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(title page) Some Efforts of American Negroes for Their Own Social Betterment. Report of an Investigation under the Direction of Atlanta University; Together with the Proceedings of the Third Conference for the Study of the Negro Problems, Held at Atlanta University, May 25-26, 1898.
Edited by W. E. Burghardt Du Bois, Ph. D.
Atlanta University Press
Atlanta University Publications No. 3
Call number E185.5 .A88 no. 1-5 (Rare Book Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
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The Corresponding Secretary of the Atlanta Conference will upon request undertake to furnish correspondents with information upon the Negro problems, so far as possible; or will point out such sources as exist, where data may be obtained. No charge will be made except for actual expenses incurred.
"The sky of brightest grey seems dark
To one whose sky was ever white,
To one who never knew a spark
Thro' all his life of love or light,
The greyest cloud seems overbright."
Atlanta University is an institution for the higher education of Negro youth. It seeks by maintaining a high standard of scholarship and deportment, to sift out and train thoroughly, talented members of this race to be leaders of thought and missionaries of culture among the masses.
Furthermore, Atlanta University recognizes that it is its duty as a seat of learning to throw as much light as possible upon the intricate social problems affecting these masses, for the enlightenment of its graduates and of the general public. It has therefore for the last three years sought to unite its own graduates, the graduates of similar institutions, and educated Negroes in general, throughout the South, in an effort to study carefully and thoroughly certain definite aspects of the Negro problems.
Graduates of Fisk University, Berea College, Lincoln University, Spelman Seminary, Howard University, the Meharry Medical College, and other institutions have kindly joined in this movement and added their efforts to those of the graduates of Atlanta, and have in the last three years helped to conduct three investigations: One in 1896 into the Mortality of Negroes in Cities; another in 1897 into the General Social and Physical Condition of 5,000 Negroes living in selected parts of certain Southern cities; finally, in 1898, inquiry has been made to ascertain what efforts Negroes are themselves making to better their social condition by means of organization.
The results of this last investigation are presented in this pamphlet. Next year some phases of the economic situation of the Negro will be studied. It is hoped that these studies will have the active aid and co-operation of all those who are interested in this method of making easier the solution of the Negro problems.
BY THE EDITOR.
--The aim of this study is to make a tentative inquiry into the organized life of American Negroes. It is often asked What is the Negro doing to help himself after a quarter century of outside aid? The main answers to this question hitherto have naturally recorded individual efforts in education, the accumulation of property and the establishment of homes. The real test, however, of the advance of any group of people in civilization is the extent to which they are able to organize and systematise their efforts for the common weal; and the highest expression of organized life is the organization for purely benevolent and reformatory purposes. An inquiry then into the organizations of American Negroes which have the social betterment of the mass of the race for their object, would be an instructive measure of their advance in civilization. To be of the highest value such an investigation should be exhaustive, covering the whole country, and recording all species of effort. Funds were not available for such an inquiry. The method followed therefore was to choose nine Southern cities of varying size and to have selected in them such organizations of Negroes as were engaged in benevolent and reformatory work. The cities from which returns were obtained were: Washington, D. C., Petersburg, Va., Augusta, Ga., Atlanta, Ga., Mobile, Ala., Bowling Green, Ky., Clarkesville, Tenn., Fort Smith, Ark., and Galveston, Tex. Graduates of Atlanta University, Fisk University, Howard University, the Meharry Medical College, and other Negro institutions co-operated in gathering the information desired.
No attempt was made to catalogue all charitable and reformatory efforts but rather to illustrate the character of the work being done by typical examples. In one case, Petersburg, Va., nearly all efforts of all kinds were reported in order to illustrate the full activity of one group. The report for one large city, Washington, was pretty full, although not exhaustive. In all of the other localities only selected organizations were reported. The returns being for the most part direct and reduced to a basis of actual figures seem to be reliable.
--It is natural that to-day the bulk of organized efforts of Negroes in any direction should centre in the Church. The Negro Church is the only social institution of the Negroes which started in the African forest and survived slavery; under the leadership of the priest and medicine man, afterward of the Christian pastor, the Church preserved in itself the remnants of African tribal life and became after emancipation the centre of Negro social life. So that to-day the Negro population of the United States is virtually divided into Church congregations, which are the real units of the race life. It is natural therefore that charitable and rescue work among Negroes should first
be found in the churches and reach there its greatest development. Of the 236 efforts and institutions reported in this inquiry, seventy-nine are churches.
Next in importance to churches come the Negro secret societies. When the mystery and rites of African fetishism faded into the simpler worship of the Methodists and Baptists, the secret societies rose especially among the Free Negroes as a substitute for the primitive love of mystery. Practical insurance and benevolence, always a feature of such societies, were then cultivated. Of the organizations reported ninety-two were secret societies--some, branches or imitations of great white societies, some original Negro inventions.
Both the above organizations have efforts for social betterment as activities secondary to some other main object. There are, however, many Negro organizations whose sole object is to aid and reform. First among these come the beneficial societies. Like the burial societies among the serfs of the Middle Ages, there arose early in the Nineteenth century among Free Negroes and slaves, organizations which did a simple accident and life insurance business, charging small weekly premiums. These beneficial organizations have spread until to-day there are many thousands of them in the United States. They are mutual benefit associations and are usually connected with churches. Of such societies twenty-six are returned in this report.
Coming now to more purely benevolent efforts we have reported twenty-one organizations and institutions of various sorts which represent distinctly the efforts of the better class of Negroes to rescue and uplift the unfortunate and vicious. Finally, we have a few instances of co-operative business effort reported which typify the economic efforts of the weak to find strength in unity. Let us review each of the classes.
The following table presents the returns of seventy-nine Negro churches in nine Southern cities; the queries sought to bring out especially the economic situation of these corporations, and their social and benevolent activity:
|WASHINGTON, D. C.||NAME.||Denomination.||Enrolled Members.||Active Members.||Value of Real Estate.||Indebtedness.||Religious Meetings Weekly.||Entertainm'nts per year.||Lectures, Lit'ry Exercises pr yr||Suppers and Socials per year.||Fairs per year.||Concerts per year|
|1||Mt. Carmel||Baptist||1,404||1,000||$26,000||$ 2,500||6||24||1|
|2||Y. P. Tabernacle||Baptist||40||40||7,000||750||3||12||6||4||2||4|
|7||Grace Chapel||A. M. E.||52||35||1,500||275||4||21||5||3||3|
|13||First W Washt'n||Baptist||700||700||16,000||4||4|
|14||Metropolitan||A. M. E.||800||500||90,000||24,000||5||30||4||1||5|
|16||Shorter's Chapel||A. M. E.||26||12||4,000||3||4||4|
|17||M. Wesley||AME, Z||500||200||50,000||7,500||5||20||50||2||1||1|
|21||Campbell.||A. M. E.||150||5,000||2,400||5||20|
|22||Miles Chapel||C. M. E.||207||90||24,000||16,000||4|
|23||St. Luke's||P. E||500||400||70,000||8,000||5||45||30||4||1||6|
|29||U. P. Temple||Congr'l||100||100||3,000||8||15||50||3||2|
|31||Mt. Zion.||M. E.||650||550||27,500||2,800||22||10||5||1||4|
|34||John Wesley||AME, Z||265||150||75,000||15,000||5||50||10||1||1||5|
|39||St. Matthew||Baptist||50||30||$ 800||$ 300||3||21||12||5||4|
|42||St. Stephen's||P. E.||111||80||3,500||100||5||12||2||4||6|
|47||Oak Street.||A. M. E.||400||250||23,000||1,515||6||25||10||10||6|
|WASHINGTON, D. C.|
|Other Entertainm'ts per yr.||No. of Church Organizations.||Literary Societies.||Benevolent Societies.||Missionary Societies.||Societies to aid Church.||Annual Income.||Annual Expense.||Expenditure for Charity.||Number of Persons Aided.||Work in Slums and Jails, etc.||REMARKS.|
|1||7||1||1||5||$ 2,406||$ 2,406||$288||10||Two workers.|
|3||12||2||5||2||3||4,000||3,800||250||Miss'n for jails.|
|13||3||3||*2,000||2,000||150||Owns 2 tenements||14||11||1||4||2||4||10,000||9,000||226||50||Some.||Has Asst. Pastor|
|15||12||1||1,500||1,000||200||250||Two churches have split off from this.|
|16||300||300||5||Visits to slums.|
|25||1||1||1||1,785||1,785||62||5||Receives $300 a year from A. M. A.|
|29||5||19||2||1||1,500||1,500||50||Much inst'l wk|
|33||3||6||1||1||4||1,226||1,500||75||25||Visits.||Receives $300 from A. M. A.|
|37||12||1||2||2||7||6,000||5,900||150||$1.25 a piece usually given charity applic'nts|
|38||13||2||4||1||6||4,500||4,425||400||100||Seven workers.||PETERSBURG, VA.|
|39||3||1||1||1||$ 250||$||$ 10||30|
|47||5||2||1||1||1||1,000||900||50||25||Mission.||Owns church, parsonage, mission house and tenement.|
* This probably does not include pastors' salary: the total income must be $4,000 or $5,000.
|Other Entertainm'ts per yr.||No. of Church Organizations.||Literary Societies.||Benevolent Societies.||Missionary Societies.||Societies to aid Church.||Annual Income.||Annual Expense.||Expenditure for Charity.||Number of Persons Aided.||Work in Slums and Jails, etc.||REMARKS.|
|51||3||1||1||1||$ 3,000||$ 2,400||$ 3||Irregular|
|54||3||2||1||1,000||1,000||50||20||BOWLING GREEN, KY.|
|55||4||1||1||1||$ 500||$ 450||$ 7||6||Some.|
|58||6||$ 1,500||$ 1,400||$600||75||Visits.|
|59||1||4||6,214||6,214||387||200||Twelve visits.||Value par. $1,500; organ, $1,000.|
|61||4||2||2||2||425||425||25||10||$300 from A.M.A.||FORT SMITH, ARK.|
|62||1||1||1||1||1||$ 1,059||$ 1,059||$150||25|
|65||3||1||3||1||$ 1,200||$ 1,200||$300||10||Eight visits.|
|66||2||1||1,250||1,230||150||75||Visit hospitals. monthly.|
|68||3||1||1||1||1,550||1,500||300||125||Ten visits||Parish school.||CLARKESVILLE, TENN.|
|69||3||1||1||2||1||$ 2,000||$ 2,000||$ 75||15||ATLANTA, GA.|
|70||5||1||2||1||1||$ 2,000||$ 1,800||$200||20||Some.||Publishes paper.|
|72||1||3,000||1500||Some.||Two missions and Home for Aged.|
|AUGUSTA, GA.||NAME.||Denomination.||Enrolled Members.||Active Members.||Value of Real Estate.||Indebtedness.||Religious Meetings Weekly.||Entertainm'nts per year.||Lectures. Lit'ry Exercises pr yr||Suppers and Socials per year.||Fairs per year.||Concerts per year.|
|52||Bethel||A. M. E.||500||200||20,000||3,600||8||37||10||12||10|
|54||Central||Baptist||656||200||15,000||150||3||8||5||2||4||BOWLING GREEN, KY.|
|55||College Street||C. Pres.||130||74||$ 2,800||$||4||5|
|56||Taylor's Chapel||A. M. E.||183||120||5,000||800||4||25||8||7||10|
|57||State Street||Baptist||850||600||1,500||4||24||6||5||5||6||MOBILE, ALA.|
|58||Zion||A. M. E.||750||650||$ 7,450||$ 700||5||3||12|
|59||State Street||AME, Z||1,000||800||18,000||4||5||52||4||1|
|60||Bethel.||A. M. E.||420||300||5,000||75||5||25||8||6||2|
|61||First.||Congr'l||125||100||3,000||3||12||1||FORT SMITH, ARK.|
|62||I. W. Burns||C.M.E.||140||75||$ 2,000||7||25||52||19||1||6|
|64||Quinn Chapel||A. M. E.||250||200||5,000||2||GALVESTON, TEX.|
|65||Macedonia||Baptist||500||250||$ 7,000||$ 150||4||24||24||5|
|66||Reedy Chapel||A. M. E.||427||304||20,000||1,207||4||4||13||2||5|
|67||Frank Gary||M. E.||300||200||9,500||6||24||4||1||1|
|68||St. Augustine||P. E.||300||185||13,000||2,200||3||3||2||CLARKESVILLE, TENN.|
|69||St. Peter's Chap.||A. M. E.||323||225||$20.000||$ 263||6||6||24||4||ATLANTA, GA.|
|73||Bethel||A. M. E.||1,350|
|74||Lloyd Street.||M. E.||800|
|75||Allen Temple.||A. M. E.||595|
This table may be summarized as follows:
|Number of Churches reported||79|
|Number of Denominations reported||9|
|African Methodist Episcopal||14|
|African Methodist Episcopal Zion||4|
|Colored Methodist Episcopal||5|
|Methodist Episcopal||6--29 Churches.|
|Protestant Episcopal||3 Churches.|
|Total enrolled members||42,631|
|Active members, less than||30,000|
|Value of real estate owned, 67 churches reporting||$1,542,460 00|
|Reported indebtedness||295,114 00|
|Total annual income||157,678 00|
|Total recorded expenditure in local charity (65 churches reporting)||8,906 68|
|Number of missionary and benevolent societies reported||123|
|Number of persons directly aided so far as reported (36 churches)||1,422||GENERAL BENEVOLENT AND REFORMATORY ACTIVITY.|
|Some irregular work in slums, jails, etc||8 Churches.|
|Considerable irregular work in slums, jails, etc||2 Churches.|
|1 mission established in slums.||3 Churches.|
|3 missions established in slums||1 Churches.|
|Regular visits to slums||3 Churches.|
|Mission for jails||1 Churches.|
|2 regular workers in missionary and benevolent work||1 Churches.|
|1 regular worker||1 Churches.|
|3 regular workers||1 Churches.|
|7 regular workers||1 Churches.|
|Regular institutional work||1 Churches.|
|8 visits a year||1 Churches.|
|12 visits a year||1 Churches.|
|10 visits a month and parish school.||1 Churches.|
|Visits to hospitals with food||1 Churches.|
|Home for aged and two missions||1 Churches.|
These returns do not give an account of all of the benevolent work of Negro Churches; much is done by individuals, and perhaps the larger part of the charity is entirely unsystematic and no record is kept of it. Some needy person or cause appeals to a congregation. Immediately in a whirl of sympathy or enthusiasm a collection is taken up and the money given, although no official record remains of the deed. So, too, the distress of the needy is often relieved by neighbors through notices given in the church. While, then, these returns do not indicate the whole benevolent activity of churches, yet they do give an idea of the orderly systematic work of the more business-like organizations.
