Colored Women's Clubs Associations Collection
Netherland, Mary C.
Extent and media
Biography or History:
The records included within this collection trace the histories of three different associations of colored women's clubs: the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs; the California State Association of Colored Women's Clubs; and the National Council of Negro Women. These associations were all united by a common purpose of improving the welfare of African Americans and of providing service to the African-American community. Most of the materials on the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs (NACWC) were gathered by Mary C. Netherland and document meetings and events she participated in as a delegate to national conventions. The NACWC was founded in 1896 through the merger of the Colored Women's League and the National Federation of African American Women. Its primary intent was to provide African American women with an avenue for making a greater contribution to society and for agitating for reform in the realms of health, education, social welfare, religion, and civil rights. In addition, it aimed to use social reform as a way to fight racism and discrimination. Since African- American women were excluded from white women's social reform clubs, they formed their own parallel organizations and united them under the umbrella of the NACWC. Participation in these clubs enabled intelligent and ambitious African American women to find a socially respectable outlet for their energies and social concerns. California club women organized an affiliate association, the California State Association of Colored Women's Clubs (CSACWC), in Los Angeles in 1906. This state organization was founded by Eliza Warner and carried out the aims of the national association through the interests of local clubs. Departments formed within the CSACWC reflected the diverse interests and projects of club members, ranging from International Peace and World Affairs to Forestry and Prison and Parole work. Districts within the state existed to oversee club women within a particular geographic area. Women's clubs in the Bay Area belonged to the Northern District, which maintained a club house and held social events and meetings several times per year. The Bay Area women also formed the Northern Federation of Colored Women's Clubs as an affiliate of the Northern District. This federation served as a corporation to oversee the operation of the Fannie Wall Children's Home and Day Nursery, a home for orphans and destitute working girls. Opened on November 20, 1918 at 1215 Peralta St., the Fannie Wall Home later moved to larger quarters at 815 Linden Street and remained under the operation of the Northern Federation until 1941. On December 5,1935, Mary McLeod Bethune founded another association to organize women for constructive social action, the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW). A former president of NACWC (1924-28), Bethune wanted to create a coalition of national women's organizations which would have a greater commitment to women's issues and to working for the representation of African American women in public affairs. She established a national headquarters in Washington, D.C. and gained the participation of many diverse African American women's organizations around the country. Through regional councils and chapters, the NCNW worked to expose discriminatory practices and to educate the public about the status of minorities in the United States. In the Bay Area, the Northern California sections participated in advocacy projects for African American women and contributed to national projects focusing upon civil rights, hunger, employment, and housing.
This is an artificial collection which was assembled over a period of time through the donations of various individuals, including Mary C. Netherland and Lillian Dixon. Many of the materials were originally part of the collections of the East Bay Negro Historical Society.
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Processed by Marianne Carden, April 1, 1995. Finding aid updated by Sean Heyliger, March 2, 2013.Finding aid updated by Sean Heyliger, January 2, 2016 to add accession #2016-001.