Perhaps one of the most exciting moments in archival work is the unveiling of newly acquired material. Surveying the contents of boxes may yield countless papers, photographs, books, or videos – a hodgepodge of loosely related materials. It is an adventure that turns up awesome and unique items. The most recent donation to the University Archives, given by Kyle Donaldson, Financial Development Manager of YMCA Buffalo Niagara, features historic materials from the Niagara Falls branch. Amidst a variety of papers, photographs, and scrapbooks, a nondescript cardboard tube held an exciting find – three large banners dating to approximately the late 1970s.
The banners are unique given their age, design, and surprisingly good condition. They are very large; each measures over 4 feet tall and 9 feet wide and are colored with vinyl paints depicting promotional slogans and cartoonish designs. The first reads “We’re in the People Business – YMCA,” in white and yellow lettering on a blue background; the second depicts a cartoon family in white helmets atop a motorcycle with a dog in tow, and reads “Something for Everybody – Join YMCA” on a blue background; the last banner displays three children – a soccer player, swimmer, and baseball catcher – on a field of white, blue and black with the slogan “Where the Action Is! YMCA.”
The first YMCA in Western New York was established in Buffalo in 1852 and has grown to include about six area branches and continues to contribute to the growth, health, and wellness of Buffalo and the surrounding region. Buffalo’s famous Turkey Trot is the oldest consecutively run footrace in North America. Camp Weona opened for summer programs in 1897, and women were permitted to join the association in 1934. New branches opened across the region throughout the 20th century; though it wasn’t until 2006 when the Niagara Falls Branch joined the association, thereby creating the YMCA Buffalo Niagara.