Viri Viginti Club of Philadelphia records

Collection 3529

( Bulk, 1980-1985 ) 1962-2014
(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 gentlemen," 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, 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

Return to Table of Contents »

Scope and Contents note

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.

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 Philadelphia, 1989, 1991, 1999.

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

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, 2014) 

1 10

Return to Table of Contents »

Scrapbook [photocopies of pages] (1989) 

1 11

Return to Table of Contents »


Original scrapbook, rebound and conservation (1989) 


Return to Table of Contents »

3 pink fabric roses from 75th anniversary celebration (undated) 


Return to Table of Contents »


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


Return to Table of Contents »