The Links Inc. Eastern Area archival collection
Held at: Historical Society of Pennsylvania [Contact Us]1300 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19107
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Always remaining close to the needs of the community, the Links steadily have increased membership through the incorporation of local civic organizations that apply for “interest group” status, an introductory designation prior to official chartering as a chapter. Local programming varies considerably from chapter to chapter, yet the organization as a whole supports a broad platform of civic duty, educational reform, and cultural awareness. These basic tenets have helped the Links maintain a close relationship with the NAACP – dating back to 1952 – in efforts to improve the quality of life for black Americans. For the past twenty years, the Links Foundation, the organization’s philanthropic division, has allowed the Links to engage in large-scale fundraising to provide financial support for civic-minded individuals and institutions. Connecting Links and Heir-o-Links, two other divisions of Link husbands and children respectively, also provide assistance in raising awareness within the black community.
Comprised of chapters throughout the northeastern United States (as well as one in Frankfurt, Germany), the Eastern Area branch of the Links, Inc. functions primarily as an administrative arm for programming initiatives set forth at the national assemblies taking place biennially in even years. As one of four branches of the Links, Inc., the Eastern Area administration assists chapters in designing programs that fall under the basic headings of Link service: National Trends and Services, International Trends and Services, Services to Youth, and the Arts. Area conferences are biennial as well, taking place in odd years.
The Eastern Area administration also suggests new approaches to strengthen social bonds and increase member participation – a philosophy at the very heart of the organization structure. Bound by friendship, each member (or “Link”) can better share her talents when tackling the challenges confronting the black community. Praised again and again as the cornerstone of the organization’s success, this concept of Linkdom revolves around one simple principle – to link each member through friendship in order to link the group to the surrounding community.
Beyond these administrative duties, however, the Eastern Area is little more than a regional grouping of chapters. Its own records are minimal and shed little light upon the social bonds so essential to the inner workings of the organization. The story of the Links, Inc. takes shape in the holdings of the individual chapters, whose detailed reports continually express the members’ sense of leadership and civic duty. Each month chapters meet to discuss and record their thoughts on issues facing black America and adapt national programming initiatives to fit the needs of their own region. The implementation of national programming varies at the local level as chapters use a variety of approaches to achieve the goals outlined by the Links conventions. For example, the Old Dominion Chapter in northern Virginia concentrates on educational initiatives by way of the regional political system while Baltimore’s Harbor City Chapter approaches these same goals through youth programming.
The countless national programming guides and convention ephemera found throughout the collection demonstrate the value placed upon a chapter’s participation in the development of nationwide programming. Maintaining a belief that the organization’s analysis of the changing needs of black Americans begins within community itself, each chapter has been granted a certain amount of autonomy in developing Link platforms and initiatives at the local level. This independence in devising small-scale community programming serves as the backbone to the creation of national initiatives as chapters meet at regional conferences and biennial conventions. Even as the Links continue to increase their membership to over ten thousand women, it is this bottom-up approach to social service that will allow the organization to remain close to the black community.
This ability to adapt programming to the needs of the black community has become imperative as the Links spread their social platforms beyond the United States. More recently chartered groups have implemented local programs only to find an increasing regional interest in international aid. For example, in the course of five short years, the Jamestown Chapter of western New York has evolved from funding community college scholarships to providing firsthand assistance in Belize and western Africa. In a 1996 interview with Ebony Magazine, National President Patricia Russell-McCloud stressed the changing mission of the Links on the eve of their fiftieth anniversary:
The mission of the Links is to reach people at their point of need, men and women, boys and girls, domestically and internationally. Our mission is to discern the need and fulfill it, whether that is tutoring young children in middle school or visiting the elderly at nursing homes or putting water wells in villages in Africa. We must [p]reserve the culture of the African-American experience and the Diaspora. (Ebony, July 1996; article from Penn Towne Chapter records)
That “link” of friendship and respect that unites members throughout the organization remains essential for the coexistence of both local and international initiatives in providing for the black community.