A better idea of the activity of Negro Churches will be obtained, perhaps, if we tabulate the income and charitable expenditure of such churches as give $100 or more annually in charity.
|No.||PLACE.||DENOMINATION.||Annual income.||Annual expenditure in charity.||Per cent. of Income expended in charity.|
* This church is building a Home for the Aged, so that this is extraordinary expenditure.
--Nineteen other churches give between $50 and $100 a year, and thirty-three churches either give less than $50 or make no returns. Probably most of these give considerable in an unsystematic way.
Some individual churches present noticeable peculiarities. One Congregational Church "is doing a varied work along institutional lines." In
a Methodist Church "the Wayside Gatherers have a mission for assisting the denizens of slums and jails." Another Methodist Church has "a committee to visit the jail every week." A Baptist Church has the interest from a fund, amounting to $150 each year, set aside for the poor; "We only give them enough to buy medicines and, at times, fuel, never appropriating more than $1.25 to each." Another large Baptist Church, with 800 active members, reports a detailed budget:
|Total income||$5,714.09||Total expense: Build'g and improvements||$2,840 00|
|Sunday-school Charity:||132 00|
|Church poor||$236 00|
|Educat'n of Min'strs||32 52|
|Miscellaneous.||134 00 432 66|
|Pastor's salary and other church expenses||1,871 77|
|Balance on hand||437 66|
One Baptist Church in Petersburg, Va., conducts an orphanage, and another in Atlanta is erecting a home for the aged at a cost of $6,000. Whites have contributed considerably to this latter enterprise, but much of it has been done by Negroes.
From this data it is clear that Negro Churches are becoming centres of systematic relief and reformatory work of Negroes among themselves. At present the actual expenditure of the organized agencies is not large compared with the income of the churches; but when we remember that the members of these churches are largely poor working people, with little business training, and that much of the unorganized and spasmodic work is unrecorded it seems that the work being done is both commendable and by no means insignificant in amount.
--Ninety-two lodges, belonging to nine different secret societies, were reported, although these by no means cover all existent lodges in the cities studied. Those reporting were:
|Grand United Order of Odd Fellows||38 Lodges.|
|Ancient Order of Free and Accepted Masons||13 Lodges.|
|Grand United Order of True Reformers||12 Fountains.|
|International Order of Good Samaritans, etc||8 Unions.|
|J. R. Giddings and Jollifee Union||8 Tents.|
|Independent Order of St. Luke||7 Councils.|
|Ancient Sons, etc., of Israel||3 Tabernacles.|
|Knights of Pythias||2 Lodges.|
|Knights of Tabor||1 Lodge.|
|9 Orders||92 Organizations.|
Of these the Odd Fellows, Masons and Knights of Pythias are simliar organizations to those among white people but are not directly affiliated with them. The Negro Masons of the United States, for instance, sprung from a lodge of Boston Negroes who received their charter from England. Most of the other orders seem to be Negro inventions purely, and form curious and instructive organizations. Their main function is insurance against. sickness and death, the aiding of the widows and orphans of their deceased members, and social intercourse. Their activity and condition in detail is given in Table II.
|PLACE.||NAME.||ORDER.||Members.||Active Members.||Investments in Real Estate and other Property.||Cash on Hand.||Total Annual Income.||Source Thereof.||Total Sick Benefits.||Total Death Benefits||No. of Persons Aided.|
|Washington, D. C.||Peter Ogden||Odd Fellows.||112||102||$ 1,040 00||$250 00||$||Dues.||$175 00||$275 00||10|
|Washington, D. C.||Star of the West||Odd Fellows.||84||69||1,000 00||23 00||Dues.||277 00||256 25||12|
|Washington, D. C.||Bloom of Youth||Odd Fellows.||102||87||12,000 00||150 00||Dues.||133 00||207 00||17|
|Washington, D. C.||Rising Sun||Odd Fellows.||76||68||500 00||147 00||Dues.||901 00||195 00||16|
|Washington, D. C.||Free Grace||Odd Fellows.||109||100||14 20||694 00||Dues.||146 46||310 07||16|
|Washington, D. C.||Mount Olive||Odd Fellows.||85||75||14 46||81 00||Dues.||218 80||237 00||33|
|Washington, D. C.||John F. Cook||Odd Fellows.||78||49||607 07||71 00||Dues.||101 15||208 00||12|
|Washington, D. C.||Eastern Star||Odd Fellows.||68||41||870 09||391 00||Dues.||77 00||147 00||17|
|Washington, D. C.||Potomac Union||Odd Fellows.||90||64||326 27||59 00||Dues.||324 00||191 00||5|
|Washington, D. C.||Union Friendship||Odd Fellows.||70||62||880 00||333 00||Dues.||45 05||90 00||11|
|Washington, D. C.||Progressive Lodge||Odd Fellows.||55||55||228 00||Dues.|
|Washington, D. C.||Corinthian.||Odd Fellows.||58||38||96 00||Dues.||75 50||147 40|
|Washington, D. C.||Golden Reef||Odd Fellows.||71||60||909 90||148 00||Dues.||12 00||15 00||3|
|Washington, D. C.||A. K. Manning||Odd Fellows.||95||77||800 00||Dues.||78 00||80 00||14|
|Washington, D. C.||Traveling Pilgrim||Odd Fellows.||33||20||105 00||34 00||Dues.||23 50||5|
|Washington, D. C.||W. A. Freeman||Odd Fellows.||107||93||1,769 00||451 00||Dues.||171 00||237 00||18|
|Washington, D. C.||Osceola||Odd Fellows.||78||69||275 00||12 00||Dues.||75 00||39 00||11|
|Washington, D. C.||Union Light||Odd Fellows.||70||60||700 00||192 00||Dues.||99 05||71 15||9|
|Washington, D. C.||Social||Odd Fellows.||89||81||900 00||220 00||Dues.||117 05||120 00||15|
|Washington, D. C.||Rose Hill||Odd Fellows.||73||70||338 40||88 14||Dues.||45 25||177 25||8|
|Washington, D. C.||Old Ark||Odd Fellows.||136||128||1,509 45||115 00||Dues.||281 22||44 75||14|
|Washington, D. C.||Simon||Odd Fellows.||120||105||600 00||Dues.||207 85||180 00||27|
|Washington, D. C.||Green Mountain||Odd Fellows.||102||79||1,000 00||128 00||Dues.||289 74||98 03||11|
|Washington, D. C.||J. McCrummell||Odd Fellows.||107||75||100 00||45 00||Dues.||195 85||237 00||19|
|Washington, D. C.||Western Star||Odd Fellows.||47||42||378 30||245 00||Dues.||96 65||100 00||11|
|Washington, D. C.||Columbia||Odd Fellows.||57||52||700 00||93 00||Dues.||64 71||120 00||2|
|Petersburg, Va.||Taylor's Fountain||True Reformers||43||43||180 60||Dues & asses||12 50||10|
|Petersburg, Va.||Christoe's Fountain||True Reformers||18||15||90 00||Dues.||12 00||4|
|Petersburg, Va.||Cedar Leaf||True Reformers||32||29||160 00||Dues & asses||16 00||14|
|Petersburg, Va.||Sheba Lodge||Masons.||45||30||700 00||100 00||Dues.||10 00||6|
|Petersburg, Va.||Virginia Lodge||Masons.||15||16||300 00||30 00||5 00|
|Petersburg, Va.||Bethel||True Reformers||47||47||195 87||Dues & taxes||20 50||9|
|PLACE.||NAME.||ORDER.||Members.||Active Members.||Investments in Real Estate and other Property.||Cash on Hand.||Total Annual Income.||Source Thereof.||Total Sick Benefits.||Total Death Benefits||No. of Persons Aided.|
|Petersburg, Va.||Gethsemane||Giddings||45||45||$||$||$163 80||Dues & taxes||$ 12 00||3|
|Petersburg, Va.||Keystone Fountain||True Reform'rs||72||72||350 00||Dues & taxes||77 00||$375 00||23|
|Petersburg, Va.||Green Bay||St. Luke||45||43||154 80||Dues & taxes||6 00||2|
|Petersburg, Va.||Friendly.||Masons||17||15||45 00||Dues & taxes|
|Petersburg, Va.||Mt. Olive||True Reform'rs||16||16||80 00||Dues.||20 00||8|
|Petersburg, Va.||H. O. Johnson.||Samaritans||10||10||29 42||30 80||Dues & taxes|
|Petersburg, Va.||Sarah's||Giddings||39||38||85 15||Dues.||19 50||2|
|Petersburg, Va.||St. James||Israel.||20||20||60 00||Dues.||4 50||3|
|Petersburg, Va.||Jerusalem||Masons||30||30||500 00||135 00||Dues.||24 00||60 00||8|
|Petersburg, Va.||Pocahontas||Masons||18||18||750 00||50 00||Rent & dues||10 00||30 00||2|
|Petersburg, Va.||Abraham||Masons||19||19||500 00||119 50||Dues||27 75||60 00||5|
|Petersburg, Va.||United Sons of the Morning.||Odd Fellows.||84||76||1,400 00||320 00||Dues & rents||102 50||50 00||18|
|Petersburg, Va.||Mahala's||Giddings||16||16||55 00||Dues & taxes||20 00||1|
|Petersburg, Va.||Leah's||Giddings||28||28||87 36||Dues.||12 00||5|
|Petersburg, Va.||Shiloh Rosebud||True Reform'rs||19||19||37 61||Dues.||29 00|
|Petersburg, Va.||Rose Bud Fountain.||True Reform'rs||26||26||45 00||Dues & taxes||21 20|
|Petersburg, Va.||Rosebuds||True Reform'rs||14||14||42 00||Dues.||15 80|
|Petersburg, Va.||Randolph||True Reform'rs||96||96||340 29||Dues.||60 00||250 00||20|
|Petersburg, Va.||King Solomon's||Israel.||42||42||130 20||Dues.||21 00||7|
|Petersburg, Va.||Samuel's||Israel.||28||28||86 80||Dues.||6 00||2|
|Petersburg, Va.||Abigail Tent||Giddings||25||25||66 00||Dues.||5 50||3|
|Petersburg, Va.||Mt. Ararat||St. Luke||21||21||78 02||Dues.||8 50||5|
|Petersburg, Va.||Charity||Samaritans||30||30||300 00||100 00||Dues & fines||40 00||75 00|
|Petersburg, Va.||Eureka||St. Luke.||23||23||82 80||Dues & fines||7 60||4|
|Petersburg, Va.||Mt. Lebanon||St. Luke.||15||15||60 20||Dues.||1 00||14 55|
|Petersburg, Va.||St. Mary's||St. Luke.||20||20||72 00||18 00||20 00||7|
|Petersburg, Va.||Mt. Carmel||St. Luke.||19||19||70 68||Dues & fines||10 00||45 00||5|
|Petersburg, Va.||Sheba.||St. Luke.||16||16||57 60||Dues & fines||4 50||3|
|Petersburg, Va.||St. Joseph||Odd Fellows.||57||57||2,800 00||196 00||Dues & fines||28 50||6|
|Petersburg, Va.||Roxeillas||Giddings||23||23||74 40||Dues & fines||10 50||10 00||4|
|Petersburg, Va.||Hannah||Giddings||35||35||113 40||Dues & fines||22 00||9|
|Petersburg, Va.||Shiloh||True Reform'rs||53||53||265 00||Dues & fines||19 57||37 73||2|
|Petersburg, Va.||Dinwiddie||True Reform'rs||34||34||170 00||27 00||15|
|Petersburg, Va.||Queen Esther.||Giddings||41||35||105 00||Dues & fines||25 00||80 00||15|
|Petersburg, Va.||Eureka||Masons||25||20||200 00||95 00||50 00||75 00||10|
|Petersburg, Va.||Weldone||Odd Fellows.||18||18||90 00||Dues & fines||15 00||4|
|Fort Smith, Ark.||Knight of Tab'r||81||81||400 00||300 00||Dues, picnic||91 73||120 00|
|Fort Smith, Ark.||Widow's Son||Masons||52||40||One lot||300 00||Rent, etc.||300 00||200 00||4|
|Fort Smith, Ark.||Matier.||Odd Fellows.||52||49||3,000 00||800 00||Dues.||200 00||100 00||25|
|PLACE.||NAME.||ORDER.||Members.||Active Members.||Investments in Real Estate and other Property.||Cash on Hand.||Total Annual Income.||Source Thereof.||Total Sick Benefits.||Total Death Benefits.||No. of Persons Aided.|
|Mobile, Ala.||Crystal Fountain||Samaritans||580||580||$9,000 00||$||$2,700 00||Dues.||$630 00||$500 00|
|Mobile, Ala.||Golden Gate|
|Mobile, Ala.||Sparkling Water|
|Mobile, Ala.||Star of Hope|
|Mobile, Ala.||Ark of Safety|
|Odd Fellows||300||300||50 00||1,260 00||Dues.||300 00||Mobile, Ala.||Bethel|
|K. of P||56||40||150 00||Dues, picnic||36 00||12||Clarkesville, Tenn.||Mt. Vernon|
|Odd Fellows||35||29||500 00||210 00||Dues.||48 00||7||Bowling Green, Ky||Mt. Calvary|
|Odd Fellows||27||19||400 00||150 00||Dues.||20 00||4||Atlanta, Ga.||Rising Sun|
|Masons||75||75||900 00||250 00||Dues.||Atlanta, Ga.||Crystal|
|Masons||80||25||150 00||Dues.||Atlanta, Ga.||Rising Sun|
|Masons||80||50||50 00||Dues.||20 00||15 00||Atlanta, Ga.||Richard Allen|
|Knights of P.||60||50||Dues.||50 00||Atlanta, Ga.||Plymouth|
|Masons||40||37||240 00||Dues.||16 50||3 00||Atlanta, Ga.||St. James, No. 4|
|Masons||62||37||325 00||Dues.||10 00||3 00||Atlanta, Ga.||Star of the South|
|Odd Fellows.||65||60||360 00||Dues.||Atlanta, Ga.||Pride of Georgia|
|Odd Fellows.||175||165||One lot||990 00||Dues.||Atlanta, Ga.||St. James.|
|Odd Fellows.||140||130||780 00||Dues.||Atlanta, Ga.||Fulton Enterprise|
|Odd Fellows.||160||140||840 00||Dues.||Atlanta, Ga.||Love of Freedom.|
|Odd Fellows.||72||65||390 00||Dues.|
A summary of this table can be made as follows:
|Total value of investments in real estate and other property||*$49,073 05|
|Total cash on hand||4,651 40|
|Annual income||16,060 62|
|For sick benefits||$6,960 98|
|For death benefits||5,934 78 $12,895 76|
|Total numbr of persons aided last year||612.|
* Plus two unvalued lots.
