YMCA of the USA. World Service.

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The first North American work YMCA work in China dates from 1889, when Luther Wishard travelled there as part of his efforts to lay the groundwork for a major expansion of YMCA foreign work. In 1895, the International Committee of the YMCA in North America sent the first American YMCA secretary, D. Willard Lyon, to China as a response to appeals from missionaries in Beijing (Peking), Shanghai, and Yantai (Chefoo). This was the beginning of fifty-five years of North American YMCA involvement in China. Over the years approximately 150 secretaries served in about forty associations throughout the country. Among the other early YMCA secretaries sent were Robert Ellsworth Lewis, Robert Reed Gailey, and Fletcher Sims Brockman. The Boxer Rebellion briefly halted the YMCA's activities in China, but recovery and advance followed rapidly. The peak of the International Committee's involvement came in the early 1920s, with 89 secretaries serving in China. By that time, there were 30 city associations with a membership of over 32,000, plus 170 student associations counting 14,200 members. Local boards of directors and the National Committee soon became predominantly and then exclusively Chinese. While the YMCA's foreign work was rooted in the missionary movement and Bible classes were among the first activities offered by the fledgling association, the program included a variety of other educational programs, including English classes, lectures, and vocational training. Physical training, public health education (a national health campaign organized by the YMCA in 1920s virtually ended typhus in China), and other fields of work were soon added as the YMCA responded to local needs. The YMCA introduced many Western sports and Western-style sports competitions, and can also take credit for the early organization of the Olympic movement in China.

From the description of Records of YMCA international work in China, 1890-1991 (bulk 1896-1949). (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis). WorldCat record id: 263982008

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf YMCA of the USA. World Service. Records of YMCA international work in China, 1890-1991 (bulk 1896-1949). University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Brockman, Fletcher Sims, 1867- person
associatedWith Chinese Students' Christian Association. corporateBody
associatedWith Exner, Max. person
associatedWith Lyon, David Willard, 1870-1949. person
associatedWith National Board of the Young Men's Christian Associations. corporateBody
associatedWith National Council of the Young Men's Christian Associations of the United States of America. corporateBody
associatedWith Peter, W. W. 1882- person
associatedWith Princeton University. corporateBody
associatedWith Robertson, C. H. person
associatedWith Wang, Quncong. person
associatedWith Yen, Y. C. James, b. 1893. person
associatedWith YMCA of the USA. World Alliance. corporateBody
associatedWith Young Men's Christian Associations of North America. International Committee. corporateBody
associatedWith Yui, David, Z. T., 1882-1936. person
associatedWith Zhang, Boling. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Hong Kong (China)
Church work
Public health
Young Men's Christian associations
Young Men's Christian associations

Corporate Body

Active 1890

Active 1991

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