Orchestrated by DeLores Weaver from the Penn Towne Chapter of Philadelphia, the collecting of archival materials from each Chapter of the Eastern Area Links began as a time capsule project in October of 1999. Appointed archivists from each chapter were asked to contribute their most notable records, articles and photographs to mark the organization’s role at the start of the new millennium. On November 9, 2000, the Eastern Area chapters held a reception at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to commemorate the establishment of the Eastern Area Archival Repository. In the true spirit of Linkdom, the collection exemplifies the respect given to those closest to the community, honoring the efforts of the talented women shaping the direction organization’s direction in the years to come.
The records of The Links, Inc., which evolved from a time capsule project into an archival collection around 2000, span from 1948 to 2005 (subject to change as more chapters donate their materials). The materials chart not only the history of the organization from its creation after the Second World War, but also the development of African-American civil service throughout the latter half of the twentieth century. A close study of the organization’s structure – in particular, the manner in which local branches contribute to the design of programming nationwide – unravels the intricacies of developing community-based social aid.
Materials from multiple chapters have been compiled to form this collection with each series representing a different chapter in the larger organization. While each series contains the primary elements from the time capsule project (e.g., introduction, chapter history), the subsequent materials donated by each chapter portray the civic value of the Links in more detail. In a letter to Althea Spraggins, the Eastern Area Director of Chapter Presidents and Archivists, Link Weaver encouraged chapters directly: “Tell your own story.” Most chapters’ archival records open with a letter to Link Weaver and a “Message to the Future” to be opened decades into the new millennium. Chapter histories follow, along with charter certificates, by-laws, and photographs, which depict members at various events and conventions. Program reports demonstrate the manner in which the Links’ social service is maintained both financially and structurally.
Most chapters have contributed a collection of monthly meeting minutes and program reports, which provide an understanding of the chapters’ operations, and the basis for the organization’s evaluation of the needs of a designated jurisdiction. The style and attention to detail in meeting minutes varies greatly from chapter to chapter, ranging from an agenda-style format to thorough ten-page reports. The New Haven and Jamestown chapters, for example, have provided excellent examples of brief, yet informative reports delineating meeting discussions in two pages or less. Other chapters, such as Delaware Valley and Erie County, have taken a more detailed approach to include financial information and reports on the success of a particular program.
Often accompanying the chapters’ administrative information are photographs and scrapbooks, mainly chronicling conventions and events of the past twenty years. The Baltimore Chapter holds the collection’s oldest images, including group portraits and chartering events from the 1940s and fifties. Throughout the collection, most photos have been adequately labeled, including the dates and the names of members depicted.
As of 2007, chapter donations are on-going and series may be added.
Series 1. Albany District Chapter, 1999
Series 2. Baltimore Chapter, 1948-1999
Series 3. Brooklyn Chapter, 1999
Series 4. Bucks County Chapter, 2001
Series 5. Capital City Chapter, 2001-2003
Series 6. Delaware Valley Chapter, circa 1970s-2000
Series 7. Eastern Area, 2000-2001, 2006-2010
Series 8. Erie County Chapter, 1987, 1989-2000
Series 9 . Essex County Chapter, 1996-2001
Series 10. Farmington Chapter, circa 1980-2000
Series 11. Harbor City Chapter, 1985-2000
Series 12. Jamestown Chapter, 1993-2002
Series 13. Long Island Chapter, 2002-2003
Series 14. Middlesex Chapter, 2000-2001
Series 15. Morris County Chapter, 2000
Series 16. New Haven Chapter, 1986-2000
Series 17. Niagara Falls Chapter, 2000
Series 18. Old Dominion Chapter, 1994-2000
Series 19. Penn Towne Chapter 1988-2000, 2006
Series 20. Potomac Chapter, 2001
Series 21. Raritan Valley Chapter, 1986-2000, 2009
Series 22. Richmond Chapter, 1998
Series 23. Silver Spring Chapter, 1988-2000
Series 24. Southern Maryland Chain Chapter, 2000-2001
Series 25. Suffolk Chapter, 1999-2001
Series 26. Wilmington, Delaware Chapter, 1999
Series 27. South Jersey Chapter, 1978-2006, undated
Series 28. Philadelphia Chapter, circa 1954-2010, undated
Gift of various chapters of the Eastern Area of the Links, Inc., 2000-ongoing.