Some facts about certain societies are of interest: One lodge of the Giddings Order in Petersburg, Va., has been organized 23 years, and is composed entirely of women; another lodge in the same place describes its work as consisting of "relief given to widows and children, and the education of minors." One lodge of Masons in the same place was organized in 1867, and a lodge of Odd Fellows in 1866. Of a lodge of Masons in Clarkesville, Tenn., it is said: "Most of the members own their own homes;" the lodge has spent "$10,000 for burials and sick dues since organization," September 28, 1874, or an average of over $700 a year. They own a lot and expect to build a hall on it soon. Another Petersburg lodge of the Giddings Union assesses each member $1 a year to support an Old Folks' Home for the general order. One Odd Fellows' Lodge in Mobile has been organized fifty-five years, that is, since 1843. Both Masons and Odd Fellows in Fort Smith. Ark., own halls, two stories in height, with stores below, which are rented out.
We have here a kind of an organization which contrasts sharply with the churches, considered as business enterprises. First, it demands a higher average of intelligence and thrift in its membership, and more quiet, business-like persistence along selected lines of effort. The process of social selection has consequently made the group much smaller than the church organization, averaging fifty and sixty members, and having in no case over 175 members. These smaller and more compact groups do not handle as much money as the churches, but by arranging regular sources of income and carefully calculating expenses they use their funds more effectively. The secrecy and ritual of these lodges is not without a certain social value. It attracts members, and then, too, it allows the establishment of a hierarchy of authority, which does away, to some extent, with the democratic freedom of the church; thus the more competent (and at times, it must be confessed, more unscrupulous), get a chance to guide and rule. The main practical objects of these societies are life and sickness insurance, and social intercourse. They represent the saving, banking spirit among the Negroes and are the germ of commercial enterprise of a purer type.
On the other hand, the secret societies represent much extravagance and waste in expenditure, an outlay for regalia and tinsel, which too often lack the excuse of being beautiful, and to some extent they divert the savings of Negroes from more useful channels.
--The beneficial society sprang directly from the church organizations and has developed in four characteristic directions. First, by taking on ritual, oaths and secrecy it became the secret society just mentioned. Secondly, by emphasizing and enlarging the beneficial and insurance feature and substituting a board of directors for general membership control, many of these societies coalesced into, or were replaced by, insurance societies. Thirdly, the training in business methods thus received is now, in an increasing number of cases leading to co-operative business enterprise. Fourthly, the distribution of aid and succor tended to pass beyond the immediately contributing members, and become pure charity in the shape of Homes, Asylums and Benevolent Societies of various sorts.
In number of organizations the secret societies outstripped the benevolent societies, while the others naturally are still but partially developed. Nevertheless the beneficial society antedates emancipation; some now in existence are fifty years old or more, and others now extinct can be traced back to the Eighteenth century.
These societies, of all kinds, sizes and states of efficiency, are still very numerous. Take, for instance, Petersburg, Va. There alone we have reports from twenty-two, as follows:
|NAME.||When Organized.||No. Members||Assessments per Year.||Total Annual Income.||Sick and Death Benefits.||Cash and Property.|
|1||Young Men's||1884||40||$7 00||$ 275 00||$ 150 00||$ 175 00|
|2||Sisters of Friendship, etc.*||22||3 00||68 55||43 78|
|3||Union Working Club||1893||15||3 00||45 00||23 00|
|4||Sisters of Charity||1884||17||3 00||51 00||30 00|
|5||Ladies' Union||1896||47||3 00||135 00||128 25|
|6||Beneficial Association||1893||163||*25c. 5 20||1,005 64||808 46||440 00|
|7||Daughters of Bethlehem||39||*12c. 3 00||129 48||110 04|
|8||Loving Sisters||1884||16||*25c. 3 00||22 50||30 50||62 00|
|9||Ladies' Working Club||1888||37||*12c. 3 00||95 11||52 65||214 09|
|10||St. Mark.||1874||28||*12c. 3 00||84 00||32 00||150 00|
|11||Consolation||1845||26||*12c. 3 00||68 00||27 00||100 00|
|12||Daughters of Zion||1867||22||*12c. 3 00||66 00||40 00||36 00|
|13||Young Sisters of Charity.||1869||30||*12c. 3 00||90 00||30 00||100 00|
|14||Humble Christian||1868||26||*12c. 3 00||68 00||35 50||75 00|
|15||Sisters of David||1885||30||3 00||90 00||60 00||120 00|
|16||Sisters of Rebeccah||1893||40||3 00||120 00||85 00||175 00|
|17||Petersburg||1872||29||*12½c. 3 00||85 00||11 00||99 53|
|18||Petersburg Beneficial||1892||35||*50c. 5 20||182 00||158 00||118 00|
|19||1st Baptist Church Ass'n||1893||100||60||60 00||40 00||80 00|
|20||Young Men's||1894||44||*25c. 3 00||211 00||202 25||100 00|
|21||Oak St. Church Society||1894||38||1 20||42 60||112 63||50 00|
|22||Endeavor, etc||1894||98||3 00||120 00||96 00||43 00|
|Total||942||$3,113 88||$2,177 81||$2,275 87|
* Organized before the war.
*Assessment upon each member in case any member dies.
Returns from other places are not so full, not because of the lack of such societies, but because of the difficulty of getting exact reports from them. They are small, have no public office and must be searched for. Probably there are at least one hundred such societies in the nine cities. Some are small and weak, others flourishing. Of the latter class the condition of six typical ones is given in the next table.
|PLACE.||NAME.||When Organized.||Number Members.||Assessments per Year.||Total Annual Income.||Sick and Death Benefits.||Cash and Property.|
|Galveston, Tex||Daughters of Rebecca||1866||53||$ 12 00||$ 900||$ 800||$3,000|
|Augusta, Ga.||Trinity Moral Reform||1850||240||1 00||960||500||100|
|Augusta, Ga.||Union Relief||1894||100||1 20||800||300||1,000|
|Augusta, Ga.||Young Mutual||1886||475||661||498||87|
|Atlanta, Ga||Helping Hand||1879||50||140||100||1 lot.|
|Atlanta, Ga||Coachman's Benefit||1896||40||240|
The business methods of beneficial societies are extremely simple. A group of mutually known persons, members of the same church or neighbors, unite in an organization and agree to pay weekly 25 cents or more into a common treasury; a portion of the fund thus secured is paid to any member who may be taken sick, and, too, the other members in such case give their services in caring for the sick one. In case a member dies each of the other members is assessed from 12½ to 50 cents--usually 25 cents--in addition to their regular fee, to help defray funeral expenses. This simple and safe insurance business has everything to commend it as a method of self-help, and it has without doubt had much to do with the social education of the Negro, both before and since emancipation.
The indications are that ten or fifteen years ago the number of these societies was twice as great as at present. Over half of those reported in this inquiry were established before 1890, and are probably survivals of a very large number of enterprises. The insurance societies have come in to replace the activities of these societies, and the change, while indicating higher economic development, is at present having many disastrous results. The impulse towards insurance societies was given by the large number of white societies organized to defraud and exploit the Negroes. Everywhere the Freedman is noted for his effort to ward off accident and a pauper's grave by insurance against sickness and death. In New York city a canvass of one slum district showed that 15% of the Negro fathers and 52% of the mothers
belonged to insurance societies.* *Laidlaw, 2nd Sociological Canvass, 1897. *DuBois, The Philadelphia Negro.
In Philadelphia the situation is similar, although the disparity between the sexes is not so great.*
So, too, throughout the South the operations of these societies has been wide-spread. Partly in self-defence therefore,
*Laidlaw, 2nd Sociological Canvass, 1897.
*DuBois, The Philadelphia Negro.
and partly in obedience to a natural desire to unite small economic efforts into larger, the Negro insurance societies began to arise about 1890, and now have throughout the country a membership running into the hundred thousands. Some of the secret societies are in reality insurance societies with a ritual to make membership more attractive. The True Reformers' order, for instance, was started in Richmond, Va., not over fifteen years ago; it now extends widely over the East and South, owns considerable real estate and conducts a banking and annual premium insurance business at Richmond.
Three typical Virginia insurance societies are the Workers' Mutual Aid Association, the Colored Mutual Aid Association and the United Aid and Insurance Company. The Workers' Mutual Aid Association was organized in 1894. It is conducted by twelve stockholders and has two salaried officers, besides the agents. It claims 10,053 members, an annual income of $3,600, and sick and death benefits paid during the year to the amount of $1,700. It owns property to the amount of $550. Its rates of insurance are as follows:
|Weekly Premiums.||Weekly Sick Benefits.||Death Benefits.|
|$ 05||$1 25||$ 17 00|
|10||2 00||35 00|
|15||2 75||45 00|
|20||3 50||55 00|
|25||4 25||65 00|
|30||5 00||75 00|
|35||5 75||85 00|
|40||6 50||95 00|
|45||7 25||105 00|
|50||8 00||115 00|
The agent reporting declares: "This class of enterprises do well, but the great drawback is they are too numerous, and it is hard to find young men who are willing to do the work necessary to make them a success; and then the class who are willing to take hold honestly, is at a very grea premium." The headquarters of this association is in Petersburg, Va.
The Colored Mutual Aid Association was organized in 1895; the number of stockholders is sixteen; the number of salaried officers, three; the number of members, 5,000; the total annual income, $1,172 82; the total expenditures for sick and death benefits, $800. The rates of insurance are:
|Weekly premiums.||Weekly Sick Benefits.||Death Benefits.|
|$ 05||$ 1 50||$ 15 00|
|10||3 25||35 00|
|15||3 50||40 00|
|20||4 50||50 00|
|25||5 25||60 00|
|30||6 00||75 00|
|35||7 00||85 00|
|40||8 00||95 00|
|45||9 00||100 00|
|50||10 00||115 00|
The United Aid and Insurance Company, according to its report, "was organized in Richmond, Va., four years ago; we have a total membership of 21,500 members. We are doing business in all the cities of this State and also in some other States. The financial condition of the company is good; it pays all claims promptly." The company occupies its own building in Richmond.
The membership of these societies is naturally much smaller than reported, but nevertheless it is large. The insurance charged is of course very high. A thousand dollar life policy costs about $250 a year premium, against $30 to $40 for a middle aged man in the
regular life insurance companies.* * Mutual Benefit Life Ins. Co.'s rate for a man of 45 is $37.42.
This high rate is to cover the weekly benefits in case of sickness, and as there is no age classification and practically no medical examination, it represents the gambler's risk. Such business, of course, opens wide the door for cheating on both sides. The educational value of conducting these enterprises is, among the Negroes, very great, and considering their lack of business training, the experiment has been quite successful. On the part of the insured, the old beneficial society was a more wholesome method of saving. The insurance society savors too much of gambling and discourages the savings bank habit.
* Mutual Benefit Life Ins. Co.'s rate for a man of 45 is $37.42.
--There are undoubted proofs that the native Africans, or at least most Negro tribes, are born merchants and trafickers, and can drive good bargains even with Europeans. Little trace of this, however, survived the fire of American slavery. Communism in goods, abolition of private property, and absolute dependence on the master for daily bread almost completely robbed the slaves of all thought of economic initiative. Business enterprise would therefore be the last form of activity which we might expect to see recover from the effects of slavery, even under normal conditions. The situation to-day is, however, abnormal, from the fact that the white South is making unusual strides in commercial life, and so no sooner has the Negro learned something of the business methods about him than further advance on the part of the community has rendered them obsolete.
There are two ways in which a primitive folk may establish co-operative business effort: First, by the establishment of private business enterprise and then combining the single businesses into one joint stock company; or by beginning directly with co-operation and either developing into a less democratic form of directorship, or disintegrating into private enterprises. Negro co-operation has thus far been largely of the latter type. For instance: Opposite the campus of the Atlanta University has stood for a long time an unsightly old tumble-down dwelling. Last year a small group of Negroes bought it; they met for awhile in it; formed an organization, moved the building back and prepared to build. By regular contributions they began a fund which supported a leader with a salary. They hired laborers and masons from their own number, and with their own labor have now nearly finished a tasteful brick building. This organization was a church, but its activity has been so far co-operative business, democratic in direction and peculiarly successful. From such enterprises sprang the beneficial societies, and to-day slowly
and with difficulty is arising real co-operative business enterprise detached from religious activity or insurance. On the other hand, private business enterprise has made some beginning, and in a few cases united into joint stock enterprises. It will be years, however, before this kind of business is very successful.
Indeed, all co-operation in business among Negroes is as yet in the experimental stage. For that reason it is especially mentioned in this study, since it represents not so much private gain as social effort for the good of the group. Of the fifteen enterprises reported in the next table, probably not more than ten are at present paying enterprises, and some of these are only moderately successful. The rest are either just making ends meet, with a prospect of future growth, or are tottering and destined to fail. The cities reporting are not in all cases identical with the nine which sent in the other reports; of those only four reported co-operative business. The reports are as follows:
|PLACE.||NAME.||Organized.||Nature of Business.||Capital.||Members, Partn'rs or Stock holders.||Real Estate, Mortgages and Cash.||Income Last Year.||Expense.||REMARKS.|
|1||Washington, D. C.||C. Savings Bank.||1888||Banking||$150,000||35||$ 55,440||$16,320 01||$.||Very successful.|
|2||Washington, D. C.||Indus. B. & S. Co||1886||Building Ass'n||50,000||700||31,000||396 50||Fairly successful.|
|3||Galveston, Tex||Cotton Jam'rs & Longshor. A. No. 2||1879||Trades Union||700||cash 5,000
|6,000 00||2,000 00||Very successful.|
|4||Atlanta, Ga.||Atlanta L. & T. Co||1890||Real est. & rents||15||7,000||700 00||1,000 00|
|5||Atlanta, Ga.||Ga. Real Estate Loan & Trust Co.||1891||Real est. & rents||25||3,500|
|6||Atlanta, Ga.||South View Cemetery Ass'n||1885||Burial Ground||26||4,000
|7||Concord, N. C.||Coleman Mfg. Co||1897||Mfg cotton goods||50,000||100||*20,000||17,000 00||Not fully started.|
|8||Richmond, Va||True Reformers' Savings Bank||1889||Banking and ins.||100,000||500||115,000|
|9||Augusta, Ga||Wk'gmen's Loan & Bldg Ass'n||1889||Building Ass'n||120||3,400||3,900 00||Very successful.|
|10||Richmond, Va||* Nickel S'v'gs Bk||Deposit and bk'g.||30,000|
|11||Birmingham, Ala.||*People's S'gs Bk||Deposit and bk'g.||50,000|
|12||Hampton, Va.||People's Bldg. & Loan Ass'n||1889||Building Ass'n||75,000||31,000 00||250 homes bought|
|13||Jacksonville, Fla.||Capital Trust Co.||1894||Banking||25,000||30||4,500 00||Dividend of 10% last year.|
|14||Little Rock, Ark.||L Loan & T. Co.||1898||Building Ass'n|
|15||Hampton, Va.||Hampton Supply Co.||1891||Retails wood, etc||4,500||12,000 00|
|16||Hampton, Va.||Bay Shore Hotel Co.||1897||Summer resort||2,600||1,000 00|
|17||Hampton, Va.||W'k'ngmen's Cooperative Union.||1897||Retail store||400||500 00|
* No direct report has been received from these two banks.
