century association biographical archive

Earliest Members of the Century Association

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John R. Mott

General-Secretary, International Committee of YMCA

Centurion, 1919–1935

Full Name John Raleigh Mott

Born 25 May 1865 in Livingston Manor, New York

Died 31 January 1955 in Orlando, Florida

Buried Mount Hebron Cemetery, Upper Montclair, New Jersey

Proposed by Charles R. Crane and George A. Plimpton

Elected 1 March 1919 at age fifty-three

Archivist’s Note: Father of John L. Mott

Century Memorial

Mott was born in Livingston Manor, New York, but grew up in Iowa, attending Upper Iowa University at the age of 16. He transferred to Cornell University in 1885 where he intended to study law, but switched to philosophy. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1888 and began a 27-year service as the national secretary to the Intercollegiate Y.M.C.A.

With Karl Fries of Sweden, he organized the World’s Student Christian Federation in 1895 and as its general secretary went on a two-year world tour. Mott was the presiding officer of the World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh in 1910, and chairman of the International Missionary Council.

From 1915 to 1928, Mott was general secretary of the International Committee of the Y.M.C.A. and from 1926 to 1937 president of the Y.M.C.A.’s World Committee. During World War I, Mott became general secretary of the National War Work Council, receiving the Distinguished Service Medal for his work. For the Y.M.C.A. he kept up international contacts as circumstances allowed and helped to conduct relief work for prisoners of war in various countries. He declined President Woodrow Wilson’s offer of the ambassadorship to China, but he served in 1916 as a member of the Mexican Commission, and in 1917 as a member of the Special Diplomatic Mission to Russia.

He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1946 for his work in establishing and strengthening international Protestant Christian student organizations that worked to promote peace.

Mott wrote 16 books in his lifetime; crossed the Atlantic over 100 times and the Pacific 14 times, averaging 34 days on the ocean per year for 50 years; delivered thousands of speeches; and chaired innumerable conferences.

Dr. Mott and his wife had four children, including John L. Mott. He died at his home in Orlando, Florida, at age 89.

James Charlton
“Centurions on Stamps,” Part I (Exhibition, 2010)