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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 | Related Materials | Indexed Terms/Access Points


Creator: Barnett, Eugene E.
Title: Eugene Barnett papers.
Date: 1920-1975.
Collection Number: Y.USA.25
Abstract: Papers of Eugene Barnett documenting, in part, his work with Chinese YMCAs and his international travels in his role as general secretary of the International Committee.
Quantity: 1.4 cu. ft. (4 boxes)
Location: See Detailed Description section for box listing.


Eugene Barnett was born in Leesburg, Florida on February 21, 1888. A Phi Beta Kappa student, he graduated from Emory University in 1907. In 1908, he began his YMCA career as a student secretary at the University of North Carolina, where he was a graduate student.

In 1910, he married Bertha Smith and was sent to China, where he founded the YMCA in Hangchow (Hangzhou) and headed it as general secretary until 1921. For the next two years he served as the national student secretary for China and then was promoted to national city secretary, holding that position until 1925, when he became senior secretary for the International Committee of the YMCA in China. While in China, Barnett was a confidant of the country's civic, military, religious, and educational leaders. He held substantial responsibilities in the development of the emergency program that rendered service to Chinese troops when the country was first invaded by Japan.

In 1937, Barnett was recalled to the United States to become executive secretary of the YMCA's International Committee. His qualities of statesmanship were demonstrated at a difficult period. Barnett, together with lay and staff colleagues, devoted every effort to securing income to liquidate debt, while maintaining a modest program. In 1945, the indebtedness was wiped out with a substantial gift from John D. Rockefeller, Jr. In 1940, Barnett became the general secretary of the National Council. He was active in the work of the World Alliance of YMCAs and played a major role in the shaping of its policies.

Though Barnett retired as general secretary in 1953, he did not by any means retire from an abiding interest and involvement in the YMCA. He remained a familiar figure at YMCA gatherings almost until the day of his death in 1970.


Barnett's papers cover only his later career from 1937 until his death in 1970. Correspondence with YMCA secretaries in China documents the increasingly unstable political conditions with the occupation of the Japanese during World War II and later, the Communist takeover. As general secretary of the International Committee and the National Council, Barnett made a number of speeches including "The American YMCA, the World YMCA and the World Committee." There are some press releases concerning his appointment to the general secretaryship in 1941. His correspondence as general secretary tends to concentrate on administrative functions. Most of the materials from the 1960s and 1970s concern his memoirs, including the collecting of biographical information and distribution of the finished product. There is also a manuscript of volume two of the memoirs.


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]. Eugene Barnett Papers. Kautz Family YMCA Archives. University of Minnesota.
See the Chicago Manual of Style for additional examples.
Processing Information:
Material in this collection was formerly cataloged as part of the YMCA Biographical Files.
Audio/visual materials removed from this collection include 22 photographs.
Processed by: Chan Harries, January 2005.
Catalog Record ID number: 4502373


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

Box 1 Provenance, 1964.
Biographical materials, 1920-1941, 1953-1970. 2 folders.
China, 1928-1947. 11 folders.
Box 2 China, 1949-1951.
Clippings, undated, 1933-1946.
Correspondence, 1935-1939, 1941-1943, 1945-1953, 1956-1970. 10 folders.
Correspondence, memoirs, 1964, 1971-1975. 2 folders.
Correspondence, memorial service, 1970.
Correspondence, travel, 1935, 1937, 1949, 1952.
Memoirs, mailing list, 1973.
Box 3 Memoirs, volume II, manuscript, undated. 3 folders.
Chapter VIII: "South of the Clouds: Yunnan,"undated.
Chapter from manuscript.
"As I Look Back: Recollections of Growing Up in America's Southland and of twenty-six Years in Pre-Communist China, 1888-1936," undated.
Mansucript memoir.
"Notes on a Journey Around the World and Visits to YMCAs in some Sixteen Countries," 1947.
Philippines tour, 1954-1955.
Visitation reports, 1954-1955.
World Alliance consultation, 1954.
Retirement party, 1953.
Box 4 Speeches, 1937-1953, 1968. 3 folders.
Press Bureau releases, undated.
Press Bureau releases, undated.
United Christian Publishers, 1943.
The United Christian Publishers constituted a group of publishers distributing materials in China, one of which was the Association Press.


The following related materials are available at other archival repositories:
Eugene Barnett, Papers, 1905-1970. Columbia University. University Libraries. Butler Library.
A copy of this finding aid is available at the Archives.


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.
Communism -- China -- History.
Sino-Japanese Conflict, 1937-1945.
Young Men's Christian associations -- China.
Young Men's Christian associations -- Employees.
Young Men's Christian associations -- Philippines.
China -- Social conditions -- 1912-1949.
Barnett, Eugene E.
Young Men's Christian Associations of China. National Committee.
Young Men's Christian Associations of North America. International Committee.