New Jersey Girl Friends
                                         Chapter History: 1932-2001

Since the late nineteenth century when the Black women’s club movement began with the National Association of Colored Women, thousands of women have known the value of uniting socially and civically. Women of color have united socially to expand beyond the domestic sphere and at the same time to show responsibility and commitment to their race and communities through the support of various charities.  In keeping with this proud tradition, the New Jersey Chapter of Girl Friends was organized in Westfield, New Jersey in 1932 with six members: Alberta Banks, who was elected president, Fannie Vick Berryman, Mattie Jones, Ivy Lambert, Eva Langston and Lillian Jones who eventually left the group.  (Lillian, the only surviving original member, now resides in Cranford.)

Sponsored by the Philadelphia Chapter, the budding New Jersey membership came from many different towns and counties, mostly representing the northern and central portions of the state.  Hence the name New Jersey Girl Friends was appropriate for this new, early chapter in the Girl Friends organization.  New Jersey is very proud to have had one of its charter members, Fannie Vick Berryman to be one of the signers of the "Certificate of Incorporation" in the year 1938.  With the legal guidance of Baltimore Boy Friend Thurgood Marshall, who was to become the first Black Justice on the Supreme Court, the Girl Friends organization was incorporated on September 23, 1938.  The first officers, including a New Jersey Girl Friend, were: Eunice Shreeves of New York, the National President; Alberta Banks of New Jersey who was elected the National Vice President; Elizabeth Young of Philadelphia became the National Secretary; and Dorothy Bostic of Baltimore was the National Treasurer.

Over the years, perhaps our Chapter's greatest contribution to Girl Friendom has been the sponsorship of several chapters, including Albany, Buffalo, Detroit and Trenton.  The membership of these chapters has been a welcome addition to our Girl Friend Family, contributing to friendliness, charm and growth within the organization and to extrinsic charitableness and community building.

Fondest Girl Friend memories and history hark back to the first conclave held in the home of GF Connie Cotterell in New York City.  New Jersey has been the proud sponsor of several conclaves in 1935, 1950 and again in 1977.  We have hosted one Executive Meeting and several Good Neighbor parties.

New Jersey has also sponsored one National President, Marie Carpenter, one Vice President, Rebecca Kingslow, two Secretaries, Marion West and Ivy Lambert and Carolyn Mitchell as Chatterbox Editor.

Although in the beginning our aims were primarily social, we have since contributed to a number of charitable and educational causes including the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Crossroads Theatre, the Urban League and many other groups too numerous to mention in a brief history.  Traditionally we’ve met on the first Saturday of every month, except January, July, August and September. Socially we have also enjoyed a number of lovely, exciting, and fun-filled affairs and have included our Boy Friends in most of the galas, picnics, etc.

The accomplishments of our members are in a wide array of medical, dental, secondary and higher education, legal, business and other areas.  Over the years we're proud to have taken in new younger members and daughters of Girl Friends.  The New Jersey Chapter is also proud to be continuing in its vital and integral role in a fine and growing organization that now has over 40 chapters throughout the United States.

In the elegant, delightful setting of the Short Hills Hilton Hotel, the New Jersey Chapter celebrated its 65th Anniversary on November 16th 1997 with the theme “Diamonds and Roses” and to the beat of the band, New York People.  Over 200 guests attended the afternoon affair.

More recently, in a pre-Millennium celebration, the Chapter hosted an afternoon gala on November 21st 1999 for over 300 guests at the Point Pleasant Yacht Club in Manasquan, New Jersey.  Such Chapter activities as the 65th Anniversary and pre-Millennium Gala of the New Jersey Girl Friends are indicative of the fun side of the Chapter. The real work for worthwhile charities and civic causes also continues to be a source of vitality for New Jersey Girl Friends.  The chapter supports local community charities and plans a major fund-raiser for a charity or foundation to be designated for November 2002.

Written by Chapter Historian
      06/2001                                                                                             Frankie Hutton-O’Meally, Ph.D.
                History  Web  Site
Top Row:     Marian Kinchelow, Daisy Douglas, Mattie Jones-D, Eva Langston-D,
                   Juanita Humphrey, Maxine Edwards-D, Carolyn Mitchell, Mary Burch,
                   Ruth McCarroll-D, Rhea Ashe-d, Ivy Lambert-D

Middle Row: Lela Thompson, Barbara Shelton, Lillian Jones, Barbara Cuyjet, Inell
                   Neals, Marbel  Wiley, Marian Wast-D

Front Row:   Avis Rei-D, Cynthia Sinclair-D, Claudia G.Burgess, Marie Carpentel-D
D - deceased)