The Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) was founded in London, England, on June 6, 1844, in response to unhealthy social conditions arising in the big cities at the end of the Industrial Revolution (roughly 1750 to 1850). Growth of the railroads and centralization of commerce and industry brought many rural young men who needed jobs into cities like London. They worked 10 to 12 hours a day, six days a week. Far from home and family, these young men often lived at the workplace.
The Y comes to America
George Williams, born on a farm in 1821, came to London 20 years later as a sales assistant in a draper's shop, a forerunner of today's department store. He and a group of fellow drapers organized the first YMCA to substitute Bible study and prayer for life on the streets. By 1851 there were 24 YMCAs in Great Britain, with a combined membership of 2,700. That same year the Y arrived in North America, first in Montreal and then Boston.
The Y comes to Carlisle
It was on Monday, March 14, 1859 when 20 men met in Marian Hall to adopt a constitution for a local YMCA. Their purpose was for a group of young Christians seeking a wider association than their churches could give them and to contribute to Carlisle. The YMCA had started in the U.S. only about 8 years earlier and was experiencing great growth and change, time of transformation.
Spread of success
For 150 years, the YMCA has been a pioneering force in the United States. The YMCA is one of the most successful social institutions our country has every known. One out of three Americans reports being a YMCA member at some point in life, but what's even more remarkable is that the YMCA has touched virtually all Americans in some way. YMCAs invented basketball and volleyball. YMCAs pioneered in camping, public libraries, night schools, and teaching English as a second language. YMCAs introduced the world's first indoor pool and group swimming lessons. YMCAs offered after-school child care long before "latch key" kids had been given a name. And, YMCAs have provided war relief since the Civil War, aiding millions of soldiers at home and abroad.