The chief co-operative businesses are those which the pressure of race prejudice rendered necessary, as, for instance, cemetery associations. Although details of only one of these is reported, there are known to be a considerable number, and they are well conducted. Efforts in handling real estate come next in popularity and have had various degrees of success. The Workingmen's Loan and Building Astocitiation, of Augusta, Ga., conconducted wholly by Negroes, is now nine years old and has been the means of securing over 100 homes for its members. Its eighth annual statement is as follows:
Eighth Annual Statement of the Workingmen's Loan and Building Association at the close of business May 31, 1898:
|Real estate||3,100 00|
|Office fixtures||75 00|
|Capital stock||$10,725 00|
|Bills payable||1,540 38|
|Undivided profits||3,324 03|
The building and loan association of Washington has been pretty successful. It was organized for the "purpose of demonstrating business capacity and unity in the Negro race, and was intended especially to operate among, and to secure the support of the large class of colored people employed in the departmental service of the government here and as school teachers in this city, since this class was known to handle, in the aggregate, large sums of money monthly. But our hopes in this direction have not been realized. Such success as our company has achieved came almost altogether from the wage-earning element, not from the salary drawers. These latter have seemed to prefer to put their money as well as their personal influence on the side of business institutions conducted by white persons, institutions in which they are rigidly excluded from all participation whatever. And a still more discouraging aspect of the situation is that there seems to be but little change for the better in this condition. Not alone in this association is this sentiment observable among the better paid element of the race, but it applies to all organized business efforts in this city so far as I am aware. These are supported by the middle and lower classes, among whom the instinct of race affinity is strongest and the support of race institutions the most permanent and substantial."*
*Report of Secretary, Mr. Henry E. Baker.
In Little Rock, Ark., several well-to-do Negroes have started a building association, with a nickel savings department attached. The company was incorporated in 1898, and is now ready for work.
The People's Building and Loan Association of Hampton, Va., has been very successful. It has been in operation nine years and has a paid up capital of $75,000. Last year (1897) it did a business of $31,000, on which the gross profits were $5,000. The officers have been, and still are, all colored. The association has been the means of erecting 250 homes. It "has proven a blessing to the poor people of this community by assisting them to get homes; also a good investment for those who desired to bank a small amount, it having paid these years 7 and 8% interest." It has two salaried officials and 500 members.*
*Report of a stockholder.
Hampton also has two successful co-operative stores--a form of enterprise which has not heretofore succeeded. The Hampton Supply Company was organized in the year 1891 and has 100 members. The paid up capital is $45,000. It went into business in 1896, and since that time it has dealt in wood, coal and feed stuff, and does a businees of $12,000 per year. It gives employment to five persons.
The Workingmen's Co-operative Union has twenty members, a capital of $400 and does a business of $500 to $1,000 annually. It handles coal, wood, feed and groceries.
In this connectien the Bay Shore Hotel Company of Hampton may be noticed. It is an attempt to furnish a decent summer resort for Negroes, since the majority of resorts are shut against them. It was organized in 1897, with sixty members and a paid up capital of $2,600. Last season it did a business of $1,000, employing four persons.
Of these three enterprises in Hampton, an officer of Hampton Institute writes:
"These are all incorporated companies, officered and controlled by colored men. They have been organized and operated as an outgrowth directly of the demands of the people rather than as a speculative investment in the different forms of business in rivalry of those already in existence; and to this extent they have all been successful."*
*Mr. D. R. Lewis, instructor in mechanical drawing.
The most successful Negro bank of the six or seven which have been organized by Negroes, is the Capital Savings bank of Washington, now ten years old.* *NOTE.--It was reported in the last Hampton Conference that there were over fifty Negroes in Washington worth $10,000 and over. Returns from thirty-five of these showed that only twelve invested their money in Negro business enterprises, and only seven of these invested to any considerable extent. This, after all, is but natural. The money of men who have successfully accumulated property is attracted mainly by the returns to be gained and less by philanthropic or sentimental reasons; that of the lower and middle classes is more influenced by considerations of race pride and social advance. It is, however, no mean compliment to Negro business enterprise that it has thus early been able to attract 20% of the well-to-do of the race in competition with the business of an industrial age.
When it started, white business men of Washington refused to rent it proper quarters, whereupon it bought a pleasant building
*NOTE.--It was reported in the last Hampton Conference that there were over fifty Negroes in Washington worth $10,000 and over. Returns from thirty-five of these showed that only twelve invested their money in Negro business enterprises, and only seven of these invested to any considerable extent. This, after all, is but natural. The money of men who have successfully accumulated property is attracted mainly by the returns to be gained and less by philanthropic or sentimental reasons; that of the lower and middle classes is more influenced by considerations of race pride and social advance. It is, however, no mean compliment to Negro business enterprise that it has thus early been able to attract 20% of the well-to-do of the race in competition with the business of an industrial age.
on F street, where it conducts a growing business. Other banks, like the one in Baltimore, have failed through the rascality of some of the officers.
A very promising institution is the Capital Trust Company of Jacksonville, Fla., organized March 6, 1894. It consists of thirty Negro business men and artisans who have invested $25,000 in a banking business. They loan money and discount paper. They have no salaried officials and reduce expenses to a minimum ($6.35 for last year). The officials manage the affairs of the bank in connection with their own business. Last year they earned 18% on their capital and distributed 10% in dividends. The president is a contractor and builder.
The banking business conducted by the Grand Fountain of the Order of True Reformers, on North Second street, Richmond, Va., is capitalized at $100,000. It owns much property, over $115,000 in buildings, residences and the like. There are 7,086 depositors reported, and $101,933.32 deposited. Since its establishment in 1889 it claims to have handled $3,795,667.36, and to have paid out for the insurance department of the order $370,910.75. The work at present is reported as being "in a prosperous condition," and it is certainly the largest financial enterprise conducted by Negroes outside the church organizations.
No direct reports have been received from the other banks, but they are known to exist. The Atlanta Loan and Trust Company, which has invested chiefly in city lots, "has not improved in the last two years. The company is self-sustaining, but yields no dividends to the stockholders." This is probably the condition of several other ventures.
Two notable enterprises must be mentioned. One is the Cotton Jammers and Longshoremen's Association No. 2 of Galveston, Tex., who "have the reputation of doing the best work of any cotton screwmen at this port." They are more than a trade's union, as they have invested in $1,000 worth of tools used in the business. They receive dues from members and also from the different gangs at work. They pay sick and death benefits. The association is nineteen years old. The other enterprise is the Coleman Manufacturing Company, which is erecting a cotton mill at Concord, N. C. The president and all except one of the directors are Negroes, and in August, 1897, they issued the following prospectus:
"Incorporated under the laws of the State of North Carolina. Capital stock, $50,000.
"Concord, N. C., August 20, 1897.
"DEAR SIR: We beg to call your attention to our new enterprise, indicated above. We are a co-operative stock company of colored men who propose to build and operate a cotton mill in the interest of the race. This is a gigantic effort and we need the cooperation of every friend of the race. Its promoters are among the most successful Negro business men in the country. Many of its stockholders are influential citizens of the white race, and may be found in every section of the country. Capital stock has been raised to $100,000, half of which is already subscribed; the remainder we now offer at $100 per share. This may be paid in installments of 10% or taken in paid up stock. When the full amount has been paid, certificates
of stock, negotiable, are given. From 40,000 to 50,000 bricks are being turned out daily; we expect to begin laying them in a few weeks time. When completed we will employ from 300 to 400 hands. Avenues along all lines of work will open up, and we want some one to open a boarding house, run a truck farm, livery stable, dairy, etc. We urge you to consider this Negro enterprise and write us for any further information you may desire. Yours in interest of the race,
"W. C. COLEMAN."
Since that time the mill and some houses have been built, and "we are ready to install engine and boiler and other machinery. Work of operation will commence as soon as we sell some more stock." A special trade edition of the Concord Times, a white paper, March 10, 1898, speaks of the enterprise as follows:
"Can the Negro race successfully own and operate cotton mills? This question so long in doubt is about to be answered and we believe in the affirmative. The first great stride in that direction was taken when on the 8th of February, 1898, was laid with Masonic honors the corner stone of the handsome three-story brick building, 80×120 feet in dimensions, of the Coleman Cotton Mill. It was indeed a marked epoch in the history of the Negro race and pronounced by all present an entire success. Noted speakers from all over the United States were invited and the railroads gave reduced rates from all points. Following the laying of the corner stone was the annual election of officers, who are as follows: R. B. Fitzgerald, of Durham, N. C., president; E. A. Johnson, of Raleigh, N. C., vice-president, and W. C. Coleman, of Concord, N. C., secretary and treasurer. The following gentlemen constitute the board of directors: Rev. S. C. Thompson, Camden, S. C.; L. P. Berry, Statesville, N. C.; John C. Dancy, Salisbury, N. C.; Prof. S. B. Pride, Charlotte, N. C.; Prof. C. F. Meserve, Raleigh, N. C., and Robert McRae, Concord, N. C. Among these are some of the highest lights of the Negro race, and under their careful direction we have no doubts as to the final results of the enterprise. The promoter of this enterprise, Mr. W. C. Coleman, is the wealthiest Negro in the State, and he has rallied around him not only the leaders of his race but has the endorsement of many of the most successful financiers among our white citizens throughout the State. The mill is to have from 7,000 to 10,000 spindles and from 100 to 250 looms, and, by their charter, will be allowed to spin, weave, manufacture, finish and sell warps, yarns, cloth, prints or other fabrics made of cotton, wool or other material. They own at present, in connection with the plant, about 100 acres of land on the main line of the Southern Railway and near the site of the mill. The mill and machinery with all the fixtures complete will represent an outlay of nearly $66,000, and will give employment to a number of hands. The building is now completed and ready for machinery.
"Let us add that Concord has reason to and does feel proud of the fact that she has the only cotton mill in the world owned, conducted and operated by the Negro race."
This experiment will certainly be watched with interest all over the land.
In an advanced civilization a study of efforts for social
betterment would confine itself chiefly to the work of special benevolent agencies which had reform and rescue work as their immediate objects. Institutions and organizations for the accomplishment of these ends have, in most modern countries, been developed after long trial and experiment. The culture of the mass of the race we are studying, however, has not yet come to the point of differentiating special organs of benevolence and reform to any great extent. Consequently this study has to review chiefly the activities of organizations whose main object is not benevolent but who incidentally do much work to promote the social wellfare. Even here, as mentioned before, we can by no means gather up all efforts because so many are unsystemaaic and unorganized.
Especially in the matter of purely benevolent work do we find lack of organization and system. Probably no portion of the people of the country more quickly respond to charitable appeals of all sorts than do the colored people. They have few charitable societies but they give much money, work and time to charitable deeds among their fellows; they have few orphan asylums, but a large number of children are adopted by private families, often when the adopting family can ill afford it; there are not many old folk's homes, but many old people find shelter and support among families to whom they are not related. In fine, the open hospitality of a primitive people is especially noticeable among Negroes.
We, however, are to notice only the cases where the sense of the importance of such relief work has so impressed itself upon the group as to lead to systematic cooperation in performing it. Returns from all such enterprises, even in the limited territory studied, have not been obtained, but a table of twenty-one organizations which seems fairly representative, follows. Here, again, the limits of the nine cities have not been adhered to. Only seven of the efforts reported were from those cities. (For table see pages 30-31.)
Some of these enterprises deserve particular attention. The missionary corps of Fort Smith, Ark., writes: "The object of the corps is not only charitable, but to advance the race religiously, morally and intellectually. We have organized a Mother's Meeting and Sewing School."
There are three orphan asylums reported, and several others are known to exist. An account of the Carrie Steele Orphanage is printed among the following papers. The Tennessee Orphanage and Industrial school is an interesting offshoot of the Negro Department of the Tennessee Centennial. The head of that department, who is now principal of the orphanage, says:
"At the beginning of the work of the Negro Department of the Tennessee Centennial it was remarked that something should be done that would be a lasting benefit to our people. It was suggested to take advantage of the enthusiasm connected with that organization and create a home for some of the many parentless and neglected boys and girls of our race, take them off the streets and train not only their heads but hearts and hands as well, that they may become useful men and women.
"As a start towards raising money for this purpose the Orphans' Home buttons were placed on sale and hundreds of them sold.
"Next, the 'Symposium,' a 5 and 10 cent entertainment, was given at the Spruce Street Baptist Church, by which about $100 was made. Several
small sums of money were donated by Sunday-schools and individuals. Then came the 'field day' at Cumberland Park, in the summer of 1896."
At a meeting of Negroes to establish this asylum, the Nashville American, March 14, 1898, reports a colored clergyman as saying:
"When we think of the army of boys and girls growing up in our city, in ignorance, vice and shame, without any care and protection, we are appalled. These fill the work house, the chain gang, the haunts of 'Magdalene' and the penitentiary. In Nashville we have a Negro orphaned and neglected population of not less than 2,000 children. Think of it, 2,000 Negro children in our midst parentless and neglected.
"I submit, my friends, it is an unwelcome thought, but nevertheless, this army of children is growing up without Christian influence, scarcely any moral teaching, and without education to fit them for life's duties. What does this orphanage movement mean? you ask. It means an effort to save at least a few of these unfortunate little ones from abject poverty and possibly a life of shame and ultimate ruin. It means an effort at their education, their moral and Christian development, and fitting them to be intelligent, honorable citizens. It has behind it the spirit of the highest and best humanity, and our duty toward it as citizens is first to give it our moral support.
"When I think of the hundreds that swarm in 'Black Bottom,' 'Hell's Half Acre,' 'Smoky Row,' 'Tin Cup Alley,' 'Crappy Chute,' 'Wood Maney's Bottom,' and many other low wards of the city, my soul staggers. When I look into the faces of hundreds of little urchins I meet daily, with dirt stained features, whose hands and hearts will soon be stained with crime, it seems to me that I hear the footfall of a coming army, whose breathings are not for the health of society, the city, the church or nation.
