Founded in 1869 as the Salem Fraternity Boys Club, ours is the oldest Boys & Girls Club in Massachusetts and the second oldest in the country.
In a book, “The First Twelve Years of the Salem Fraternity, 1869-1881,” there is a description of the need to attract young Salem people and to give them alternatives that would improve the quality of their lives.
“…How to reach this class of young people with some wholesome attraction which would employ their evenings better and save them from the exposures of the saloon and of the street… It was to enter into a competition with the street, and with other places offering amusements and entertainments less safe; it was to be seen who they would be, as to age, sex and tastes. Then would have to be considered what could be done for them; what to ensure their coming again; what to benefit them when there.”
Much has changed in 146 years, but the mission to attract young people away from harm, to give them skills needed to improve their lives, and to keep them coming back is still at the heart of our programming!
The Club has become a lasting and vital brand that symbolizes high quality youth services on the North Shore of Massachusetts. Over the past decade, the goals of the Club have expanded to emphasize programming that is designed to build confidence, resilience and positive decision-making skills in our youth.
Established in 1869 as the Salem Fraternity, the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Salem is the oldest Club in Massachusetts and the second oldest in the country. In the beginning girls were members; however, after a while, rowdy male members caused them to stay away, except to use the library.
According to an original 32-page book, “The First Twelve Years of the Salem Fraternity, 1869-1881,” the Club was the location of the first public lending library in Salem, 20 years before the Salem Public Library opened.
In 1906, the Salem Fraternity joined with 13 other established youth services organizations from across America to form the national organization, Boys Clubs of America. At that point, the Fraternity had been offering youth services for 37 years making it the oldest Boys Club in Massachusetts and second oldest in the nation.
In 1990, the organization became Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) and our Salem Club encouraged girls to join, incorporating the word “Girls” in our title, Boys & Girls Club of Greater Salem.
Always a “safe place for kids,” the Club has evolved into a respected after-school partner with the School Department. This evolution mirrors that of Boys & Girls Clubs of America as youth leaders understand that for our members to have a good life, they need a good education. Therefore, our programming is designed to build confidence, resilience, positive decision-making skills and a joy for learning
For more than a century, Clubs have helped put young people on the path to great futures. Boys & Girls Clubs annually serve nearly 4 million young people, through membership and community outreach, in over 4,100 Club facilities throughout the country and BGCA-affiliated Youth Centers on U.S. military installations worldwide.
BGCA offers tested, proven and nationally recognized programs designed to encourage Club members to realize a wide variety of positive outcomes, a strategy for developing the “whole child.” In recent years, the Boys & Girls Club Movement has focused additional efforts on helping children and teens achieve in our three priority outcome areas of Academic Success, Good Character and Citizenship, and Healthy Lifestyles.
Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salem Timeline
1869 – Salem Fraternity Boys Club established in Salem, Massachusetts
1906 – The national organization, The Boys Clubs of America, is established with the Salem Club one of fourteen founding members.
1990 – The Club officially adds "girls" to the name becoming The Boys & Girls Club of Greater Salem.
2007 – The Club opens a branch drop-in club in Peabody.
2014 – The Club moves to its new home in Collin's Middle School, Salem.