The Girls Versatile Club of Troy, New York was organized in 1931 under the direction of Reverend H. D. White of the A.M.E. Zion Church "to strengthen religious ties, to find an outlet in good clean fun, and above all, to learn to live and play as well as work together as friends." The Club was formed following conflicts between the male and female members of the Elusion Club of the A.M.E. Zion Church of Troy. Reverend H. D. White advised the female members to form an all girl club, not restricted to members of the A.M.E. Zion Church, but to include any Troy girls who met moral and religious standards. In February 1947 the club adopted its present name, The Versatile Club.
In 1956 the Versatile Club restated its purpose "to further Christian aims and to strive always to make this community a better one because of the existence of the Versatile Club." The purpose of the club currently is the "Pleasure and Recreation of its Members & Civic Service." During the course of its existence the Versatile Club has contributed to church repairs, sponsored African American entertainers, provided scholarship support for members attending colleges, since the 1961 sponsored women's only "Ladies of Leisure & Career Womens Luncheons" which brought prominent women speakers to Troy including Muriel Jenkens, Ersa Poston, Shirley L. White and Dr. Dorothy Brown. The Club formed a junior Versatile Club to reach young children. The Versatile Club has given strong support to drives to fund research on Sickle Cell Anemia. The Club also sponsors trips and outings for its members.
The Versatile Club originally held its meetings every Monday night at the home of Club members, currently it holds monthly meetings at Bethel Baptist Church. The Club also holds an annual Palm Sunday church meeting rotating among the Bethel Baptist, Oakwood Presbyterian, and A.M.E. Zion Methodist churches.
The administrative officers of the club are a President, Vice President, Recording Secretary, Assistant Recording Secretary, Corresponding Secretary, Assistant Corresponding Secretary, Financial Secretary, Assistant Financial Secretary, Treasurer, Chaplain, and Assistant Chaplain. The Versatile Club's presidents have included: Jane Reese (1931-1981), Connie Gordon, Louise Byrd, Wilhamenia Simon, Carol Praylor, Irene Van Slyke, Patricia Hicks and and Catheryne Collington.
Contained in the records of the Versatile Club are official and draft minutes of meetings, memorabilia relating to social activities, by-laws, financial documents, photographs, and resumes/biographical sketches of club members covering the period from 1945 through 1988. Minutes of meetings from the 1930s and early 1940s were burned according to President Louise Byrd. A complete set of meeting minutes exists for the period, 1950-62, and 1981 - June 1988, while scattered draft minutes cover the period 1945-88. The official minutes from 1931-1949, July 1950-December 1950, and July 1962-March 1981 are missing.
Since the Versatile Club has operated primarily as a social club, the focus of its records relates to the social activities they sponsored from 1945-1988. Among the numerous entertainers the Versatile Club brought to Troy were Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Mary Lou Williams, Fat Man Robinson's Orchestra, and the pianist Dennie Carter. The rising cost of hiring entertainers forced the club to curtail its sponsorship of major bands in the late 1950s. The Versatile also sponsors African-American speakers, youth dances, fashion shows, and supports worthy charities such as the Girls Training School. The Club has a continuing interest in preserving a record of the underground railroad in Troy, and donated a plaque in honor Charles Nalle, an escaped slave who had been arrested under the fugitive slave act, and freed by a citizens riot in 1860.
The collection is organized into two boxes.
All items in this record group were donated to the University Libraries, M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, by the Versatile Club in February 1993. Two additional accessions were received from Carol Praylor, former president, in September 2004 and in September 2011.
Processed by: Shurawl Bryan
Collection record created by: This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on
Published: 2018-03-06 04:49:48 -0500
Encoded in EAD by Katy Sweet, 2013
Archival materials can be view in-person during business hours in our reading room, located on the top floor of the Science Library on the Uptown Campus.
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Access to this record group is unrestricted.
The researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming with the laws of copyright. Whenever possible, the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives will provide information about copyright owners and other restrictions, but the legal determination ultimately rests with the researcher. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be discussed with the Head of Special Collections and Archives.
Preferred citation for this material is as follows:
Identification of specific item, series, box, folder, Versatile Club Records, 1937-2011. M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University at Albany, State University of New York (hereafter referred to as [shortened name]).
|1||1||Anniversary Brochures, 25th, 50th and 80th||1956, 1982, 2011|
|1||2||Brown, Dorothy, News Clipping||ca. 2003|
|1||3||By-laws||1939, 1961, 1986, Undated|
|1||4||Charles Nalle Plaque, Photograph||Undated|
|1||6||Draft Meeting Minutes-Bound||November 1945-September 1955|
|1||7||Draft Meeting Minutes-Loose Pages||January 1951-April 1988|
|1||9||Installation Ceremony, Notes||Undated|
|1||10||Ladies of Leisure & Career Girls/Women Luncheon||1968-1990, Undated|
|1||12||Miscellaneous Notes and Correspondence||1987, Undated|
|1||13||News Clipping, Class'ique||March 2002|
|1||14||Official Meeting Minutes||June 1950-January 1955|
|2||1||Official Meeting Minutes||January 1955-June 1962|
|2||2||Official Meeting Minutes||April 1981-June 1988, 2002|
|2||4||Rensselaer County Legislature Resolution||2001|
|2||6||Social Activity Memorabilia||1937-1988|
|2||8||Thank You/Apology/Sympathy Cards||1951-1990, Undated|