"But, my friends, this orphanage will need more than sentiment and prayers. Our duty towards it will be to give it our financial support, as well as our moral support. No institution can be run without money. It will require money to make this orphanage live, the grounds will have to be beautified, the buildings enlarged and all necessary arrangements and equipments provided for, incidental to the running of an orphan home, such as fuel, light, food, and clothing. This will call for the liberality of our citizens continually. Now I know that there are some little, selfish souls who will say they don't see how we can support this enterprise and keep up our churches, societies and such like; we are too poor.
"I deny the assertion and denounce the statement as being without warrant or reason. I say we can, and God helping us, we will. There are between 35,000 and 40,000 Negroes in Nashville. There are 44 Negro churches in Nashville, over 100 societies; if each of these would give but a small contribution monthly it could be handsomely supported."
As a result of this appeal and others ground has been bought and a six-room house, all valued at $2,500. The American continues:
"The orphanage is beautifully situated in the Eighteenth district, three miles from the Square, and will be no doubt a favorite place for the colored
|1||Fort Smith, Ark.||Ladies' Relief and Missionary Corps.||1898||Charitable work, Mothers' Meeting.||130|
|2||Americus, Ga.||Col'd Orphan asylum||1898||Orphanage|
|3||Southern Pines, N.C.||Pickford Sanitarium||1897||Hospital for Consumptives||16 trustees.|
|4||Raleigh, N. C.||Ladies' Pickford Sanitarium Aid Society||1897||To aid hospital||30|
|5||Washington, D. C.||Colored Woman's League||1892||Kindergartens, rescue work, etc.||100|
|6||Pine Bluff, Ark.||Mothers' Conference||1893||Mothers' meetings.|
|7||Nashville, Tenn.||Parents' Conference.||1897||Mothers' meetings.|
|8||Texas.||Farmers' Improvement Society||1896||Village and farm improvement||1,800|
|9||Washington, D. C.||American Negro Academy||1897||Tracts and Publications|
|10||Atlanta, Ga.||Florence Crittenden Home||1898||To rescue Fallen Women|
|11||Atlanta, Ga.||Women's Club of Atlanta||1895||Charitable work, Self-culture||60|
|12||Augusta, Ga.||Union Waiters' Society||1859||Benevolence, care of sick and dead.|
|13||Augusta, Ga.||Hospital for Negroes||To care for the Sick|
|14||Nashville, Tenn.||Tenn. Orphanage||1898||For Orphans.||16 trust's|
|15||Atlanta, Ga.||Carrie Steele Orphanage||For Orphans|
|16||Petersburg, Va.||Orphanage||For Orphans|
|17||Atlanta, Ga.||First Sociological Club||1896||Study and Benevolent Enterprise||20|
|18||Petersburg, Va.||Old Folks' Home||Care of Aged|
|19||Atlanta, Ga.||Carter Home for the Aged||1897||Care of Aged|
|20||Washington, D. C.||National Ass'n of Colored Women||1896||Confederates Women's Clubs||2,000|
|21||Savannah, Ga.||Hospital for Negroes||To Care for the Sick|
|22||Richmond, Va.||Reformatory for Negro Boys and Girls||1897||To Reform Young Criminals||21 Directors.|
|Income Last Year||OBJECTS OF EXPENDITURE.||EXPENSE LAST YEAR.||REMARKS.|
|1||$ 100 00||Charity, etc.||$91 00|
|2||Home and school for children; built by Grand Lodge of Masons of Ga.; corner stone laid April 18, '98.|
|3||400 00||Care of consumptives||Erected two Pavilions||Some white trustees and donors, but mainly a Negro movement; owns 4 acres: 4 buildings pledged.|
|4||100 00||Has furnished first pavilion.|
|5||647 59||Kindergarten, educating girls||606 71||[Has established kindergarten system and normal training school, educated girls and done rescue work.|
|6||37 80||76 80||Organized by a white woman; carried on mainly by Negroes.|
|8||Meets annually; has branches all over the State.|
|9||150 00||Printing, etc.||150 00||A national association.|
|10||500 14||A new enterprise.|
|11||75 00||A part of the National Association of Colored Women.|
|12||736 60||Sickness and death aid||749 70||Owns hall and loan ass'n stock; has large number of old men as members.|
|13||Endowed by a Southern white man; conducted by Negroes.|
|14||801 21||Care, etc.||698 28|
|15||Receives some State aid.|
|16||Supported by Baptists.|
|17||"To improve the home life of the poor."|
|18||Secret society home.|
|19||1,500 00||Connected with a Baptist church.|
|20||Has a large number of affiliated clubs.|
|21||Endowed by a Southern white man; conducted by Negroes.|
|22||2,254 00||Purchase of Land||Expects partial State support; is nearly ready for inmates.|
people of this city and State. It is well watered and has on it a beautiful house and one of the finest young orchards in this section.
"It is all a very commendable move of the Negroes of this city and deserves the support of all good citizens."
The orphanage was chartered by the State February 19, 1898, and as its prospectus says, proposes "to care for some of the many parentless and neglected Negro boys and girls of this State, take them off the streets and train not only their heads but their hearts and hands as well, that they may become good, useful, Christian men and women."
A similar enterprise in Virginia is that started by John H. Smyth, ex-Minister to Liberia. His own words are:
"Virginia unconsciously is graduating under common and statute laws annually thousands of youthful criminals. There is no middle ground, there is no house of refuge, correction or reformatory for the black boy or girl--who from defective, and from no training, has taken the first step downward, and as a consequence, crime is accelerated and increased by law.
'The motherhood of the black race in Virginia is being tainted in its childhood by jails and a penitentiary, the manhood and youth are made criminal by means designed for punishment of wrongdoing, but which are proving most effective and destructive agencies of the morals of a large class of a race.
* * * * * * * *
"It would be better to kill the unhappy children of my race than to wreck their souls by herding them in prison with common and hardened criminals.
* * * * * * * *
"Seeing this condition, a few earnest Negro men, in defence of the respectability of the race, moved by humane and Christian sentiments, formed the Negro Reformatory Association of Virginia, which came into corporate existence June 11, 1897. It has a Negro Board of Directors and an Advisory Board of seven white Virginians, and its purpose is to rescue juvenile offenders through a reformatory. Though there is a reformatory in Virginia for white boys, in the eighth year of its existence, the Negro children and youths may not enter its portals, though there is not a word or sentence in the charter of the 'Prison Association of Virginia' restricting its beneficence to whites, nor prohibitive of its influence to blacks.
'The Negro Reformatory Association of Virginia has undertaken to purchase a farm of 1,804 acres of ground in the county of Hanover, and the erection of two dormitories, and two shops for teaching trades.
"The cost of the land is $8.00 per acre, or $14,432; the cost of the four buildings $60,000, making a total need of $75,000.
"That the institution shall not be an annual pensioner upon friends and the public, farming in all its branches, blacksmithing, carpentry, shoe-making, and instruction in the domestic arts, are designed to make the institution, from the start, self-supporting with the State's aid in food and clothing of the inmates. The rudiments of English learning will be taught and moral training will be the main object."*
*Address at 25th National Conference of Charities and Correction, New York, May 24, 1898.
The last announcement of the Association says:
"The Negro Reformatory Association of Virginia gratefully acknowledges the receipt of $2,254.14 from generous and philanthropic friends in the States of Virginia, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania, up to August 1, 1898. The Association has purchased 423 of the 1,804 acres of 'Broad Neck' estate, Hanover county, Virginia, and has an option on 1,381 acres, the residue of the plantation, for one year.
There are four small buildings upon the land purchased, two dwelling houses, a small barn and a stable, all of which may be used by an expenditure of $500 for necessary repairs. With these buildings repaired the work of receiving inmates may be begun by January 15, 1899. The plans and drawings of the first building, the 'Martha Washington Home for Boys,' of the Negro Reformatory Association of Virginia, have been made by Mr. C. Ruehrmund, 922 Main street, Richmond, Va. This house may be commenced next spring and completed by the summer of 1899, provided the friends of the Reformatory will aid in raising at once $20,000.
"The purpose of the Association is to avoid debt, to pay as it goes, so that when the building shall have been completed it will be the property of the Association and not of the contractors."
Of all the efforts here reported none is more deserving of praise than the Pickford Sanitarium. This is the work of a Negro physician, Dr. L. A. Scruggs, aided by whites and Negroes in the North and in the South. As Dr. R. H. Lewis, Secretary of the North Carolina Board of Health says:
"If there is one thing more than another that the colored people need, it is hospital privileges, practically within their reach, both as to distance and cost. It has been a matter of surprise with me that some of the people of the North, who have been so generous in their benefactions to educational institutions for them, have not realized this fact and devoted some of it to the relief of sickness and suffering. If they realized, as some of us who go in and out among the colored people do, the environment of the average Negro, sick at home, in want of nearly everything a sick person ought to have, I am sure this want would be speedly supplied. * * * And consumption has become the special bane of the race. * * Unless something is done, I believe that it will eventually decimate the race."*
* Letter to Dr. Scruggs; see Southern Sanitarium. October, 1897.
Impressed by such considerations the Negroes of North Carolina have founded a hospital especially for Negro consumptives in the mountain air of that State. The Raleigh Daily Press Visitor, September 13, 1897, says:
"The Pickford Sanitarium for consumptive Negroes, at Southern Pines, N. C., was dedicated Friday last. Two thousand persons were present, who attended the exercises and inspected the grounds and buildings.
"Dr. Scruggs deserves the credit for establishing this institution. The enterprise is the result of his labors. The building which was dedicated consists of two well furnished and nicely apportioned wards with accommodations for twelve persons.
"The white ministers of Southern Pines took an active and leading part in the services. Mrs. A. W. Curtis, of this city, has established and will maintain a memorial cot in memory of her son.
"The land and buildings are all paid for, and there is no claim upon them. The people of Moore county and adjoining counties expressed their entire approval and pleasure at the enterprise."
The larger part of the money subscribed has come from Northern whites, and especially from Mrs. C. J. Pickford, of Lynn, Mass. Nevertheless the Negroes, too, are contributing:
"The Ladies' Pickford Sanitarium Aid Society, of Raleigh, N. C., has completely furnished the first building of the Sanitarium. These ladies, more than thirty in number, have done a noble deed, which reflects much credit upon the citizens of Raleigh. They have our sincere thanks."*
*Sanitarium, October, 1897.
The plan for carrying on the Sanitarium is thus outlined by the Superintendent:
"The Pickford Sanitarium, for the care and treatment of consumptive Negroes and those suffering from any bronchial or throat troubles, is now no longer an imaginary institution, but exists in fact. Within less time than one year four buildings have been pledged by some friends of means, and money has been given, including other donations, sufficient to secure our four acres of land, upon which we have erected and furnished and paid for, one beautiful pavilion, with capacity for twelve patients.
"A second building is rapidly going up, and will be ready by December 1, 1897, when we shall begin to receive patients. This building will contain a kitchen, dining-room, nurses' department and offices. * * *
"No unnecessary idleleness will be encouraged at this institution. Sufficient garden land will be provided, so that patients may take very moderate out-door exercise, and in this way, when able so to do, the patient will not only help to feed himself, but will take, under healthy rules, such physical exercise in the open air as will prove a great help in expanding the lung cells to a moderate degree, and in securing for him necessary muscular development.
"We propose to have a well-aired, suitable building, in which carpenters, shoemakers, blacksmiths, tin-workers, carvers and scroll-cutters, printers and others skilled in the industrial arts may find welcome, home-like employment. In this way, with the garden, or little farm and shop work, our institution will take such a stand as to commend itself both to the sufferer and the public in general. This light labor will prove to this class of patients not only a pleasant duty in warm days in winter but a desirable, as well as an acceptable method of exercise as a part of the treatment which they seek.
"My friend, will you help us, and thereby have a hand in this work for the most wretchedly diseased of your fellow-beings?"
The Colored Woman's League of Washington is spoken of in detail later. The Farmers' Improvement Society of Texas was started by a former student of the Atlanta University, Mr. R. L. Smith, who is now a member of the Texas Legislature. It is said that in the town where his society has done the most work, the Negro portion is more attractive than
that of the whites. The object of the society as set forth at its third annual convention is:
The society is represented by organizations in thirty-six different towns and claims 1,800 members. The character of these organizations may be illustrated by reports from two:*
* From Helping Hand. October, 1898.
"Kendelton Branch reported: Number of members. 40; annual dues, $4.00; number of acres owned by members, 2,063; number of acres in cultivation, 1,037; amount spent for improvements, $885; value of property owned by members, $36,760; amount spent for sickness, $3.50; amount for incidental expenses, $1.00; amount on hand, $42.50. Organized by G. A. Allen, January, 1897, with twelve members; we have grown to forty. We send to represent us our worthy secretary, G. A. Allen, and Vice-President A. R. Brown. Respectfully submitted.
"G. H. HICKS, President.
"G. A. ALLEN, Secretary."
"The Oakland Branch of the Farmers Improvement Society respectfully submits its annual report to the convocation:
"We were organized in 1891 with 12 members; present membership, 50; number of acres owned by members, 900; value of improvements thereon, $6,000; value of land, including improvements, $24,000; average indebtedness
for supplies, $40; decrease, 50%; amount of monthly dues collected, $125.25; amount spent for sickness and death, $35.50; balance in treasury, $89.75; amount spent in co-operation, $2.25.
"W. H. ISAACS, Secretary.
J. E. EASON, President.
ISABEL SMITH, Delegate."
The President publishes a small eight-page paper, which is the official organ of the Society.
The American Negro Academy is one of the most promising of the broader organizations of the colored people. It has a membership limited to fifty consisting largely of teachers and professional men; the object of the organization is thus stated in the printed announcement:
"The Negro Academy believes that upon those of the race who have had the advantage of higher education and culture rests the responsibility of taking concerted steps for the employment of these agencies to uplift the race to higher planes of thought and action.
"Two great obstacles to this consummation are apparent: (a) The lack of unity, the want of harmony, absence of a self-sacrificing spirit, and no well-developed line of policy seeking definite aims. (b) The persistent, relentless, at times covert opposition, employed to thwart the Negro at every step of his upward struggles to establish the justice of his claim to the highest physical, intellectual and moral possibilities.
"The Academy will, therefore, from time to time, publish such papers as in their judgment aid by their broad and scholarly treatment of the topics discussed, the dissemination of principles tending to the growth and development of the Negro along right lines, and the vindication of the race against vicious assaults."*
*Occasional Paper No. 2, American Negro Academy.
So far the Academy has issued two occasional papers, and its venerable president,, the late Alexander Crummell, had at his death nearly finished a series of ten tracts. The papers are a "Review of Hoffman's Race Traits and Tendencies," and "The Conservation of Races." Tract No. 2 is worth repeating here, together with a list of the other tracts:
"By Alexander Crummell, President of the American Negro Academy."
