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       North Jersey Branch history

On June 16, 1929 the North Jersey Branch was organized at the home of Mrs. Ellen Maury Hairston in Plainfield, New Jersey.  A group of Negro women in the northern part of the state had been called together by Mrs. Agnes Davis Durrah, a member of the National Association of College Women to meet to consider the advisability of forming a branch in this area.  Dean Lucy D. Slowe of Howard University, then President of the National Association of College Women, accepted the invitation to organize the branch.  Charter members were Mrs. Agnes Durrah, President, Mrs. Grace Wood, Secretary/Treasurer, Mrs. Ellen Mawry Hairston, Mrs. Olive Polk, Mrs. Pauline Puryear, Mrs. Ruth Doncaster Smith, and Dr. Myra Smith.  Others who became members soon thereafter were Mrs. Una Janifer, Mrs. Alice Archibald and Dr. Evelyn Lewis.  Membership in the North Jeresey Branch increased to over seventy-five in the first twenty five years of its existence.


From records on file, it appears that of the earlier branches organized, North Jersey did not have a "stop out" period.  It has been in existence since its inception.  Following are some of the programs and activities from those early years:


  • from 1937 discussion groups were held throughout the state wth prominent speakers

  • the branch sponsored an annual personal guidance conference for young girls and adult women in solving problems of hygiene, dress, speech and personality

  • the first scholarship awarded in its first year was to a student from Roselle, New Jersey to study at Howard University.

  • the branch was instrumental in bringing student art exhibit of Howard University to the Montclair YWCA

  • from its inception, the branch developed a strong link with the NAACP and the Urban League


Throughout the  years North Jersey branch members have been actively engaged in community service and contributing to the enrichment of their communities.  They have sponsored guidance programs, public meetings, Black History programs, local feeding programs for the homeless, visitation of patients in nursing homes, plays, student recitals and many fundraising and social activities.  The fundraising activities have enabled the branch to provide college scholarships to over 130 young people over the past 85 years.




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