While looking through newspaper archives awhile ago, I unexpectedly found an article with a photograph of my mother. In the photograph below she is seated at the table checking people into the dance. I looked for a photograph of the hotel where the dance was held and found the old postcard. Next I looked for something about The Girl Friends Society. I had no luck at first. Items about the Girls Friendly Society kept turning up and it wasn’t the same group. After I dropped “Society” in my search, I found several things, including the history of the group below with a link to their website. The Springfield, Mass. Chapter was founded in 1935 and they celebrated their 75th Anniversary in 2010.
I never knew my mother to be part of any posh groups so this was all news to me. In February of 1951, my father was pastor of St. John’s Congregational Church in Springfield. I was 4 and my sister had just turned 2 in December. We moved to Detroit in the Fall of that year.
* Founded during the Harlem Renaissance in 1927 by eleven young women based on friendship and community involvement
* One of the oldest social/civic organizations of African-American women in the United States
* Incorporated in 1938 under the legal guidance of Baltimore attorney Thurgood Marshall (spouse of Girl Friend Vivian Marshall)
* Founders of the organization were Eunice Shreeves, Lillie Mae Riddick, Henri Younge, Elnorist Younge, Thelma Whittaker, Dorothy Roarke, Helen Hayes, Connye Cotterell, Rae O. Dudley, Anna S. Murphy and Ruth Byrd
* Bessye Bearden, newspaper columnist, civic leader and mother of celebrated artist, Romare Bearden, served as the groups chaperone and advisor.
* Currently there are 45 chapters across the country, and over 1400 women of prominence in membership
*The first chapter expansion was in 1928 with the formation of the Philadelphia chapter, with Baltimore (1930), Boston (1931) and New Jersey (1932) and New Haven (1932) soon added
*The first Conclave (national meeting of chapters) was hosted by New York in 1933
*Organization colors are apple and emerald green, its flower is the Marshall Neal rose (now called the yellow tea rose)
*Since those formative years, the chain of friendship has grown to embrace a continent. Girl Friends have founded schools, headed colleges, earned all manners of academic and professional degrees, written books, headed their own businesses, saved lives, been elected to Congress and named to the cabinet of the US President. They have also been devoted wives, mothers, sisters and friends, and involved members of their communities.
*Currently there are 45 chapters across the country, and over 1400 women in membership.
Copyright 2007, The Girl Friends,® Inc. The Girl Friends® is a registered service mark of The Girl Friends, Inc.