"Nothing is more natural than the anxieties of wronged and degraded people concerning the steps they should take to rise above their misfortunes and to elevate themselves. Thus it is that the colored people, in meetings and conventions, are constantly plied with the schemes their public speakers say will lift them up to higher levels.
1. "(a) One prominent man will address an assemblage somewhat in this manner:
" 'The only way to destroy the prejudice against our race is to become rich. If you have money the white man will respect you. He cares more for the almighty dollar than anything else. Wealth, then, is the only thing by which we can overcome the caste spirit. Therefore, I say, get money; for riches are our only salvation.'
"(b) Another speaker harangues his audience in this manner:
" 'Brethren, education is the only way to overcome our difficulties. Send your children to school. Give them all the learning you can. To this end you must practice great self-denial. Send them to college, and make them lawyers and doctors. Come out of the barber shops, the eating houses and the kitchens, and get into the professions; and thus you will command the respect of the whites.'
"(c) But now up starts your practical orator. His absorbing fad is labor, and his address is as follows:
" 'My friends, all this talk about learning, all this call for scholars, and lawyers, and doctors for our poor people is nonsense. Industrialism is the solution of the whole Negro problem. The black man must learn to work. We must have 'Manual Labor Schools' for the race. We must till and farm, apply the hoe and rake, and thus, by productive labor, overcome inferior conditions and secure strength and influence.'
"(d) We have another class of teachers which must not be passed over. Our political leaders form not a small element in the life of our people, and exert no petty influence. In fact, they are the most demonstrative of all classes, and they tell us most positively that 'in a democratic system, such as we are living under, no race can be respected unless it can get political influence and hold office. Suffrage is the life of any people, and it is their right to share in the offices of the land. Our people can't be a people unless their leading men get positions and take part in government.'
2. "Now it would be folly to deny the importance of these expedients. For there is a real worth which the Almighty has put in money, in letters and learning, in political franchises, in labor and the fruits of labor. These are, without doubt, great agents and instruments in human civilization.
"But I deny that either of them can gain for us that elevation which is our great and pressing want. For what we need, as a race, is an elevation which does something more than improve our temporal circumstances, or alter our material condition. We want the uplifting of humanity. We must have the enlargement of our manhood. WE NEED CHARACTER!
"Many a man and many peoples, laden with riches, have gone down to swift destruction. In the midst of the grandest civilization many a nation has been eaten out with corruption and gone headlong to ruin. The proudest monarchies and the most boastful democracies have alike gone down suddenly to grim disaster.
3. "There is no real elevation in any of these things. The history of the world shows that the true elevation of man comes from living forces.
"But money is not a living force. Farms and property are not living forces; nor yet is culture of itself, nor political franchises. Those only are living forces which can uplift the souls of men to superiority:--living forces, not simply acting upon the material conditions of life, but permeating their innermost being and moulding the invisible, but mighty powers of the reason and the will.
"Now, when men say that money and property will elevate our people, they state only a half truth; for wealth only helps to elevate the man. There must be some manhood, precedent, for the wealth to act upon. So,
too, when they declare that learning or politics will uplift the race, they give us but a half truth.
"These are all simply aids and assistances to something higher and nobler, which both goes before and reaches far beyond them. They are, rightly used, agencies to that real elevation which is essentially an inward and moral process.
"Don't be deceived by half truths: for half truths lose, not seldom, the fine essence of real truth; and so become thorough deceits. Half truths are oftentimes prodigious errors. Half truths are frequently whole lies.
4. "What then is the mighty power which uplifts the fallen?
"It is Cowper who tells us--
'The only Amaranthine flower
Is virtue; the only lasting treasure is truth.'
"But what does the poet mean by these simple but beautiful lines?
"He means that for man, for societies, for races, for nations, the one living and abiding thing is character.
"For character is an internal quality; and it works from within, outward, by force of nature and divine succours; and it uses anything and all things, visible and invisible, for the greatness and the growth of the souls of men, and for the upbuilding of society. It seizes upon money and property, upon learning and power as instruments for its own purposes; and even if these agencies should fail, character abides, a living and a lasting thing.
"The other things are not internal and living things, useful as they are; and hence, of themselves, cannot produce the grand results which beget the elevation of humanity.
"I say, therefore, that unless a people has character, there is no elevation possible for them. In saying this, however, I would not by any means eschew the value of money and property, of education and political rights. These have their place in all the processes of personal or social growth; but they do not make men, nor regenerate society. Character alone does this.
"It is character which is the great condition of life; character is the spring of all lawful ambitions and the stimulant to all rightful aspiration; character is the criterion of mental growth; character is the motive power of enterprise and the basis of credit; character is the root of discipline and self-restraint; character is the cement of the family; character is the consumate flower of true religion, and the crowning glory of civilization.
"In fine, it is character which is the bed-rock of everything strong, masterful and lasting in all the organizations of life and society; and without it they are nothing but chaff and emptiness.
5. "I am asked, perchance, for a more definite meaning of this word character. My answer is in the words of the Apostle St. Paul:
" 'Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue
and if there be any praise, think on these things.' These are the elements of character.
"All this is equally applicable to man, or, a community; for (a) if a man is not truthful and honorable, just and pure, he is not a man of character. (b) If a family, in a neighborhood--father, mother, girls and sons, are truthless and dishonorable, unjust and impure, no one can regard them as people of character. Just so too with a community, with a nation, with a race. If it is destitute of these grand qualities, whatever else it may be, whatever else it may have, if it is devoid of character, failure for it is a certainty.
6. "Now, if the Negro race in this nation wish to become a people; if they are anxious to prove themselves a stable, saving and productive element in this great republic; if they are ambitious of advancement in all the lines of prosperity, of intelligence, of manly growth and spiritual development; they must fall back upon this grand power of human beings--character.
"They must make this the main and master aim of all high endeavor. They must strive to free themselves from false notions, pernicious principles and evil habits. They must exert themselves to the adoption of correct and saving ideas. They must lift themselves up to superior modes of living. They must introduce, as permanent and abiding factors in their life, the qualities of thrift, order, discipline, virtue and purity.
"Now, it is useless to deny the presence among us of drunken and profligate husbands, loose and slatternly wives, and licentious youths of both sexes. We see, not seldom, unprincipled hireling school teachers, greedy of pelf, hating their duties, and disliking childhood. We hear of leprous ministers in our pulpits, prostituting the holiest of offices; and we can, at once, put our finger upon the 'damning spot,' in all this varied iniquity--it is the lack of character! It is not the want of money which is at the root of these disasters; not the need of education which is the great difficulty. No! It it is the absence of that great inward quality--character.
"Now, the mightiest effort of the whole race, especially of Ministers and Teachers, should tend to this grand acquisition. This should be put before and above everything else. If a choice must be made, it were better that our boys and girls should grow up poor and ignorant than that they should be trained in the family, and in the school, devoid of character.
"Is not this right? For think for a moment--what rot is there in the world which is as dreadful as a lad without honor, or a girl who is impure?
"No such choice for our children is forced upon any of us. But character is the main thing; far superior to riches, estates, or learning, or voting."
LIST OF TRACTS.*
* A series of tracts on economic duties and problems are designed to be published in 1899 by the Academy. Some correspondence has been had by this body with the Government of Belgium in relation to American Negroes in the Congo Free State. See Proceedings of the Congres International Colonial de Bruxelles, 1897, paper by M. Paul Hageman.
Price of the Tracts, One Dollar ($1.00) per hundred.
The Union Waiters' Society of Augusta is an interesting example of an old, well-conducted benevolent society which has neither died out nor developed into an insurance society or a business enterprise. Its funds have been well invested in real estate and stocks, and the income goes to support in sickness many of its old and feeble members; besides this, it contributes to churches, Sunday-schools, and to "every worthy object." It is nearly 46 years old.
The Atlanta Woman's Club was organized in 1895 "for the purpose of helping the poor, the needy, sick and imprisoned, and for self-culture. It is one of the clubs which form the National Association."*
*Report of Secretary.
"The National Association of Colored Women was organized in 1895 in the city of Boston. We began with a little more than a dozen clubs, and now have 125 clubs, representing 2,000 members. We hold our meetings biennially. The next meeting comes in July, 1899, in the city of Chicago. Our motto is, 'Lifting as We Climb.' We are organized for the elevation of woman intellectually, physically and morally."*
*Report of Chairman of the Executive Committee.
The Association publishes a monthly paper, the National Association Notes, and it publishes
occasional pamphlets.‡ ‡See one on the Chain-Gang System, by Mrs. S. S. Butler.
The following is a roster of 86 of the affiliated clubs:
‡See one on the Chain-Gang System, by Mrs. S. S. Butler.
Alabama--Eufaula Woman's Club; Greensboro Woman's Mutual Benefit Club; Montgomery Sojourner Truth Club; Mt. Meigs Woman's Club; Selma Woman's Club; Tuskegee Woman's Club; Tuskegee-Notasulga Woman's Club; Birmingham Sojourner Truth Club; Ladies' Auxiliary, Montgomery; Ten Times One, Montgomery.
California--Los Angeles Woman's Club.
North Carolina--Biddle University Club.
South Carolina--Charleston Woman's League; Charleston W. C. T. U.
Colorado--Denver, The Woman's League.
Connecticut--Norwich, Rose of New England League.
Florida--Jacksonville Woman's Christian Industrial and Protective Union; The Phyllis Wheatley Chatauqua Circle, Jacksonville; The Afro-American Woman's Club, Jacksonville.
Georgia--Atlanta Woman's Club; Harriet Beecher Stowe Club, Macon; Columbus, Douglass Reading Circle; Augusta, Woman's Protective Club; Woman's Club of Athens.
Indiana--The Booker T. Washington Club, Logansport.
Illinois--Chicago, Ida B. Wells Club; Chicago, Phyllis Wheatley Club; Chicago, Woman's Civic League.
Kansas--Sierra Leone Club; Kansas City Club.
Kentucky--Louisville, Woman's Improvement Club; Echstein Daisy Club, Cane Springs.
Louisiana--New Orleans, Phyllis Wheatley Club.
Massachusetts--Boston, Woman's Era Club; Boston, Lend-a-Hand Club; Boston Female Benevolent Firm; Boston, E. M. Thomas League; Boston Calvary Circle; New Bedford Woman's Loyal Union; Salem, Woman's Protective Club; Chelsea, B. T. Tanner Club; New Bedford, St. Pierre Ruffin Club; Cambridge, Golden Rule Club.
Minnesota--Minneapolis, Ada Sweet Pioneer Club; Minneapolis and St. Paul, Twin City Woman's Era Club; St. Paul, Woman's Loyal Union and John Brown Industrial Club.
Missouri--Jefferson City Woman's Club; St. Louis, F. E. W. Harper League; St. Joseph, F. E. W. H. League; St. Louis Suffrage Club; St. Louis Phyllis Wheatley Club; St. Louis Woman's Club; St. Louis Married Ladies' Thimble Club.
Michigan--Married Ladies' Nineteenth Century Club.
New York--New York and Brooklyn, Woman's Loyal Union; Buffalo Woman's Club; Harlem Woman's Sympathetic Union; Rochester Woman's Club; New York and Brooklyn, W. A. A. Union.
Nebraska--Omaha Woman's Club; Woman's Improvement Club.
Pennsylvania--Pittsburg and Allegheny F. E. W. H. League; Woman's Loyal Union, Pittsburg; Washington Young Woman's Twentieth Century Club.
Ohio--Toledo Woman's Club.
Rhode Island--Newport Woman's League; Providence Working Woman's League.
Tennessee--Knoxville, Woman's Mutual Improvement Club; Memphis Coterie Migratory Assembly; Memphis, Hook's School Association; Phyllis Wheatley Club, Nashville; Jackson, Woman's Club; Jackson, W. C. T. U.
Texas--Fort Worth Phyllis Wheatley Club.
Virginia--Woman's League of Roanoke; Richmond Woman's League; Cappahoosic Gloucester A. and I. School Club; Urbana Club; Lynchburg Woman's League; Lexington Woman's Club.
District of Columbia--Washington, D. C., Ladies' Auxiliary Committee; Washington League; Washington, Lucy Thurman W. C. T. U.; Woman's Protective Union, Washington.
West Virginia--Wheeling, Woman's Fortnightly Club.
The First Sociological Club of Atlanta grew out of interest in the Conferences held at Atlanta University According to its constitution, "Its object shall be to improve in all practical ways the social condition of the colored people of this vicinity and thereby promote the welfare of all the people. The improvement of the home life of the poor shall be the objective point of its endeavors."
Besides these efforts there are numbers of small local societies for distributing
direct relief to the poor; there are also such organizations as the Woman's Christian Temperance Association, the Young Men's Christian Association, and the like. Recently a number of congresses have sprung up to discuss the Negro problems. The earliest was the Lake Mohonk Negro Conference to which usually no Negroes were invited. Booker T. Washington founded the first regular Negro conference conducted by Negroes, and it has had great success. The conference at Atlanta is practically entirely conducted by Negroes now, save that it meets at the University and the University publishes its reports. The Hampton Conference is also conducted in part by Negroes.
In the foregoing reports no mention has been made of Negro schools. even in the case of those wholly conducted by Negroes. This omission has been intentional, and was made because, first, Negro schools are pretty well known; and, secondly, the whole subject of Negro education was deemed too broad to be treated in this inquiry, and is reserved for further study. Of course in any complete study of efforts for social bettermet schools would stand first in importance.
We have reviewed in detail the efforts for social betterment of the following organizations:
* Two partially reported, are not counted here.
This we must remember represents only a part of the benevolent and reformatory activity of Negroes in a few cities of the South. It includes many of the more important enterprises, but not all even of them. It gives a rough, incomplete and yet fairly characteristic picture of what the freedmen's sons are doing to better their social condition.
The first point of interest we have in this picture is a scientific one. No more interesting example of the growth of organizations within a group could be adduced. Here in a half-century, or at most a century, we have epitomized that intricate specialization of the different human activities, and that adaptation of the thoughts and actions of men to the thoughts and actions about them, which we call advance in civilization. The process here has been hastened, the environment has had unusual features, the action of the group unusual hindrances; and yet we catch here a faint idea of what human progress really means, and how infinitely complicated its methods are. Compared with modern civilized groups the organization of action among American Negroes is extremely simple. So much so that most persons not acquainted with the matter regard them as one vast unorganized, homogeneous mass. And yet there are among them 23,000 churches, with unusually wide activities, and spending annually at least $10,000,000. There are thousands of secret socieities, with their insurance
and social features, large numbers of beneficial societies with their economic and benevolent cooperation; there is the slowly expanding seed of cooperative business effort seeking to systematize and economize the earnings and expenditures of millions of dollars. Finally, there are the slowly evolving organs by which the group seeks to stop and minimize the anti-social deeds and accidents of its members. This is a picture of all human striving--unusually simple, with local and social peculiarities, but strikingly human and worth further study and attention.
