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Springfield, Mass. YMCA Papers (MS 523)

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The Springfield Massachusetts YMCA was one of the first YMCAs to be established in North America after Montreal and Boston. The first meeting was held on May 3, 1852 at the Old First Church on Court Square. Soon disbanded for lack of support, it was not until the city’s third attempt in the early 1880s—with the creation of three separate branches: a Railroad YMCA, the Armory Hill YMCA, and a Central/Downtown Springfield Branch—that the Springfield YMCA was here to stay. The Railroad YMCA branch, established in June 1882, was the first Railroad YMCA to open in New England. The Armory Hill YMCA Branch, established November 21, 1882, rented rooms in the School for Christian Workers, now Springfield College, where James Naismith created the game of basketball in 1891. The current central or main branch of the YMCA of Greater Springfield Association is located on 275 Chestnut Street. Within the collection are materials that are about or are created by the Springfield Massachusetts YMCA. The bulk of these materials come from the early period of its history (1885-1920). Materials include manuscripts written on the history of the Springfield YMCA; pamphlets containing constitutions and by-laws, annual reports, and promotional materials for events, activities, and clubs; newspapers published by branches between 1876 and 1900, including the YMCA Monthly Advocate, Advocate, the Magnet, the Springfield Young Men, Association Notes, and the Monthly Bulletin. Of particular note are the scrapbook pages that exist throughout the collection, including the two full scrapbooks for the Central branch containing materials from 1885 to 1972.