The archive includes the minutes of the YMCA National Council, dating from 1882, together with minutes of many of its Committees. These Committees include the Officers Training and Nomination Committee (formerly the Secretarial Appointments Board), Finance and General Purposes Committee, War Emergency Committees, Education Committee, Physical Education Committee, Community Services Committee, Special Services Committee, Migration Department Executive Committee and a number of others.
In addition, there are minutes of a number of associated organisations including Inter-Council Committee (formerly the Committee for British Business, a joint Committee with the Scottish and Irish Associations), 1884-1970; the International Hospitality League/ Red Triangle Hospitality League, 1918-21; and the Council of Voluntary War Work, North Africa and Central Mediterranean Committee (a body with representatives form YMCA, YWCA, Catholic Women's League, Church Army, Church of Scotland, Salvation Army, Toc H), 1943-48.
There are substantial quantities of material relating to the YMCAs war work during the Great War which consists of various series of compilations of folders (often referred to as the First World War Green Books). These include photographs of war emergency work at home and abroad; printed reports, pamphlets, cuttings and some manuscript correspondence and notes about war work (organised by place or subject); binders of correspondence, printed material and photographs relating to military camp work; and compilation volumes of typescript records relating to the YMCAs war work including lists of workers.
The archive also includes a large collection of binders which contain printed and other materials relating to both local YMCAs and to the district unions. The materials in these binders (which date from the mid 19th century up to about 1922) include annual and conference reports, by-laws and magazines, advertising literature, published histories and programmes of events. They provide an enormous amount of information about the activities of these branches which ranged from religious, social and educational programmes to health education projects, youth clubs, libraries, gymnasia and other sporting facilities, training and other courses for young people. As well as acquiring printed material of local YMCAs, the National Council at one time encouraged these bodies to deposit their records centrally at its headquarters. As a result, the archive includes minutes, financial records, photographs and other material of a small number of local YMCAs and of unions of local YMCAs. These include, for example, minutes of the North Western District Union of YMCAs (1904-73) and of the Yorkshire Union of YMCAs (1915-76); and records of Penrith YMCA (1889-1964) and North Liverpool YMCA (1885-1936).
Complete sets of the various sequences of national YMCA journals, including YMCA Monthly Review (1884-89), The Red Triangle (1917-23) and the British YMCA Review (1936-39, 1948-61) have been deposited. Other publications such as national annual and conference reports, printed publicity and other literature are also available as is a set of the early Exeter Hall lectures, 1847-1865.
In addition, other deposited records include archives of the Association of YMCA Secretaries, which comprise minutes, conference proceedings, reports, journals and newsletters (1890-1980s); and a large collection of printed literature and publications of the World Alliance of the YMCAs and of national and international bodies of YMCAs around the world including North America and Asia. While this latter category of material is not unique, it constitutes an important collection which is not easily accessible elsewhere in the country.
The archive also includes a small quantity of papers of individuals connected with the YMCA. These include a diary and scrap album of Gypsy Smith, evangelist and YMCA war worker, who undertook mission work amongst troops in France in the First World War and who also promoted the YMCAs war work in this country; a diary of W E Shipton, Secretary of the City of London YMCA, 1851-80; and a diary of a visit to America in 1883 by William Hind Smith, then National YMCA Secretary.