Viri Viginti (Twenty Gentlemen) Club of Philadelphia records
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
In 1914, twenty African American friends formed a male social club based upon the creed “Your word is your bond”. This creed expressed the intention for gaining membership in club. They were to act like twenty gentlemen. No constitution or by laws were adopted until 1991 when the Principles of Associations were adopted as a compromise. The club’s Latin name Viri Viginti was chosen to be translated to mean that the membership was to be only twenty who were expected to have the qualities of gentlemen and professionals with the necessary academic requirements of scholars too.
Operationally, the club has formal and informal purposes. The formal purpose has been to have September to May meetings (now 5) with the one agenda - planning for a great season ending party. A holiday party has become an added option. In 1926, the Garden Party was initiated in historic La Mott, Pennsylvania and happened there many times, other beautiful venues were used subsequently. However, Drexelbrook Caterers has been used for Garden Parties in the 21st century. The informal after meeting included a lavish dinner- today it’s a luncheon. Also, being professionals, members have looked forward to expressing themselves about the world and black community’s most critical issues of the day, even on to debating them , perhaps heatedly, airing diverse points of view, plus helping each other with mentoring and networking.
“The Viri Viginti Club of Philadelphia 1814 – 1986” was written by the late past VV Presidents C.Allen Durrant, Leon Martin, and past Vice President, Everette Madison, son of founder John Midison as an 75th Anniversary Edition. Also, the Viri Viginti 75th Anniversary was celebrated with a grand party and their papers were presented to the Balch Institute by then President, Dr. Clarence Faulcon. June 8, 2014 is when the club celebrated its 100th birthday making it the oldest continuous black social club in Pennsylvania – Joe Wade, President
--background essay, "A Characterization of Viri Viginti" provided by Dr. Clarence Falcon
The collection of records from the Viri Viginiti Club is housed in three boxes and primarily documents the club's activities during the 1980s. Save for a few resumes and member lists, there is scant documentation on the members themselves. The original rough arrangement according to subject and date has been maintained.
Making up the bulk of the papers are minutes and reports, correspondence, and other administrative papers from the 1970s to the 1980s. Minutes from four meetings in 1998 and 1999 are also included. The minutes give glimpses into how the club functioned on a regular basis and contain information on the club's annual garden party. Among these materials are also some financial records such as receipts and audit reports. Folder 1 contains articles on the club, as well as a couple of miscellaneous articles that were collected by members. Copies of the club's bylaws can be found in Folder 8 and several essays on the club's history are in Folder 10. Among the photographs and scrapbook (photocopies) at the end of the box are pictures of the members themselves. The original scrapbook, which has been conserved and is in Box 2, was created to commemorate the club's 75th anniversary in 1989. Three pink fabric roses that were prominent during that celebration have been housed in Box 3. There are also corresponding certificates from the state of Pennsylvania and the city of Philadelphia commemorating the club on that occasion in Flat File 1.
Gift of the Viri Viginti Club of Philadelphia, 1989, 1991, 1999.
Accession numbers 1989-014, 1991-020, 1999-003, 1999-018
- African American men--Intellectual life--20th century
- African American men--Societies and clubs--History--20th century
- African American men--Societies, etc
- African Americans--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia--Societies, etc
- African Americans--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia
- Historical Society of Pennsylvania
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Cary Majewicz
- Finding Aid Date
- ; 2011
- Processing made possible by a generous donation from the Viri Viginti Club of Phladelphia.
- Access Restrictions
The collection is open for research.