Accession numbers 2006.045, 2009.018, 2013.002
Materials from each chapter were removed from the initial time capsule format – which housed documents in casings as diverse as sealed envelops and cardboard tubes – and then were rearranged into a series to allow incoming materials from each chapter to be added more easily to collection.
Beginning with Series 27 (an accession from 2006) the series names are no longer in alphabetical order.
Processed by Tyler Rudick; additional processing by Joanne Danifo in 2007 and by Cary Hutto in 2012.
- Historical Society of Pennsylvania
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Tyler Rudick, Joanne Danifo, Cary Hutto, Megan Sheffer Evans.
- Finding Aid Date
- ; 2007.
- Access Restrictions
The collection is open for research.
Chartered one year after the Links’ incorporation in 1951, the Albany District Chapter has the distinction of being one of the earliest groups chartered into the organization. Its series contains a recent picture of its membership, a listing of the chapter’s highlights from 1999, and images of these events. A brief note to archival coordinator Link DeLores Weaver is also included.
The Baltimore Chapter has submitted a substantial collection of materials documenting its early history in the Links. The series contains three folders beginning with a history and event program commemorating the chapter’s twenty-fifth anniversary in 1973. Also included are photocopies of original chapter certification from 1948 and handwritten meeting notes from 1948 to 1952. The first folder ends with two project reports – one from 1989 and another from 1991 – that exemplify the national and international Link initiatives. The series continues with a folder of press clippings dating from 1948 (included are several excellent articles on black history of the Baltimore area). The series ends with a folder documenting a variety of historic chapter events through event programs, photographs, photocopied images, and ephemera.
Founded in 1952, the Brooklyn Chapter was one of the initial groups chartered into the Links after the organization’s incorporation a year earlier. The chapter has contributed a letter to archivist Link Weaver and a separate “Message to the Future,” which has been presented in the form of a poem.
This relatively short series from the Bucks County chapter in southeastern Pennsylvania contains a Candidate’s Booklet from the Eastern Area Conference of 2001 and a note to archivist Link Weaver.
Included in this series from the Capital City chapter are two press clippings (one of which has no source listed) and two operational reports. There is also a letter proposing a donation to victims of the September 11th, 2001 attacks in Washington, D.C.
Chartered in 1964 under the sponsorship of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Links, Inc., the Delaware Valley Chapter provides service for the greater Philadelphia region, including Bucks, Chester, and Delaware counties.
One of the largest donations of chapter materials in the collection, the Delaware Valley series begins with a “letter to the future” for the proposed Millennium Time Capsule. A chapter history and by-laws complete the first folder. Following are six folders of meeting agendas, correspondence, and occasional event programs from 1997 to 1999. Next is a folder of professionally printed programs, primarily from regional and national conventions. The series ends with a folder containing a set of photographs from what appears to be the 1970s and another folder of photocopied press clippings and photographs from 1989 to 2000. There is also a plaque honoring the Delaware Valley Links from the youth volunteerism group Teenshop, Inc. and a binder of photographs from the 1987 Eastern Area convention.
Although the Eastern Area headquarters in Washington function as the administrative body for the northeastern United States and Germany, the group has a relatively small series that includes a programming guide for 2000 to 2001.
Chartered in 1987, the Erie County Chapter of western New York state currently maintains a membership of thirty-five women. The series begins with an introductory letter from chapter archivist Madeline Scott to DeLores Weaver noting that the records also have been cataloged and microfilmed. Following are by-laws and a rather unique collection of letters from 1987 congratulating the group for obtaining chapter status. Eight folders of meeting minutes, finances, and agendas as well as seven folders of committee reports from 1989 to 2000 easily make this the most thorough collection of meeting-based documentation. A folder of correspondence from 1992 to 2000 and another of event programs from 1991-99 follow.
