in 1871. He attended World Conference meetings in Europe five times during the 1870s and 1880s. In 1896 the pressures of work caused a breakdown. He moved to a sanitarium and died in 1898.


The papers include biographical sketches, articles and reminiscences. There are also two lengthy biographical manuscripts, one by L. L. Doggett and one by John Morse. Also included are papers and addresses by McBurney on a variety of topics. Correspondence regarding local and national administrative matters with Thomas Cree, William Dodge, Richard Morse, Dwight Moody and other YMCA leaders can be found in this collection.


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]. Robert McBurney Papers. Kautz Family YMCA Archives. University of Minnesota.
See the Chicago Manual of Style for additional examples.
Processing Information:
Materials in this collection were formerly catalogued as part of the YMCA Biographical Files.
Processed by: Chan Harries, October 2004.
Catalog Record ID number: 4487905


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

1 Memorial minutes from New York Board of Directors meetings, 1887, 1899.
Memorial materials, 1898-1937.
Frank Ballard, correspondence, 1869.
Cephas Brainerd, correspondence, 1870-1889.
Thomas Cree and others regarding the Philadelphia YMCA, 1883-1884.
William Dodge, correspondence, 1866-1892.
Walter Douglass, correspondence, 1883. 2 folders.
Regarding the Missouri state committee and International Committee relations.
James Houghleting, correspondence, 1883.
William Chauncy Langdon, correspondence, 1877.
H. Thane Miller, correspondence, 1873-1890.
Dwight Moody, correspondence, 1878-1887.
Richard Morse, correspondence, 1895-1898.
Reverend M. Woolsey Stryker, correspondence, 1883-1885.
Springfield College, correspondence, 1890-1901.
Foreign work, correspondence, 1872-1898.
Correspondence received by McBurney during his last illness, 1872-1898. 3 folders.
2 Correspondence received by McBurney during his last illness, 1898.
Correspondence regarding Doggett's biography of McBurney, 1898-1901.
Doggett's manuscript of McBurney biography, 1902. 4 folders.
Unpublished manuscript on McBurney by John F. Moore, circa 1930. 2 folders.
3 Correspondence of McBurney with various correspondents, 1869-1891.
Papers and addresses, 1889-1892. 2 folders.
General papers, 1864-1968. 3 folders.
Testimonial of New York City YMCA directors to McBurney on completion of 35 years of service, 1897.
4 Speeches, 1890-1892.


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 -- Employees.
Young Men's Christian associations -- Administration.
Young Men's Christian associations -- New York (State).
Brainerd, Cephas, 1831-1910.
Dodge, W. E. (William Earl), 1832-1903.
Doggett, L. L. (Laurence Locke), 1864-1957.
Langdon, William Chauncy, 1831-1895.
McBurney, Robert Ross, 1837-1898.
Moody, Dwight Lyman, 1837-1899.
Moore, John F., d. 1948.
Morse, Richard Cary, 1841-1926.
International Young Men's Christian Association Training School (Springfield, Mass.).