Records of the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs, 1895-1992

The National Association of Colored Women's Clubs, Inc. (NACWC) is the oldest continually operating African-American secular organization in the country, as well as one of the nation's oldest women's organizations. It was formed in response to disenfranchisement under Jim Crow, with a particular focus on violence and stereotyping perpetrated against the African American men and women. The Records of the NACWC, 1985-1992 document over one hundred years of activity supporting the African American community in political, social, economic realms. The NACWC organized itself into thirty-five departments, including Legislation, Women's Work, Business, Industrial and Social Conditions, Suffrage, Juvenile Court, Rural Conditions, and Health and Hygiene. Educational initiatives were always a priority. This highly structured national organization granted African American women political power in times of disfranchisement and oppression and its progression indicates the development of African American female agency. Most national intiatives were also carried out at the local level, which provides documentation of the various manifestations of gender and race relations across the country.
The Records of the NACWC were compiled onto microfilm by University Publications of America, under editorial supervision of Lillian Serece Williams, Department of Women's Studies at SUNY Albany. The holdings have come primarily from the national headquarters of the NACWC, however, material was contributed from other collections, such as the Tuskegee University, Howard University, the Detroit Public Library and the Library of Congress.
The collection is divided into two parts. Part 1 covers the following topics: Convention Proceeedings, 1895-1992; Newsclippings on NACW Conventions, 1899-1939; the Margaret Murray Washington Papers, 1900-1907; Early Miscellany, 1893-1923; President's Files, 1918-1958; Printed Materials from the National Office; Printed Materials from State and Regional Associations of Colored Women's Clubs; and National Assocation Notes, 1897-1991. This is considered a resource for beginning researchers to gain familiarity with the initiatives of the NACWC. Part 2 contains the President's Office Files, 1958-1968. The files devote particular attention to the NACWC's activity during the Civil Rights Movement. The papers are subdivided to represent the two presidents during this era: Rosa Slade Gragg (1958-1964) and Mamie B. Reese (1964-1968). The material is primarily subject files, meeting/convention notes, and correspondence.
These microfilms are available in the Hawthorne and Longfellow library. An accompanying guide is also available (call number: E 185.86 B64 1994). This guide contains historical background on the NACWC, description of scope and content, notes on sources, and a list of abbreviations. Most helpfully, there is a subject index and a detailed Reel Index indicating the exact documents on each reel, how many frames this document occupies, and its major topics. There are two guides for the two collections, but they are bound into one volume.