A – APPROPRIATE Celebrations

This is my tenth A to Z Challenge. My first was in 2013, but I missed 2021. This April I am going through the alphabet using snippets about my family through the generations. On Saturdays I’ve combined my usual Sepia Saturday post with the letter of the day. A double challenge!

Pearl Reed. This photo was in the family photos and it is the one that appeared in the paper.

In the 1909 Easter season, my grandmother Pearl Reed sang at two events. Her photograph appeared in the section of the white paper “The Indianapolis News” entitled “News of Colored Folk” My grandfather Albert B. Cleage also appeared doing a reading at Witherspoon Presbyterian Church’s Easter service. I have included the newspaper column below. If you click you can enlarge it. I will also transcribe the two items that mention my grandparents below.

I am fulfilling two prompts with this post, the” first”A” in the A to Z Challenge and the Sepia Saturday post “Sing.”

Indianapolis News, Saturday, April 10, 1909

“Ressurrection of Christ.”

Witherspoon Memorial United Presyterian church will have special services at 10:30. The church is holding its services at the Y.M.C.A. rooms, North and California streets. The morning program will include a short sermon by the pastor, the Rev. D. F. White; Dr. Albert Cleage will read a paper on “The Resurrection of Christ”; Mrs. Pearl Donan will read the Easter lesson. There will be solos by Mrs. Othello Finley and Miss Pearl D. Reed, and a select chorus will sing “Hear His Voice.”


Miss Pearl Reed One of Singers at Jones Tabernacle.

Among the special attractions of Easter week will be the music festival to be given next Friday evening at Jones Tabernacle, under the auspices of the Witherspoon Memorial United Presbyterian church. A carefully selected program has been arranged in which the best available talent will take part.

In addition to Miss Pearl Reed, a popular soloist, Miss Osie Watkins of Richmond, had been engaged to sing. Other features will be vocal solos by Aldridge Lewis and Mrs. Sallie Robinson. There will be instrumental solos by Alfred Taylor. The Twentieth Century Club of Jones Tabernacle, will serve refreshments at the close of the program.

The Indianapolis Star
From The Arbustus, 1911, Indiana University School of Medicine
Dr. Albert B. Cleage

Congregation of Witherspoon United Presbyterian Church 1909 About the church.

Oh Dry Those Tears! More Pearl singing.

Click for more Sepia Saturday offerings.
#AtoZChallenge 2023 badge A

43 thoughts on “A – APPROPRIATE Celebrations

  1. These photos are wonderful and an excellent theme for your A to Z. The family photo of your grandmother Pearl Reed is so detailed. No wonder they used it for the newspaper! Looking forward to your other A to Z photos.

    1. I didn’t know that photo existed until I saw it on my aunts wall one day when I must have been in my 40s or 50s.
      Now to go visit your post for “A”

  2. Great Blog Kristin!
    As a kid, I used to look at old black and white photographs and find no connections. I thought they just looked strange and bizarre and well……..old.

    Now when I look at them, I can see just how young all the people look, and I wish I knew them when they were in that picture!

    Zulu Delta

    1. I wish I could have heard her sing in her youth. I did hear her sing in church when we would be singing from the hymnal, but by then her voice was not the same.

  3. It must be really cool to read about your ancestors in the newspapers of the day. And you have finished all your A to Z posts already! That itself is an achievement.


    1. It’s such a relief to have them done! And it is nice to read about my ancestors in the paper. Unfortunately the rural ones did not get any stories in the paper so I know them less. I feel like that.

  4. I like your theme of Family Snippets and also your linking your post post to two prompts. How lucky you are to have the newspaper reports and photographs. I look forward to reading further A-Z snippets.

  5. You have, indeed, matched both prompts! Nice going. But that first newspaper clipping with its title of “Colored Churches To Have Special Services” was chilling to see – even knowing the time it came from for truly, we’re not that far removed from it even today. We’re making progress, but not near enough! One day, maybe? One can only hope! And Easter is a good time for hope. 🙂

    1. On the positive side, many white papers didn’t have a “Colored News” section and if there wasn’t a local black paper, we didn’t get reported at all. Unless it was a murder or fight or something negative.
      There is a long way to go and we do want to keep hope alive…

  6. Great start to the challenge. That’s a lovely photograph of Pearl. It would have been wonderful to hear her sing, I imagine. But how lucky to have the newspaper reports.

    1. I only knew them as old people so finding news items and letters from their youth has given me a whole different or enlarged picture of them.

  7. I love the newspaper clippings and the active role both your grandmother and grandfather played in the community. I couldn’t quite interpret the tone of the white paper. Did they cover the events themselves or simply publish copy provided to them?
    For example, the term “appropriate celebrations”: is it rather condescending, suggestive of a tendency to engage in “inappropriate celebrations”? Or am I reading too much into it?

    1. I think they wrote it themselves. Maybe they had a “colored” person report the colored news. I think the “appropriate celebrations” is just the way they wrote back in 1909.

  8. Wonderful photo of your grandmother. She must have been really talented, and I think courageous to sing solos. That’s just my own viewpoint. Glad to hear of coverage of the events in the newspaper. Yes, I’m still very hopeful for racial equality and when we all are just not aware of color of skin.

    1. My grandmother was pretty fearless. Singing solos would have been nothing to her.

      I don’t think we’ll every not be aware of skin color, nor do I think we should be. We are aware of hair color and other colors. The injustice is the problem, not the color.

  9. A nice photo of your grandmother even if she looks solemn. I was pleased to be able to hear an early recording of one of the songs she had sung in your earlier post.

  10. You and your family have such a treasure trove of old photos that I’m not surprised that you would have the original photo that was printed in the newspaper, but I am still very impressed. I continue to be amazed at the details found in old newspaper reports. My local paper has made so many cuts in local news that what is left would hardly fill half a page. Did your grandparents know each other in 1909? I can imagine Albert taking a good look at Pearl’s photo and wondering if he might meet her one day.

    1. They were among the founders of Witherspoon United Presbyterian Church. They met in the church and she was a member of the choir. I guess he thought the same looking at her in person.

  11. You are so fortunate to have these photos and links to your past. Wouldn’t it have been wonderful to have heard her sing.

  12. “News of Colored People” makes me want to say I’m sorry. What a treasure to have that photo in your collection! We have family photos in those same paper frames, and they are so fragile now!

    1. Those were the “liberal” papers that had a column of “News of Colored People”. Other papers had none, anywhere in the paper.

  13. I do so love your photos – a priceless record of the times, and of course of a much treasured family history.

    It’s my tenth year too. 🙂

Comments are closed.