Again, we have a scientific interest in the kinds of organs with which this group is seeking to accomplish certain ends. Nowhere can the persistence of human institutions be better exemplified. Men seldom invent new ways of social advance, they rather change and adapt old ways to new conditions. The communism of the African forests with its political and religious leadership is a living, breathing reality on American soil to-day, even after 250 years of violent change--strangely altered, to be sure, and shorn of many peculiarities.
The African clan life of blood relatives became the clan life of the plantation; the religious leader became the head of the religious activity of the slaves, and of whatever other group action was left; monogamy without legal sanction was little more than thinly veiled polygamy. Then came emancipation, and the church resumed more of the functions of the old tribal life, while the minister added political and economic functions to his religious duties. Next the church itself began to differentiate organizations for different functions; economic and cooperative action became the business of the beneficial society and secret society; and benevolence, of special associations and institutions; finally, cooperative business and insurance sprang from the beneficial societies. How curious a chapter is this of the adaptation of social methods and ways of thinking to the environment of real life!
The second point of interest in this study lies in the light these facts, few and scattered as they are, may throw on the solution of the Negro problems. Here we must first notice that the race prejudice of whites acts so as to isolate this group and to throw upon it the responsibility of evolving its own methods and organs of civilization. The problem of cooperation among the members of the group becomes then the central serious problem. And cooperation is peculiarly hard for a nation of slaves. Moreover, this process under the present circumstances has to be artificially quickened. We want the Negro to advance toward civilization much more quickly than would be the case if he were otherwise situated. This quickened process itself gives rise to new problems. There then lies the reason and excuse for outside aid. The nation helps the Negro not simply to recompence the injustice long done him, but rather to make it possible for him to accomplish more quickly a work which usually takes centuries. Nor is it impossible to give such aid effectually. Modern civilization is continually trying it in the case of its slums and rabble, and has had some marked success.
It is, however, a delicate process, in which the chances of error in two ways are about equal. The group may be helped so much that it wil cease to help itself; or it may be helped so little or so injudiciously that
its best efforts will leave it unprogressive and discouraged. For this reason the first step, before aid is given, should be a thorough study and knowledge of the situation. One guide here is the the initiative of the Negroes themselves. If they are found striving in new directions, as today toward asylums, homes and hospitals, this is a pretty fair indication of a social want, and judicious aid to such enterprises can be applied usually with gratifying results. On the other hand, there will always be fields for aid to anticipate future wants and efforts, which only trained thinkers and observers can foresee.
At present even the few efforts of Negroes toward benevolent enterprises are highly gratifying and deserving of active aid and encouragement. The pressing need of the coming decade will be organized work or rescue and reformation among Negroes--benevolence in its broadest and best sense, and not as pure alms-giving. For the establishment of such work the great hindrance among the Negroes themselves is their poverty, even among the better classes. If the economic condition of the best classes of Negroes were better then relief work could be broadened.
The question, therefore, resolves itself into a call for more light on the economic condition of the Negro, and to this subject the Atlanta Conferences of the next few years will devote their energies.
The Third Atlanta Conference for the study of the Negro problems convened in Ware Memorial Chapel, Atlanta University on Tuesday night. May 24, 1898, at 8 P. M. The President of the University, Dr. Horace Bumstead, as presiding officer welcomed the conference in a short address.
He congratulated the members upon the success of the previous conferences; the attention which they had attracted from the press and public proved that the subjects discussed were not only interesting but timely; moreover the formation of several sociological clubs for practical work is a good sign. The subject of this year's investigation: The Efforts of Negroes for Their Own Social Betterment, he also considered opportune. It is especially necessary among the Negro people that the better educated classes begin to recognize the fact that the chief work of the social reformation of the masses devolves upon them; the measures of social reform are always of two kinds: remedial and preventive; and although we need jails, reformatories, asylums and hospitals, after all the wiser work is so to educate the masses as to prevent crime, insanity and disease. This conference may be able to point out some method of preventive effort along with the remedial measures. The conference is again to be congratulated on the wide field of study and investigation which lies before it: economic questions of occupation and property, educational problems of schools and colleges, moral questions of crime--all these are possible subjects of future study and discussion.
Finally the president reminded the Conference not to lose sight of the ultimate aim of these conferences, the solution of the Negro problems; and certainly one great step toward the solution is the independent study of the question by Negroes themselves and spontaneous efforts at reform. In this way these problems reduce themselves after all to the old problems of humanity and we may surely look forward to a time when the unification of the American people will be complete and these special problems will disappear.
After the opening speech by the president the work of the Conference was begun. The first evening was given to a general report of the year's investigation and a suggestion for future work.
Dr. W. E. B. DuBois, Professor of Economics and History, presented the general report, dwelling first on the aims and methods of sociological research, and then presenting a series of charts and figures to illustrate the efforts which Negroes are making in various cities for their own social betterment. He was followed by Mr. George A. Towns ('94), with a paper which was a review of official statistics already gathered by the government on the subject of the economic condition of the Negro, with conclusions as to the field open for future study.
Discussion followed these papers, and after appointing a committee on resolutions the first session adjourned.
On Wednesday afternoon a General Mothers' Meeting, designed to reach the mothers of school children was held. The following papers were read:
An interesting general discussion followed each paper.
The second regular session of the Conference met Wednesday night May 25, and was designed to present particular examples of benevolent and reform work in various cities.
Letters of regret on account of their inability to be present at the conference were read from Professor Edward Cummings of Harvard University, Professor Edmund J. James of the University of Chicago, Hon. Carroll D. Wright of the U. S. Labor Bureau, Professor Katherine Coman of Wellesley College and others. A report on Negro mortality for the past year was presented by the recorder, Mr. L. M. Hershaw ('86).
The following program was then carried out:
"The Charitable Work of Negro Churches" Rev. H. H. Proctor, Pastor 1st Congregational Church, Atlanta, Ga. "The Carrie Steele Orphanage" Miss Perry, ('90). "Efforts of the Negro for Social Betterment" in Augusta, Ga., Miss Mary C. Jackson ('85) in Petersburg, Va., Professor J. M. Colson, Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute.
Discussion followed these papers; Rev. Joseph Smith ('76) spoke of charitable and reformatory work in Chattanooga, Tenn. Mr. Matthews, of the city public schools gave an account of the First Sociological club of Atlanta. Dr. W. T. Penn, Dr. J. R. Porter and others discussed other phases.
The committee on resolutions, consisting of Mrs. A. H. Logan, Rev. H. H. Proctor, Dr. W. E. B. DuBois, Dr. J. R. Porter and Rev. F. H. Henderson, presented their report which was adopted. The conference after authorizing the chairman to appoint standing committees then adjourned.
F. H. Henderson.
G. A. Towns.
The Third Atlanta Conference has studied some typical efforts of Negroes toward their own social betterment in nine Southern cities. It has given especial attention to the charitable and reformatory work of Negro churches, secret societies and rescue institutions, and to efforts in co-operative business. As a result of this inquiry the Conference offers these recommendations:
cooperative business effort among Negroes. Failures may be expected in the future, but they will have their educational value. Modest efforts, however, in the line of building associations, and perhaps in retailing groceries and fuel, ought to succeed. Consumers' leagues, too, might save much money and inconvenience. The Corresponding Secretary of the Conference would be glad to furnish information and advice on these points.
The following six papers were among these submitted to the Conference. They are in all cases written by colored men and women who have had an opportunity of studying at first hand the subjects on which they write. The Rev. H. H. Proctor, for instance, is the pastor of one of the most effective Negro church organizations of Atlanta, and is a graduate of Fisk University and the Yale Theological School. Dr. H. R. Butler is a physician; he is a graduate of Meharry Medical School, and belongs to a number of societies in Atlanta. Professor J. M. Colson is a graduate of Dart-mouth College, and a professor in a Virginia school. His life-long residence and wide acquaintance in Petersburg enabled him to make by far the best local study reported. Mrs. Helen A. Cook is the wife of the former tax-collector of the District of Columbia, and is the pioneer of organized benevolent work among colored women. Miss Perry is a recent graduate of Atlanta University, and a teacher in the orphanage of which she writes. Mr. L. M. Hershaw, a graduate of Atlanta University, is in the government service at Washington. He is Recorder of the Conference and continues this year his interesting work of watching the course of the Negro death rate in various cities.
There will be found in the matter here presented some points and figures already referred to in the general treatment. The repetition, however, is necessary to the different point of view.
It is estimated by an investigator in the Department of Sociology, Atlanta University, that of every dollar spent by the Negro churches of Atlanta, Ga., less than two cents is given for direct charity.*
* Mr. G. F. Porter, '99. His table of the charity in nine Negro churches in Atlanta is as follows:
RAISED PER YEAR.
$ 19 45
* Mr. G. F. Porter, '99. His table of the charity in nine Negro churches in Atlanta is as follows:
The first is the poverty of the masses of the Negro people, arising from well known causes in the past and low wages at present.
A second and more important reason lies in the lack of organization for this special purpose; very few of the churches have organizations for this kind of work. The want of organization makes the benevolence unsystematic and unintelligent.
The third and still more important reason for lack of charitable activities is the extent to which lodges and insurance societies absorb the energies and savings of the church members. Every church has one or more of these societies which, although not officially connected with the churches, nevertheless are in reality a part of them.
The first defect can be met only by instilling lessons of thrift and economy in the people, so that they will expend their money to better advantage.
The second defect of organization can only be met by carefully organized charitable societies in each church. As it is now there is no system; a special appeal for a special case is made and people give according to their momentary feelings; but the principle of systematic giving is not developed. Again, there must be more intelligent investigation of the proper objects of charity. There is much deception practiced now, which hurts the general cause. One of the favorite methods among the colored people is to solicit money to bury a dead relative, and many fraudulent appeals for such purposes are made.
The question of lodges and insurance societies is a difficult one; they are strongly entrenched and do much good; nevertheless the small insurance business is greatly overdone and hinders thrift and benevolence. The church could in many ways do away with the necessity of so many of these societies. Especially should the Negro church enter upon the general work of rescue and reform among the lower classes of Negroes. One cause of the neglect of this work in the past is the fact that nearly all the churches are in debt. Some are struggling terribly to keep out of the auctioneer's hands. By the time the members meet their church obligations there is little left for reform work.
Atlanta, with her back alleys and slums, is a fine field of work. The churches of the city might parcel out the field and each take a particular set of alleys for the work of general betterment. Again, there might be a matron for Negro girls at the city prison, as there is for white girls, and the churches might support one.
Finally, all churches should unite to support the New Florence Crittenden Home, just established by the Negroes of this city of Atlanta. An encouraging beginning has been made. The work progresses. Every church should subscribe liberally. Rescue circles should be formed in every church. The shameless districts should be regularly canvassed, and a way of escape be made for every erring girl that wants to lead a pure life. Is it not high time we stop our shouting, be sober, open our eyes, and do something to save the little black girls that are tripping head-long down to hell? I lay this question solemnly upon the consciences of the colored churches of Atlanta.
There are five lodges of Masons in Atlanta, with a total membership of not less than 1,000. The monthly dues are 50 cents per member. They probably have an income of $5,000. This money is used to care for the sick and bury the dead, and assist the widows and orphans of deceased members. They own no real estate in the city, but they are joint owners together with other lodges in the State of a large tract of land near Americus, Ga., on which the order is building a home and school for orphans and retreat for widows of dead members. The Masons have an endowment insurance department, which pays relatives $200 at death. It is not certain, however, that this department will be retained much longer.
There are five lodges of Odd Fellows in the city, with a total membership of 612. The monthly assessment is 50 cents, and the annual income about $3,772 a year. This is spent largely in sick and death benefits. One of the lodges owns a building lot, on which it intends to erect a hall, and the general order is to build a widows' and orphans' home in the near future.
Three or four years ago there were three lodges of the Knights of Pythias in the city. Now there is but one active lodge and one lodge of the women's department, the Ladies' Court. They have an endowment department, which pays $100 to $300 at death. This order has in the past done an excellent work in the city.
There are two lodges of Good Samaritans, with an income of about $1,500 annually. They formerly owned one of the best halls possessed by the Negroes of the State, but lost it through mismanagement. This order has a department for children, and seeks to inculcate the habit of systematic saving among them.
There are two lodges of the Daughters of Bethel, the Original and the Independent. Both have a large membership, and the Original lodge owns valuable property and has a good bank account. Their members pay 25 cents a month and receive $2 a week when sick and $35 at death. An extra assessment of 25 cents is levied when a death occurs, so that the society is a pretty safe institution. The annual income of these lodges cannot be less than $1,200. They have relieved hundreds of people, not only by their sick benefits, but by friendly visitation and nursing. They also loan small sums of money at a low rate of interest.
There are four lodges of this order with a large membership. They own no real estate but are in good financial condition. They are conducted like the other societies.
There are a large number of other societies of which only a few can be named. The Coachmen's Assembly is a new organization--a sort of trades union. It has many members. The Fort Street Benevolent Association and the United Friendly Society both have a considerable membership.
The total income of these secret and beneficial societies can only be estimated; after a close study of the matter I believe that they must raise annually in Atlanta no less than $25,000. On the whole, this money has been honestly if not always wisely expended, although some cases of misappropriation of funds have occurred.
|NAME.||When Organized.||Number of Members.||Annual Income.||REMARKS.|
|Helping Hand, 1st Congregational Church||1872||40||$ 120||Benefits paid in 5 years, $255; benevolence, $25.|
|Rising Star, Wheat Street Baptist Church||1879||168||250||Benefits paid in 5 years, $370; donations, etc., $50; owns cemetery lot for its poorer members.|
|Daughters of Bethel, Bethel Church||1874||175||525||Donations in 5 years. $125; benefits in 5 years, $580.|
|Ladies' Court of Calanthe||1891||15||72||Benefits $590 since 1891.|
|Daughters of Friendship Union No. 1, Friendship Baptist Church||1869||150||450||Benefits 5 years, $430; donates much to the church.|
|Fort St. Benevolent Mission.||1897||390||Benefits 1 year, $190.|
|Daughters of Plenty||1892||115||250||Benefits in 4 years, $200; secession from Daughters of Bethel.|
|Pilgrims Progress, Park St. Church||1891||120||360||Benefits in 5 years, $600.|
|Sisters of Love, Wheat St. Baptist Church||1880||190||570||Has $600 in bank.|
The colored population of Petersburg is 13,000. There are 12 colored churches--8 Baptist, 2 Methodist, 1 Presbyterian and 1 Episcopal. All the churches save one own their places of worship. The total enrollment is 7,768, and the active membership is 4,062; the church property is valued at $114,760; the indebtedness is $4,579; the income for the past year was $11,653,72; the annual expense was $11,045; the sum of $900.35 was expended for charity by nine churches, the other churches keeping no record of their charitable work; 81 persons and an orphan home are reported as having been helped.
