December 15, 1851

First YMCA in the United States Organized in Boston

Region:
Greater Boston

On this day in 1851, a group of evangelicals from several Boston churches founded the first Young Men's Christian Association in the United States. Modeled on the YMCA in London, the chapter intended to safeguard young men who came to Boston from the vices of city life. It offered a safe gathering place, opportunities for exercise and socializing, Bible-study classes and prayer meetings. Future evangelist Dwight Moody, who arrived in Boston in 1853 from his family's farm in Northfield, wrote home about the Y, a place where he could read "all the books I want free" and hear "smart men from Boston lecture." In 1896 the Boston Y opened an evening institute for working men, the forerunner of Northeastern University.

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