The series ends with what is perhaps the collection’s largest selection of materials beyond the scope of meeting minutes and programming reports. A scrapbook (removed from the original photo album and photocopied for archival purposes) highlights programs and events from fiscal year 1998-99 through press clippings, letters, and programming guides. Following is a 1994 new membership packet – an extremely useful set of papers in understanding the organization’s history and the meaning of Link membership. There are also reports from 1992 to 1994 pertaining to the chapter’s sub-committee called the Women’s Issues Network. The final folder contains photocopied articles dating from 1990 to 1996 regarding individual members, Connecting Links, and Heir-o-Links.
Originally formed in 1984 as a professional women’s organization known as the Essex New Directions, the Essex County Chapter of northern New Jersey was chartered into the Links, Inc. on April 26th, 1986. The chapter currently enlists the service of thrity-five members.
The materials provided by chapter archivist Gwenddyn Davis were donated in a sealed cardboard tube intended to be opened in April of 2011 as part of the proposed Millennium Time Capsule project. Materials were removed and flattened for archival purposes. Like many other chapter holdings, the series begins with a “message to the future.” Glued to green construction paper, the six-page message has also been photocopied to ensure its preservation. Following are event programs from 1986 and 1999 as well as a color-photocopied membership picture and a selection of photographs from various programming events in 2000. There is also a small collection of photocopied articles related to a tenth anniversary gala event featuring famed rhythm and blues musician and Chicago politician Jerry Butler.
The Farmington Valley Chapter of Connecticut has donated a small but well-selected collection that begins with archivist Deirdre Biddy’s detailed description of the holdings. There are photographs from 1979 and 1999, original handwritten minutes from 1983, and remarks commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the group’s 1979 charter.
Harbor City became Baltimore’s second chapter of the Links, Inc. when chartered in 1985. Originally founded in 1983 as an interest group called the Charm City Women’s Association, the chapter was renamed to avoid confusion with its earlier incarnation.
Chapter archivist Jesola E. Jones has arranged a rather extensive collection that begins with a short history and continues with a biographical sketch of each current member, photocopied press clippings, and several certificates of appreciation. Four folders of event programming follow, containing reports, brochures, and promotional flyers from 1985 to 2000. Completing the series are photographs from 1986 to 2000 and several pieces of ephemera from a 1996 youth summit.
Recognizing a need to organize another chapter in western New York state to assist in service to the black community, Georgia Cowherd founded the Chautauqua Ladies Club in 1989 to seek status as a chapter of the Links, Inc. After four years of service very much in line with the Links’ national initiatives, the club of twenty-five civic-minded women was chartered in 1993. Diagnosed with cancer that same year, Georgia Cowherd sadly passed away in February of 1994 and was succeeded by Link Ida Knight as chapter president.
With one of the largest donations of the recently charted chapters, the Jamestown holdings open with a letter from archivist Kathryn Kenney listing the chapter’s contribution to the Eastern Area Archival Repository. Also included in the first folder are by-laws, a chapter history, correspondence pertaining to acquisition of chapter status, a member listing and photograph, and a color photocopy of the chartering certificate. Meeting minutes from 1994 to 2002 follow in four folders. The series closes with three folders – one of event programs and programming reports, another of correspondence, and a final folder of photographs.
This rich series exemplifies the loyalty and commitment necessary to bring a burgeoning Link chapter to the forefront of social activism in a given community. The Jamestown holdings chronicle the chapter’s rise from small-scale local aid to international efforts to strengthen black communities such as their Books to Belize program and a campaign to enrich education in Africa.
Based in Roosevelt, New York, the Long Island Chapter engaged in service throughout Nassau, Suffolk, and Queens counties. Chartered in 1962 as the first Links chapter on Long Island, the chapter has expanded considerably from its original membership of twenty to include thirty-eight women at its fortieth anniversary.
The small Long Island Chapter series includes correspondence between Chapter President Marcia White and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania’s Lee Arnold. There is also a sheet of highlights from the year 2000. Two event programs follow as well as a photocopied article commemorating the chapter’s fortieth anniversary.
