- Thomas, Rudolph J., 1904-1990
- Call number
- Sc MG 425
- Physical description
- 2.5 linear feet (3 boxes)
- Preferred Citation
- Rudolph James Thomas collection, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library
- Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division
- Access to materials
- Advance notice required. Request access to this collection.
Collection of newspaper clippings, programs and some correspondence documenting Rudolph J. Thomas' career (1920-1965) at the Harlem Branch of the Young Men's Christian Association at 135th Street in New York City. Also included are certificates, honors and a scrapbook.
Rudolph James Thomas (1904?-1990), executive director of the New York City Harlem Branch of the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) at 135th Street from 1947-1965, was born in Orlando, Florida. Thomas moved with his family to New York City where he attended public schools, and in 1920 he began his career at the YMCA as an elevator operator and desk clerk. Upon graduation from Wilberforce University (Wilberforce, Ohio) in 1926 he held various positions at the YMCA, including acting membership secretary (1923); relief secretary (1927); membership secretary and employment director (1931) and business manager (1942). In 1947 he became the executive director of the Harlem Branch of the YMCA until his retirement in 1965.
Thomas was well known for fundraising and his ability to bring well known political, sports and show business figures to Harlem in support of the YMCA. During his tenure Thomas hired baseball players Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella to help with the YMCA youth programs. Later, Robinson and Campanella contributed their efforts towards fundraising for the YMCA. Among those supporting Thomas' work were Nelson and Winthrop Rockefeller, Perry Como, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Joe Louis, Humphrey Bogart, Harry Belafonte, Nat King Cole, Ralph Bunche and Hubert Humphrey. President Dwight Eisenhower, then president of Columbia University, attended ceremonies at the Harlem YMCA. Thomas also secured Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians for a YMCA benefit concert at Lewishon Stadium. New York State Governors Harriman and Rockefeller and New York City Mayors Impelliteri and Wagner participated in the activities of the Harlem Branch of the YMCA. Thomas served on numerous boards and commissions including the Draft Board during World War II. He received a special citation from President Harry S. Truman for his outstanding volunteer services. After his retirment from the YMCA, Thomas spent fifteen years as personnel director at Harlem Teams for Self Help.
- African American businesspeople
- African American executives
- African Americans -- New York (State) -- New York
- Associations, institutions, etc -- United States
- Fund raisers (Persons) -- New York (State) -- New York
- Sports general managers
- Young Men's Christian associations -- Administration
- Young Men's Christian associations -- New York (State) -- New York
Using the collection
LocationSchomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division
515 Malcolm X Boulevard, New York, NY 10037-1801