Table of Contents

Overview of the Collection

Historical Information

Scope and Contents

Arrangement

Restrictions

Index Terms

Related Items

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Administrative Information

Series Description

Series 1: Publications

Series 2: Other Records

Publication List

Contents List

Plainfield Public Library

Plainfield Area Young Men’s Christian Association
(Y.M.C.A.) [1869--2007]

YMCA
The old Y.M.C.A. building on the corner of East Front Street
and Watchung Avenue
, circa 1890s- early 1900s.


Finding aid written and encoded by Sarah Hull in April 2009;
processed in April 2009 by Sarah Hull.


Overview of the Collection
Repository: Plainfield Public Library, Local History Department, 800 Park Avenue, Plainfield, NJ 07060
Creator: Plainfield Area Y.M.C.A. / Young Men’s Christian Association of Plainfield, N.J.
Title: Records of the Plainfield Area Y.M.C.A. / Young Men’s Christian Association of Plainfield, N.J.
Dates: 1869 – 2007 (with gaps)
Quantity: 1 linear foot of records
Comprised of 2 boxes:
One (1) 10”x12”x5” document case
One (1) 10”x15”x5” legal document case

Abstract: The Records of the Y.M.C.A. of Plainfield document the creation and history of the Y from 1869 to 2007. The collection includes correspondence, newspaper clippings, and publications such as annual reports and event programs. There is a large quantity of ephemera ranging from membership forms to song books. The collection includes two (2) scrapbooks that contain newspaper clippings, event-related items, and correspondence. There are also four black & white photographs: three of the Y building and one of a circus event.
Language: The records are in English.

Historical Information

The world’s first YMCA was organized in London in 1844. The Plainfield Area YMCA began in 1867 when Alexander Gilbert and H. Otis Newman voiced mutual concerns over the moral climate facing the youth in Plainfield following the Civil War (1861-1865).  The Association was actually formed one year before Plainfield became incorporated as a city, with Mr. Gilbert as its first President.  The new organization initially met in churches and rented spaces.  Its first comprehensive building was erected in 1894 at the corner of Front Street and what is now Watchung Avenue.  Primary programs included the library, Bible classes, night classes, and cultural programs.  The Works of the boys’ branch began in the late 1880’s, as did the Wawayanda boys summer camp.  The Women’s Auxiliary of the Y.M.C.A. was up and running by June 1885, and was shut down in February 1959.   Physical health programs began in the 1880’s.  The first comprehensive facility was constructed in 1894 and included a gymnasium and pool.

Although interest in starting an Association for African American youth surfaced in 1894, it did not occur until 1923 with the creation of the Moorland Branch.  Known as the Moorland Y, the branch was located on the old Hope Chapel property when it was purchased in 1926.  The Moorland building campaign was championed and led by Dr. A. L. Thompson, Sr., a prominent African American dentist in Plainfield.  The Moorland Y burned down in 1955.  Some of the leadership in the African American community felt the branch should not be rebuilt because it only aided in the segregation of the Plainfield community.  This sentiment was supported by the local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.  After much controversy, it was ultimately decided that the Moorland branch would not be reconstructed.  Instead, a new policy of full integration into the Plainfield Area YMCA came into effect.  Both the staff and membership of the Moorland Y were merged into those of the central Y.

In 1923, the completion of a new facility at East Sixth Street and Watching Avenue, where it is still located, helped expand the program scope and membership of the Y. This building was renovated in 1958, and later in 1963.  At first membership only included young men, and later boys.  There were four types of membership: active, associated, life and honorary.  Active members also had to be members of an Evangelical Christian Church, under forty years old, and pay a membership fee of $2.00 annually.  Associated members had only to be of good moral character, and pay the annual fee; they could participate in all Association activities except voting and holding office.  Life members paid a $20.00 fee and held all privileges.  Honorary members were voted in by the Board of Directors.  It wasn’t until later in the 20th century that the rules of the Association changed to reflect the inter-faith nature of their membership, and the right of all members to vote and hold office. The first sound club structure for girls was established in 1963, although teen-age girls were involved with a Tri Hi Y club in 1937.  In 1952, the creation of a Family Membership category treated women and girls as full members of the Association. 

A copiously written history entitled, “The Plainfield Area YMCA: 100 Years” is located in box 1.  It is an incredibly detailed account of the establishment and running of the organization from 1867 to 1967, written by Harry E. Moore, Jr. 