The Middlesex County Chapter, founded in 1976, provides community service throughout the greater Boston region. Chapter archivist Claudette Crouse has donated a rather small collection, which was originally intended for the proposed Millennium Time Capsule. A letter to Link Delores Weaver and a “message to the future” are included as well as a detailed member listing.
The Morris County Chapter of northern New Jersey provided a message for the Millennium Time Capsule.
With a rather unique chapter history dating back to its 1972 charter, Connecticut’s New Haven Chapter has the distinction of being founded by the fifth Eastern Area Director Millicent Smith.
The chapter’s holdings span only two folders, yet the materials have been selected carefully – one of the collection’s best examples of the Links commitment to their own history and development. The series starts with an introductory letter (“A Message to the Future”) and continues with photocopied charter certificates, two newspaper clippings, and meeting minutes from 1986-2000. A second folder contains event programs from 1986 to 2000.
Organized by a prominent social worker named Alice C. Hayes on May 24th of 1950, the Niagara Falls Chapter was the first of several Links chapters in western New York. The series contains an event program and journal for the chapter’s 50th anniversary celebration. There is also a letter to Link Weaver from chapter President Crystal Barton and archivist E. Marie Davis.
Comprised of forty-eight members, Old Dominion Chapter has been providing social service throughout northern Virginia’s Prince William County since receiving its charter in September of 1993. Prior to their group’s incorporation into the Links, these women worked under the direction of Will Rawls Dumas and DyAnne Horner Little as an interest group named the National Organization of Role Models and Mentors (NORMM), Northern Virginia Metro Chapter.
This rich series compiled by archivist Lois Grimmett begins with a time capsule message from chapter president Mary Raby Stafford and continues with a chapter history, correspondence, and a collection of page-long member biographies. Following are two folders of event programs and programming reports concerning political and educational platforms. The final folder contains press clippings and a collection of photographs that has been transferred from a photo album into archival sleeves.
With a charter membership of twenty-five, the Penn Towne Chapter was established in 1975 as one of four Links groups committed to service throughout the greater Philadelphia region.
The Penn Towne Links have maintained one of the more extensive record-keeping projects in the collection, offering a rather in-depth perspective on the workings of chapter administration. Included are four folders of meeting minutes from 1988 to 1996 and a final folder of newsletters and press clippings. This series also contains an interesting variant to the relatively standard chapter history – a scrapbook constructed by photocopying event programs, news articles, invitations, and photographs to delineate the chapter’s history from 1975 to 1995.
Organized in the early 1980s as an interest group known as the Beltway Women’s League, the Potomac Chapter received its charter in June of 1984 to become the 206th chapter of the Links, Inc. Their series contains an introductory letter to archivist Link Weaver and a “Letter to the Future” that also outlines the chapter’s history and programming initiatives. In December of 2000 charter member Gladys Gary Vaughn became National Vice President of the Links, Inc.
Formed as a Links interest group in 1984, the Raritan Valley Chapter of central New Jersey received its charter in April of 1986. The chapter has archived what seems to be the entirety of their copious meeting minutes from the chapter’s first year of service. The seventeen folders of meeting reports incorporate monthly finances, programming reports, and grant proposals to provide one of the collection’s most detailed administrative contributions. The Raritan Valley minutes also include organizational documents for events offering a rare glimpse into the work involved in arranging large-scale events such as the chapter’s yearly Mélange of Arts celebration. The series also holds a folder of chapter history, including a charter certificate, member listing, and chapter by-laws. There are also two folders of correspondence, a folder of selected event programs and brochures, and a folder containing an excellent variety of well-labeled photographs.
The Richmond Chapter has provided a photocopied image of a collage commemorating the forty-seventh anniversary of its 1951 chartering year.
Beginning in 1970 as an interest group known as the Asterisks, the Silver Spring Chapter was officially installed on November 18th, 1972, with fifteen charter members. As of 2001, membership has reached fifty-five.
The holdings assembled by chapter historian Mabel Smith begin with a folder containing the chapter’s history, programming initiatives, and a membership listing. Also provided is a well-arranged scrapbook of photographs and documents highlighting key events and programs in the group’s history.
