Archiving progress: what KADOC is doing to conserve the IYCW heritage


It has been two months since the IYCW archives were moved to KADOC, and since we have made good progress. In total, more than 1500 archive boxes were moved, which amounts to more than 160 meters! Here’s how we deal with such a large archive:

The process starts by putting the boxes on empty shelves in our depot. This allows us to gain an overview and match boxes that belong together, e.g. all boxes concerning International Councils. Then we apply ever more structure to the contents. For example, we first assemble all documents on the International Council in Beirut 1969 and then devise them into files or dossiers according to the subject; pieces concerning the preparation of the council, the subjects debated during the council, the elections, etc. Luckily, some sections already have an inventory made by members of the International Secretariat, which offers us a valuable guideline.

IYCW History: Rome 1957, the IYCW bursts onto the scene

Plan St PetersConfiguration of the I.C. official opening at Saint Peter's Square in Rome

After the outbreak of the pandemic in 2019, the IYCW has postponed the celebration of the XVth International Council. However unusual the current situation is, the postponing of an important event is no first in the history of the IYCW. This article takes a look at the preparations for the World Assembly and International Council in Rome 64 years ago, events that could have taken place earlier if it wasn’t for a global crisis: the Second World War.

1957 is a year engraved in IYCW (International Young Christian Workers) memory, and for good reason. The official recognition of the statutes by Pope Pius XII in Rome marked the beginning of an independent and autonomous IYCW. At the same time, the Italian capital was buzzing with life as some 30 000 young workers from across the globe gathered for the World Assembly. Many eyes were fixed on Rome; the IYCW was about to show itself to the world.

The humble beginnings of the International Council: the International Study Days in Brussels (1945)

The International Council has always been the most important governing body of the IYCW. As the democratic and representative representation of all national YCW’s, it has a rich history. Although the first official meeting was in Rome in 1957, the first initiatives towards an international, democratic and representative body were taken more than a decade earlier during the International Study Days in Brussels (1945). The IYCW-archives shed an invaluable light on the humble beginnings of the International Council.

The archive file contains a note made in preparation of the International Days with annotations from Jozef Cardijn (p.1-2). It concerned essential questions like ‘what should we discuss and who will attend?’. Among the topics to be discussed were mainly the establishment of an International Secretariat in Brussels and the basic principles of international collaboration. The second question was harder to answer than it seems nowadays; Canada and Luxemburg had already confirmed by telegram, the US will soon send one, the Netherlands, England, Scotland and Ireland will probably attend, shouldn’t Switzerland and Portugal also be alerted? Communication was quite the adventure…

Relocation of the IYCW Archives in the KADOC Catholic Documentation Centre of the University of Leuven

archivos de la JOCI

On February 23th, 2021, the archives of the International Young Christian Workers (IYCW) were moved from the International Secretariat in Brussels to KADOC Documentation and Research Centre on Religion, Culture and Society connected to the Catholic University of Leuven.

The IYCW has a rich history and pre-history. From its origins in the Young Christian Workers (YCW) (1925) movement, to its official recognition as an international movement in 1957 and beyond, it envisaged the emancipation and education of young workers all over the world. Through the years, the IYCW has produced vast archives containing written correspondence with the national branches and local (Church) authorities, documents on daily governance and activities, information on personnel and finances,… It really reflects the history of more than seventy years of IYCW.