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Scope and Contents

The Records of the Y.M.C.A. of Plainfield document the creation and history of the Y from 1869 to 2007.  The collection includes correspondence, newspaper clippings, and publications such as annual reports and event programs. There is a large quantity of ephemera ranging from membership forms to song books.  The collection includes two (2) scrapbooks that contain newspaper clippings, event-related items, and correspondence.  There are also four black & white photographs: three of the Y building and one of a circus event. 

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Arrangement

The Records of the Y.M.C.A. of Plainfield are arranged into two series:

Series 1: Publications
Series 2: Other Records

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Access and Use

Restrictions on Access

The "Records of the Y.M.C.A. of Plainfield" collection is available for research.

Access is restricted to materials prepared by the Local History department staff. All materials must be viewed in the Plainfield Room and may not be removed to another area of the library without permission of the Library Director or designee. Materials must be handled carefully and kept in order. Materials must not be leaned upon, altered, folded, ripped, or traced upon. Marks may not be added or erased from materials. Materials must be returned directly to Local History department staff and inspected before the researcher leaves the Plainfield Room.

Restrictions on Use

One photocopy may be made (by Plainfield Public Library staff) of each document for the purpose of research; official Local History departmental reproduction fees may apply. Permission to publish must be obtained by the Plainfield Public Library Board of Trustees as delegated to the Library Director. Permission to publish does not constitute a copyright clearance. The researcher is responsible for further copyright restrictions. The Plainfield Public Library is not responsible for the misuse of copyrighted material.

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Index Terms

This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.

People:

Alexander Gilbert (1839-1929)
H. Otis Newman
Dr. A. L. Thompson, Sr.

Organizations:

Moorland Branch YMCA (Plainfield, N.J.)
N.A.A.C.P. (Plainfield, N.J.)
Plainfield Area Y.M.C.A.
Y.M.C.A. (Plainfield, N.J.)
Young Men’s Christian Association

Places:

Plainfield (N.J.)

Subjects:

Plainfield (N.J.)--History
Clubs and associations
Children and youth organizations
Moorland Branch YMCA (Plainfield, N.J.)--History
Young Men's Christian associations--History
Young Men's Christian associations (Plainfield, N.J.)--History

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Related Items*

Books:
PR 267.3 CEN, Developmental study of the Plainfield Y.M.C.A. / Central Atlantic Area Council of YMCAs (Newark, N.J.).
PR 267.3 FOR, A forward movement to meet a civic need : a jubilee gift to the young men and boys of Plainfield and vicinity, 1867-1917
PR 267.3 JOH, A history of the Moorland branch Y.M.C.A. of Plainfield, New Jersey / Frederick A. Johnson.
PR 267.3 PLA 1963/1976, Plainfield Area Y.M.C.A. HI-Y-TRI-HI-Y Council recognition of youth as leaders royal banquet
PR 267.3 PLA 1977/1982, Plainfield Area Y.M.C.A. HI-Y-TRI-HI-Y Council recognition of youth as leaders royal banquet
797.2 ON 1, On the guard : the YMCA lifeguard manual / Marjorie M. Murphy.

Photographs:
C-40612, YMCA Basketball Players Pose
C-10489, YMCA
C-10319, YMCA Building
I-51292, Children playing jump rope at the YMCA
I-51294, Young Boy Playing At The YMCA
I-51504, YMCA Girls Basketball League
I-51295, Children At The YMCA
I-51290, Children Playing At The YMCA
I-51291, Children Playing At The YMCA
T-2022, Laying of the cornerstone for the first Y.M.C.A. building
T-2023, Another scene of the Y.M.C.A. corner stone ceremony

Blueprints:
D-26, YMCA
D-407, YMCA
D-4367, YMCA
D-8571, Handball Courts for the Y.M.C.A. of Plainfield
D-12143, Barrier-Free Provisions for Plainfield Area Y.M.C.A.
D-12175, Life Safety Improvements for Plainfield Area Y.M.C.A.


