Viri Viginti Club of Philadelphia records

Collection 3529

( Bulk, 1980-1985 ) 1962-1999
(0.4 Linear feet ; 1 box, 1 flat file)

Summary Information

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Viri Viginti Club of Philadelphia.
Viri Viginti Club of Philadelphia records
Date [bulk]
Bulk, 1980-1985
Date [inclusive]
0.4 Linear feet ; 1 box, 1 flat file
Finding aid prepared by Cary Majewicz
Processing made possible by a generous donation from the Viri Viginti Club of Phladelphia.
Mixed materials [Box]
Mixed materials [Oversize]
Latin for "twenty men," Viri Viginti is an African American social club founded in 1914 in Philadelphia. It is believed to be the oldest such organization in the city. This small collection of its records includes by-laws, membership lists, minutes, photographs, correspondence, clippings, and financial records.

Preferred Citation note

Cite as: [Indicate cited item or series here], Viri Viginti Club of Philadelphia records (Collection 3529), The Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

Return to Table of Contents »

Biographical/Historical note

In 1914, a group of twenty African American men began meeting on a regular basis to discuss current events and enjoy each other's company. Though these early meetings were very informal and purely social, the group eventually decided to call themselves the Viri Viginti Club, "viri viginti" being Latin for "twenty men." They created a constitution and by-laws and elected members to one-year terms as president, vice-president, secretary, and other offices. In addition to meetings, the group also planned regular dinners at which their discussions continued. By the 1960s, Viri Viginti met at least five times a year and held annual garden parties. Presidents of Viri Viginti have included Oliver Ramsey, Leon F. Martin, Benjamin Waters, and R. Allen Durrant. Viri Viginti is still active today and is believed to be Philadelphia's oldest African American social club.

Return to Table of Contents »

Scope and Contents note

The collection of records from the Viri Viginiti Club is housed in eleven folders in one box and primarily documents the clubs 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) are pictures of the members themselves. The scrapbook was created to commemorate the club's 75th anniversary in 1989, and there are corresponding certificates from the state of Pennsylvania and the city of Philadelphia commemorating the club on that occasion in Flat File 1.

Return to Table of Contents »

Administrative Information

Publication Information

 The Historical Society of Pennsylvania ; 2011

1300 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19107

Conditions Governing Access note

The collection is open for research.


Gift of the Viri Viginti Club of Philadelpha, 1989, 1991, 1999.

Accession numbers 1989-014, 1991-020, 1999-003, 1999-018

Processing Information note

A "magnetic" photograph album and two fabric flowers from the collection are currently in conservation. Once this work has been completed, these materials will be returned to the collection and the finding aid will be updated accordingly.

Return to Table of Contents »

Controlled Access Headings

Geographic Name(s)

  • Philadelphia (Pa.)--Societies, etc.


  • 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.

Return to Table of Contents »

Collection Inventory

Box Folder

Articles and programs (1962, 1984-1988, 1990, undated) 

1 1

Return to Table of Contents »

Financial records (1968-1984, 1990) 

1 2

Return to Table of Contents »

Mixed administrative and financial papers (1972-1978) 

1 3

Return to Table of Contents »

Members (1975-1989) 

1 4

Return to Table of Contents »

Mixed correspondence (1978-1985) 

1 5

Return to Table of Contents »

Minutes and reports (1978-1990, 1998-1999) 

1 6-7

Return to Table of Contents »

Bylaws and procedures (1980, 1985, 1991, undated) 

1 8

Return to Table of Contents »

Photographs (1985, undated) 

1 9

Return to Table of Contents »

History (1989) 

1 10

Return to Table of Contents »

Scrapbook [photocopies of pages] (1989) 

1 11

Return to Table of Contents »


Recognition from city and state on 75th anniversary (1989) 


Return to Table of Contents »