Be inspired and moved by the stories of the endeavours: 

From the birth of basketball at Springfield College in Massachusetts (imagine it all started with peach baskets!); George Williams’ drive to have YMCA recognised as an international movement; YMCA’s unrelenting role in wartime; and the art that has been created, often in the face of adversity.


Explore the fascinating history of basketball, from how it all started in 1891 at Springfield College in Massachusetts. James Naismith was a teacher at the college and was looking to create a physical activity that would interest his students.

Service In War

You can see the uniforms of the staff and discover more about YMCA’s role, with stories about the service of approximately 5,000 volunteers in the American Civil War, along with its support in the Boer War and the Spanish American War. During WW1 YMCA played an integral part in meeting the needs of the armed forces, working closely with hospitals and convalescent camps. During WW2, the role of YMCA grew as it worked closely with prisoners of war and refugees, running education programmes.

George Williams

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