Postcards:
C-314, Corner building with Hodges Pharmacy, man standing on corner
C-317, Corner view of building
C-331, Corner view of building with boy on bicycle
C-333, Corner view of building with boy on bicycle
C-336, Corner view of building with woman and horses and cart
C-341. Corner view of building
C-347, Front and left side view, cars parked on both streets
P-350, Building with YMCA sign and yellow and green cars
C-353, Waiting to Serve You Day and Night - Signed Paul R. Collier
C-354, "Old" building showing Hodge's Pharmacy and neighboring buildings
C-356, "Old" building with green Hodge's Pharmacy sign and bicycles
C-1440, Y.M.C.A. Circus, 1922
C-1441, Y.M.C.A. Circus, 1922
C-1442, Y.M.C.A. Circus, 1922
C-1443, Y.M.C.A. Circus, 1922
C-1444, Y.M.C.A. Circus, 1922
C-1446, Y.M.C.A. Circus, 1922
C-1447, Y.M.C.A. Circus, 1922
C-1448, Y.M.C.A. Circus, 1922
C-1449, Y.M.C.A. Circus, 1922
C-1450, Y.M.C.A. Circus, 1922
C-1451, Y.M.C.A. Circus, 1922
C-1454, Y.M.C.A. Circus, 1922
C-1455, Y.M.C.A. Circus, 1922
C-1456, Y.M.C.A. Circus, 1922
C-1458, Y.M.C.A. Circus, 1922

*Please contact the Local History Dept for possible additional items.

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Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

This collection consists of paper documents, which do not require any additional technology for access.

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Identification of item; Date (if noted); " The Records of the Y.M.C.A. of Plainfield, N.J.,” collection, Box and Folder Number; Local History Department, Plainfield Public Library, Plainfield, New Jersey.

Acquisition Information

The collection was donated in 2002 by the Y.M.C.A. of Plainfield.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Sarah Hull in March 2009. The finding aid was written by Sarah Hull in April 2009. Finding aid content follows the guidelines suggested by Describing Archives: A Content Standard.

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Series Description of the Collection
Series 1: Publications [1869--2007]

Series Description
Series 1 contains loose documents published and/or distributed by the Plainfield Area YMCA. It includes: annual reports, event programs, course/program brochures, and a library books catalog.  It is composed solely of paper documents. Some publications can be found within the scrapbooks. See publications list below.

Arrangement
Series 1 is arranged chronologically and fills 3 folders.

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Series 2: Other Records [1892--2007]

Series Description
Series 2 contains a variety of records from the Plainfield Area YMCA.  There are loose newspaper clippings dating from 1907 to 2007, ephemera including post cards and membership account cards, some correspondence (including that from the N.A.A.C.P regarding the Moorland Y), and two (2) scrapbooks containing all record types found within the collection (artifacts, clippings, correspondence, publications, administrative forms and other records).  There are four black & white photographs: three of the Y building and one of a circus event.  Also in this series is the State Membership Certificate from 1906.  This series is composed mostly of paper documents and two bound scrapbooks.  Documents are typed and handwritten.

Arrangement
Series 2 is arranged chronologically by subject, and fills one box and 6 folders.

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YMCA Publications List

2nd Anniversary celebration program, 1869
3rd Anniversary celebration program, 1870
Lecture course brochure, 1871
5th Anniversary celebration program, 1872
6th Anniversary celebration program, 1873
10th Annual convention proceedings, 1877
Grand Concert - Emma Abbott Company - program, 1877
Event program, 1877
Grand Concert - Mendelssohn Quintette Club (sic) program, 1877
11th Anniversary celebration program, 1878
Monthly reception program, 1878
Evening of English Glees program, 1879
Grand Concert program, 1881
Library books catalog, 1883
Summary of year’s works, 1899
Annual prospectus, 1902-03
Annual prospectus, 1903-04
Annual conference on boys’ work program, 1904
Annual prospectus, 1906-07
Annual announcement, 1909-1910
Address of Henry W. Herrman at the annual dinner, 1911
Boy in the House pamphlets (2), undated and 1911
50th Anniversary program, 1917
Automobile School brochure, 1918
Automobile School lesson program, 1918
Annual report, 1919 (2)
Annual report and banquet, 1921
Annual report and banquet, 1922 (2)
First Annual Mother and Son Dinner, 1922
Laying of the corner stone program, 1922
Annual report and banquet, 1923
Dedication of new building program, 1923 (2)
YMCA today brochure, circa 1928

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Contents Listing

Box

Folder

Title

Date

1

1

Plainfield Area YMCA 100 Years, Part 1

1967

 

2

Plainfield Area YMCA 100 Years, Part 2

1967

 

3

Correspondence (NAACP)

1892, 1956

 

4

News clippings

1907-2007, with gaps

 

5

Publications

1869-1899, with gaps

 

6

Publications

1902-1928, with gaps

 

7

Publications

2000-2006, with gaps

 

8

Ephemera

Undated

 

9

Photographs

Undated

 2

1

State Membership Certificate

1906

 

2

Scrapbook 1

1918-1922

 

3

Scrapbook 2

1925-1927

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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