The Southern Maryland Chain was first organized by Albertine T. Lancaster in the spring of 1980 as an interest group working to demonstrate its commitment to the social initiatives of the Links, Inc. In May 1982, the group was installed as an official chapter. Their series contains a single sheet that incorporates a chapter history with a series of images. The sheet also includes a listing of twenty-nine members for the 2000-01 fiscal year.
Founded in 1983 under the direction of Violene O. Shapre as the Suffolk Women’s League, the Suffolk Chapter was chartered into the Links in 1985. Serving the Virginia communities of Suffolk and the Isle of Wight, the chapter concentrates on financing educational scholarships and providing assistance for special health needs of local students. The chapter has also contributed financial aid to help build schools in Rwanda and Liberia. In 1993 the Suffolk Chapter had the honor of sponsoring and electing one of their members, L. Bernice Plummer, into two terms as Eastern Area Treasurer.
Originally adhered to a scrapbook intended for the Time Capsule Project, the Suffolk records have been removed and also photocopied for archival preservation. The series begins with a thorough two-page “Message to the Future,” by-laws, and a member listing. Following is a chapter history that includes a collection of corresponding photographs and programs of key events. These images have been scanned by the chapter and printed in color ink for the scrapbook.
The Wilmington, Delaware Chapter was established in 1948 as one of the earliest chapters beyond Philadelphia. As of 1999, the chapter had maintained thirty-eight members committed to community service throughout northern Delaware. The series contains only a “Message to the Future” which lists membership and objectives to strengthen youth outreach programming.
The materials of the South Jersey chapter of the Links are comprised of the archives inventory, introduction and history folder (connected to the time capsule project); meeting minutes, certificates, correspondence, newspaper articles, and other miscellaneous materials. The majority of the papers are the intermittent minutes spanning from the 1970s to 2000. The meetings focused on several areas of interest – youth services, the arts, worship, international trends (which included the chapter’s support of a Haitian refugee project), national trends (which included sickle cell anemia), and reports from the treasurer.
There are also programs from the annual exhibit the chapter held at Fine Arts Center at Gloucester County College. Sculptures and other works of art were displayed, and in 1998, vignettes from a play titled Of Ebony Embers were performed. Other programs from the annual Dinner Dance the chapter held are also among the materials. The event was held to raise funds for the scholarship offered by the South Jersey Chapter of Links, Inc. The scholarship demonstrates the importance this chapter places on youth and education; it sponsored literacy programs, financial aid sessions, and career days. A photograph of members accompanies the 2005 Dinner Dance program.
The chapter’s correspondence, press releases, miscellaneous event flyers, and a scholarship application and supporting materials round out the papers relating to the South Jersey Chapter of Links, Inc. The few letters present in this series concern the planning of the exhibit at Gloucester County College (GCC), the chapter’s donations to different charities and fundraisers, and the planning of meetings. The newspaper articles in this series focus on the art exhibit at Gloucester County College and former South Jersey Links, Inc. president Evelyn Webb’s resignation from her post as president of GCC.
This series consists of three boxes (Boxes 12-15) of photographs and papers that highlight the Links' history and recent activities, gatherings, and events.
The first folder in this series (Box 12, Folder 1) contains thirteen photographs from the 1950s, several of which are from The Links, Inc. Eighth National Assembly, Denver, Colorado, June 28-July 1, 1956. Other photos include informal groups shots of members and those from a gathering that included Thurgood Marshall as a speaker. In this folder is also a commemorative photo-print of Margaret R. Hawkins, one of the founders of The Links, Inc.
The remaining papers in the series consist of form letters and correspondence, by-laws and amendments, newsletters, programs, conference materials, and other miscellaneous items such as and two issues of Jet. There are also materials from The Links' 35th and 37th National Assemblies (Box 12, Folders 5-6 and Box 13, Folder 4), as well as a directory of and several facts sheets on the Philadelphia Chapter. One fact sheet is titled "The Philadelphia Story," which reviews The Links' history from 1946 to 1996. (Box 12, Folder 2).