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George Williams

1821-1905

YMCA Founder

 

In response to unhealthy social conditions arising in the big cities at the end of the Industrial Revolution, the Young Men's Christian Association was founded in London, England, on June 6, 1844,   Growth of the railroads and centralization of commerce and industry brought many rural young men who needed jobs into cities like London. They worked under deplorable conditions up to 12 hours a day, six days a week.

Far from home and family, many of these young men lived at the workplace. They slept in crowded rooms over the company's shop, a location which proved to be safer than London's tenements and streets. Outside the shop things were dangerous—open sewers, thieves, thugs, beggars, drunks, prostitutes and homeless children running wild by the thousands.  

Founder, Sir George Williams was born on a small 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 years in Great Britain, with a combined membership of 2,700. That same year the Y arrived in North America: It was established in Montreal on November 25, and in Boston on December 29.

The idea proved so popular that in 1853, the first YMCA for African Americans was founded in Washington, D.C., by Anthony Bowen, a freed slave. The next year the first international convention was held in Paris. At the time there were 397 separate Y's in seven nations, with 30,369 members total.

Sir George Williams was born on October 11, 1821, the youngest of eight children. When he came to London, he described himself as a "careless, thoughtless, godless, swearing young fellow," but while staying in the town of Bridgewater and learning to become a draper (clothing goods trade) he became a devout Christian. Aware of the terrible conditions in London for young men like himself, who came to the city to work and were faced with few recreational opportunities other than saloons and brothels, he gathered a group of young men together for prayer and reflection. This developed into the YMCA.

Williams was not memorable just for this. He was a crusader for improved working conditions such as shorter hours (a standard working day was 15 or so hours), and as he became a successful businessman, he gave away approximately two-thirds of his income.

He has been commemorated by a stained glass window in Westminster Abbey and is buried in St. Paul's Cathedral, both among the highest honors given to English national heroes. 
-- Partial Text courtesy of the: YMCA

 

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Research Links

George Williams and the Central YMCA
... References. Binfield, C. (1973) George Williams and the YMCA. A
study in Victorian social attitudes, London: Heinemann. ...

SIR GEORGE WILLIAMS & THE YMCA
SIR GEORGE WILLIAMS & THE YMCA. An article for the April
1996 Deep Cove Crier Once a year, Easter ...

YMCA George Williams College Chatroom - Open Chat
YMCA George Williams College Chatroom An Anexa.com Community Anexa.com Communities
| Create a New Community. ... YMCA George Williams College Chatroom. ...

YMCA George Williams College, United Kingdom
... Name: YMCA George Williams College. Region: Europe - United Kingdom. Description:
The YMCA (Young Men's Christian Association) National College was established ...

travelaustralia.com.au - accommodation Brisbane , Hotels, ...
... Hotel George Williams Level 3, YMCA HOUSE 325 George Street Brisbane,
QLD, 4000. To advertise in this Directory Click Here. ...

George Williams College Index
YMCA George Williams .College. 199 Freemasons Road
Canning Town London E16 3PY Tel 0171 540 4900 ...

Who was George Williams?
Who was George Williams? Sir George Williams was born on October 11, 1821 ... and reflection.
This developed into the YMCA. Williams was not memorable just ...

YMCA - Young Mens Christian Association - Brisbane Australia
Visit www.ymca.org.au for the latest information on Fitness, Sport, Childcare, Accomodation and Camping in Brisbane, Australia

Untitled
... the world - the YMCA. George Williams' YMCA legacy was so highly regarded that
he was knighted and, upon his death in 1905, buried in St. Paul's Cathedral ...

Untitled
... Schools. In 1926, the Montreal YMCA Schools changed its name to Sir George Williams
College in honor of the founder of the YMCA (London, England, 1844). The ...

Canning Town Web Links
... YMCA George Williams College - YMCA George Williams College An Associated College
of Canterbury Christ Church College The YMCA George Williams College offers ...

ESCAPE Training & Development | TRAINING
... Miriam Jackson from the Regional Youth Work Unit. Specialist advisors include Louise
Winstanley from George Williams College YMCA and Pat Ledwith from PAULO. ...

ENGLAND
... YMCA George Williams College 199 Freemasons Road, Canning Town,
London E16 3PY; Tel: (171) 540 4900; Fax: (171) 511 4900. ...

YMCA's around the world
... United Kingdom YMCA Anglia & Central Region YMCA England YMCA George Williams College
YMCA George Williams College--Informal Page YMCA Wales YMCA World Urban ...

eLearners.com - Review a School
... Review a Learning Provider. "YMCA George Williams College" (if you have used this
provider's online offerings). ... Provider Information. YMCA George Williams College. ...

YMCA History
... In Europe, George Williams and his associates introduced the YMCA movement to Paris,
France, and to other major capitals. By 1854, 397 associations had 30,369 ...


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