The Northeasterners Inc. Records

By Valerie Wingfield, Archives Unit
August 16, 2016
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

Three members of the Northeasterners, Inc., Edith Scott, Louise Swain, and Helene Corbin on Seventh Avenue in Harlem, 1927

The Northeasterners was founded as a social organization for African American women in 1930 by Agatha Scott Davis (d. 2002), the wife of Brigadier General Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.  

Agatha Davis was inspired to form this club after visiting African American debutantes in different northeastern cities. She felt their similar interests would be met in a club.  Davis would serve one term in office from 1929 to 1931.

Membership is by invitation only. Resumes for entree may  include educational background, professional careers of themselves and/or spouses, and membership in other African American  social organizations such as the Jack and Jill Club of America  (established in 1938).  Men who join the organization are known as Lords.

First Meeting  in New York City

At the first meeting held on June 1930 in New York City, the members elected to call themselves the Gay Northeasterners to reflect the bright, happy, merry demeanor of the group.  In 1979 the word gay was dropped to reflect the current name.

The  first chapters were established in New York City (serving also as the headquarters), Philadelphia and Washington. Chapters  would also open up in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C. and the state of New Jersey.

The Northeasterners hold an annual convention in different conclaves throughout the northeast and midwest. This organization  also has a history of  supporting charitable causes  and gives an annual scholarship to Howard University.

Preserving the History of the Organization

Former president Dr. Thomy D. Joyner thought that it was important to preserve the legacy of the Northeasterners and to have their archives preserved at an African American scholarly institution. The Schomburg Center for Research for Research in Black Culture  was selected by consensus. Vivian D. Hewitt acts as the liaison to the Schomburg Center and historian for the Northeasterners.

This blog post was inspired by the Northeasterners, Inc. records.

The New York Public Library's Mission Statement