Photo supplied by NYPL Schomberg Center
Three charter members of the New York Chapter: Vivienne Scott Melville, Phyllis Taylor Means and Ethel Harris Tate, in their finery walking on 127th Street in Harlem. ©NY Public Library
History of the Organization
© Schomberg Center, NY Public Library
The Northeasterners Inc. started as a social club in 1930. It was founded by Agatha Scott, wife of Brigadier General Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., in New York. The idea came to Mrs. Davis, who was impressed with the young African-American debutantes she met while visiting several cities. They all seemed to have similar interests and backgrounds. The idea caught on and several young women representing various states in the Northeast came together with the aim of keeping in touch with each other socially, keeping abreast of cultural trends and rendering service to the community.
Club records show various projects were organized to aid community and educational causes. Some of these include an annual scholarship to Howard University, contributions to the Infantile Paralysis Library Project at Tuskegee Institute, contributions to the NAACP, the Urban League, the United Negro College Fund and the American Cancer Society, among others.
Over the years, the group's membership has expanded, adding new chapters. The present organization is national in scope with a national constitution. The various chapters meet at an annual National Conclave held in different locations each year. The organization continues to grow, in the tradition of other African-American social organizations such as sororities and fraternities. It encourages young women to join and strive towards a standard of excellence and a commitment to community services. Originally, the name was the Gay Northeasterners. The organization voted to change its name in 1979.