The organization of church work is far from being complete. Christian Endeavor and young people's denominational societies are slowly growing in favor. Such relief work as is attempted is carried on by each congregation mainly for its own members. Benevolent societies exist in most of the churches for the purpose of helping the sick and burying the dead. Their members pay from 5 to 10 cents monthly; they receive $1.50, $1.00 and 50 cents per week, according to the number of weeks sick, and $15.00 and $20.00 death benefits. Only members of the church society get assistance. Nearly all the churches make some effort to care for the aged and poor sick. Outside of this there is little or no organized charitable work. Two churches have branch or mission Sunday-schools. In the true sense of the term there is no local missionary work supported by our churches--the missionary societies scheduled are adjuncts of the Home and Foreign Missionary Societies of their respective denominations.
In all the churches the constant struggle to obtain money to pay current expenses is so great that little energy is left to look after the spiritual development of the people.
The only recognition of the social needs of the young people is evidenced in the annual picnic and Christmas tree. Two good signs are to be noted; The growing sentiment against the use of the church edifice for anything else than religious exercises and the demand for an educated and clean ministry.
Reports have been obtained from more than 40 secret societies. Their actual membership is 1,246; they own real estate to the value of $7,450; their income for last year amounted to $4,746.27; they paid out for sick benefits $770.25; for death benefits, $1,369.05; and aided 250 persons. These societies pay sick benefits of $1.00 or $2.00 weekly, and death bene fits ranging from $20 to $125. The orders are establishing "endowment
funds," so that it is possible to give a much larger death benefit than could otherwise be given. For example, the local society pays $25 out of its treasury and the order $100 to the heirs of the beneficiary in the case of a $125 death claim. Two of the orders scheduled are attempting very praise worthy organized charity work in the way of Old Folks' Homes.
Besides the care of the sick and the burial of the dead these societies are accomplishing much good in the development of our people. The keeping of records, the transaction of business in the local and general gatherings, the contact with one another, etc., are training us in a manner quite as important as that obtained in the school. It is worthy of note that our women share with our men the advantages of the organizations, for they are eligible to membership in all excepting the Masons and Odd Fellows. The place of these institutions in our social life is not fully appreciated.
Beneficial or benevolent societies, as they are called, date back more than fifty years. There are still many, but the insurance companies, white and colored, are taking their places. Twenty-one beneficial societies, with a membership of 1,542, and three mutual aid associations, with a membership of 19,553, are reported. The twenty-one beneficial societies reported a total annual income of $3,076.49, total expenditure for sick and death benefits, $2,478.81; amount of real estate or other property, $1,735.87. Some of these societies have a large membership; with but few exceptions, the members pay 25 cents monthly, or 5 cents per week, with a small tax quarterly or semi-annually, and an assessment of 12 or 25 cents on the death of a member. These are local organizations and many of them under proper management could be easily transformed into strong cooperative business enterprises.
Petersburg has four Negro insurance companies; two have their home offices here and two are branch offices. Three of them report 19,553 members; if this membership is reduced by 50% the actual number will be more nearly represented; their income for last year was $8,869.82; they expended for sick and death benefits the sum of $3,500; they own no real estate; their other property is valued at $675. These companies pay sick and death benefits. The death benefit is small in proportion to the premiums; their drawing feature is the sick benefits, which the beneficiary can get without dying to win. Their rates are from 5 to 50 cents weekly for sick benefits ranging from $1.50 to $10.00 per week and death benefits from $15.00 to $110.00. They employ twenty-five or more agents or clerks, and are closely imitating the white industrial insurance companies, which are partly responsible for this new enterprise since they refused to employ colored agents. Here is a very promising field, both for business and the application of sound methods of insurance. The True Reformers, besides their work as an order, carry on an insurance business. They issue two policies of $200 and $500 respectively.
Petersburg has no cooperative stores now, though such enterprises have been founded from time to time in the past. Ignorance of busines methods
and lack of moral basis rather than the failure of the people to patronize them, is responsible for their non-existence.
There are many children's societies, an increasing number of clubs, and other organizations in the city, which have not been reported for various reasons. Three children's societies are reported under this head; their membership is 59; their income for the last twelve months was $114.61; and their expenditures for sick and death benefits amounted to $66.60.
Excepting a Baptist academy and an orphan home conducted under the same management, our educational institutions are supported by the city. State or white church societies.
Leaving out the clubs, the tendencies of all these societies are good They are unifying and educating our people, and, in a simple yet effective way, are rendering much needed help. No great effort has been organized in our midst, but there is abroad a spirit that something must be done. This feeling will crystalize into action. Under intelligent and honest leadership these organizations can be made the nucleus for grand business concerns which can give us assistance and opportunity for the use of energy for which, at present, no provision is made.
The Women's League was organized in June, 1892 and is therefore six years old at present. Its work falls under the following heads:
The Kindergartens--now increased to seven--gather in every day more than one hundred children. The stipend paid monthly to the Kindergartners, though a very modest sum, sometimes taxes heavily the slender resources of the League; the young women however, are partly repaid by the opportunity afforded them to practise, and partly by enthusiasm and a missionary spirit which in some of them seems to increase as they go on.
In addition to the regular instruction in the Mending Bureau, there was given, this year, a course in tailoring, consisting mainly in making "Auld claes look amaist as weel's the new"--in plain language, evolving one or more pairs of little trousers out of a pair of more or less dilapidated old ones, generally donated. The lessons were given by an expert and included all the processes beginning with the ripping and receiving the finishing touches from the tailor's goose.
The committee has sought to secure representation for colored women on the Board of Trustees of the Girls' Reform School, all the inmates of which are colored.
It was not the work of a day to get the names of 2000 colored women signed to the petition presented to the Attorney General. Sometimes we could only gain admittance to him or to the president through help of Hon. Geo. H. White and I shall not attempt to chronicle the number of interviews with Senators, Members of Congress, Commissioners of the District Columbia and representatives of the press. Success has not yet crowned our efforts, but we mean to ask again in July, the time when the terms of some members expire and we mean never to give up until such a reasonable request has been granted.
As you are perhaps aware, the Woman's League was represented at the Mother's Congress by two delegates--the maximum number allowed even to large organizations--and by their president, who was invited to read a paper. It occupied the usual twenty minutes, was entitled, "We Have Been Hindered, How Can We Be Helped?" and will be published with their annual report.
The delegates were Mrs. Murray, Kindergarten Committee, and Mrs. Fleetwood, Department of Mothers' Meetings, a woman so well qualified for this particular work that the results have been most gratifying and
promise even more in the future. The League was represented at the Mothers' Congress in February, 1897, by several delegates.
The Stockholders' Union, made up chiefly of League women and having as its ultimate object the building of a League Home, where our work may be centralized, is now fully organized. In less than a month the lot we have in view will be transferred to us. After the first payment we shall still have an indebtedness of $1,000, but we have faith and courage and believe we shall succeed.
An invitation from the Bethel Literary and Historical Association to occupy one of their regular evenings at the Metropolitan Church, in March, 1898, gave to the League an opportunity to present their work and aims to a large and appreciative audience. The speakers, about seven in number, were limited to fifteen minutes, each confining her remarks to one phase of our endeavor.
Mrs. Smyth--The Moral Value of Such an Organization.
Mrs. Grimke--Refining Influences of the Study of Art.
Mrs. Howard, Mending Bureau.--The Conscientious Performance of Humble Work.
Miss Jones--Affiliated Clubs; Especially the Social Improvement Club, of Howard University.
Mrs. Fleetwood--Mothers' Clubs.
Mrs. Cook--Brief History of Woman's League.
The Entertainment Committee proposes to give a combined dramatic and social affair in a large hall this summer, in the hope of raising a considerable sum of money. If it should be successful, we propose to put a part of the proceeds into the establishment of a "diet kitchen," on a small scale, with the object of supplying sterilized milk and simple foods for infants in one of the poor and crowded sections of Washington. The physicians of a neighboring "Dispensary" have assured us that the death rate in that particular locality might be reduced at least one-half by such an enterprise. This work will commence early in June and continue to the end of September.
Some of our work, as for instance, that of the Mending Bureau, is so homely that it does not show well in print, but it is greatly needed among the large and indigent colored population of Washington. Some of our efforts it is not prudent to publish too widely for fear of adverse influences, but I do hope that men who look at things in the light of reason will feel that we are sincere in our endeavor to be helpful in the onward and upward movement of our people and of mankind.
|Receipts of the League from April, 1896, to December 31, 1896.|
|Amount brought forward||$ 29 90|
|From other sources||94 90|
|From Kindergarten Normal Class||300 00|
|Donation from a friend||20|
|Donation from Mrs. A. L. Barber||10 00|
|Donation from Mrs. Pellew||25 00|
|Donation from Dr. Rankin||5 00|
|Donation from members of the League||13 50|
|Donation from pupils of the public schools||2 76|
|Donation for tuition of Kindergarten pupils||15 00|
|Donations for the support of Manassas pupil||28 33|
|Total receipts||$647 59||DISBURSEMENTS.|
|Printing||$ 18 00|
|Expenses of the Convention of the National League||217 14|
|To Y. M. C. A. for use of parlor||6 00|
|To Mrs. Pollock, teacher of Normal Kindergarten Class||283 00|
|Miss Dascom, teacher of Kindergarten pupils (two months' salary)||40 00|
|For Kindergarten material||5 19|
|For Christmas candy for pupils||70|
|For care of pupils||2 35|
|For support of Manassas pupil for four months||28 33|
|Balance||$ 40 88|
ANNA V. THOMPKINS.
The founder of this home, Carrie Steele, was born in this State, of slave parents. Though a slave like others of her race, she in some way learned to read and write. Very early in life she was left without a mother. This had the tendency to soften her heart towards all who were left in a like condition, but for a long time she was helpless to render any assistance. After she had been freed, opportunities to help others were constantly presenting themselves, and she never failed to seize every opportunity for doing good that came in her way. For years she was employed at the Atlanta Union Depot. Here she saw much of the suffering of children who were left without parents and homeless. Her heart was moved to do something for them. She had no money--not a dollar--but a way was made clear. She wrote a little book, a short history of her life, in which among other things, she said: "It is appointed to me in my old age to accomplish what I believe to be a great and glorious work, and one that shall live long after my poor frail body has dropped into the dust whence it came." And that work was the building of an orphanage for colored orphans.
Her book found ready sale, and with the proceeds and contributions from charitably disposed persons, she succeeding in securing four acres of land on the outskirts of the city, and in a little two-room house, with five orphans, she began her work of caring for the friendless children. As her work became known, friends of both races, North and South, would help her. Friends of the North remembered her and are yet remembering her with gifts of clothing.
The present Orphanage is a three-story brick structure. A hospital and school house have been recently added. Orphans of both sexes are taken into the home and cared for until a home can be found for them in some good family, or until they are able to make a livelihood for themselves. The girls are taught to cook, sew and do plain housework. The boys work on the farm. The school term is only six months long and is supported by the county. The children show an aptness that is remarkable, and even in this short time the progress made is more than satisfactory. There are at present 52 inmates of the Orphanage.
A word about the inmates of the home may prove interesting. One boy was brought to the home who had broken into a suburban post office and taken some stamps. He was ignorant and it was evident that he was not responsible. He was taken, cared for, and has since been provided for. Another, a girl, accused of arson, was rescued from the clutches of the law. She is now at the home. Three other children, whose father is serving a life sentence in the penitentiary, are with us. Little Dona Moonlight, another inmate, has no feet. She is being taught music and it is thought she will make a very good musician.
Some idea of the good that is being done through this home can be gotten when one learns that this home, which was organized in 1890, with five orphans, has sheltered 225 souls. You see, too, from preceding illustrations that in the absence of a State reformatory we have had to do reformatory work in keeping youthful wrong-doers from going to the worst. Children of criminals are being cared for, provided with a home and comforts, that they may not follow in the footsteps of their parents. In short we are taking castaways, and through God's help, striving to make of them good citizens, who will be a blessing rather than a menace to the community.
We are praying that the work may not stop here, but that it may continue to grow until we shall have a building large enough to accommodate not 60 orphans, but as many as are left uncared for, and our own workshops, where the boys may be given industrial training and the girls taught dressmaking.
I have tried, to show briefly what is being done by the Carrie Steele Orphanage toward the social betterment of the Negro. The work promises much, and the indications are that it will come up to all that it promises, and that these young people who would otherwise be useless and possibly dangerous, will become peaceful, law-abiding, industrious, Christian citizens.
The following report, which is a continuation of the report submitted to last year's Conference on the vital statistics of the cities of Atlanta, Ga., Baltimore, Md., Charleston, S. C., Memphis, Tenn., and Richmond, Va., deals with the years subsequent to those covered by last year's report. In last year's report the facts were grouped in nearly equal periods of five years. As the facts in this report cover not exceeding three years for any of the cities, it has been found necessary to treat them somewhat differently.
The following table shows the death rate per 1,000 of the population with distinction of race:
|Charleston, S. C.--|
There is to be observed in these rates, what was observed in those submitted last year--a tendency toward a diminishing death rate of the colored population. Of course there are some noticeable fluctuations of the rates, but they are not more marked than those of the white race from year to year. The rates given for the city of Memphis are to be taken with caution. They are without doubt too low for both races. Either the registration of deaths in Memphis is incomplete, or the estimated population is larger than the actual population.
The following table relates to infant mortality, and shows the death rate of children under five years per 1,000 of total population:
|Charleston, S. C.--|
The death-rate among children under five years of age does not differ materially from previous rates, though it seems that the disparity between the white and the colored rates has diminished. This disparity is still very large in Charleston. It is smallest in Atlanta.
The table which follows shows the death-rate of children under 5 per 10,000 of the total population, for Cholera Infantum, Convulsions and Stillborn:*
*The cause still-born is given for Atlanta and Richmond only.
|Charleston, S. C.--|
The largest excess of the colored over the white death rate for these causes of infant mortality is in Charleston. The excess in Atlanta seems to have increased since last year's report.
The following table shows the death-rate of the whole population per 10,000 for Consumption and Pneumonia:
|Charleston, S. C.--|
The only thing in this table deserving of special notice is the very large percentage by which the colored death-rate exceeds the white death-rate for pulmonary diseases.
The following table shows the death-rate per 10,000 for Typhoid, Scarlet and Malarial Fevers, Diarrhoea and Diphtheria:
|Charleston, S. C.--|
The colored and white death-rates approach each other nearer in this class of diseases than in any other.
The following tables shows the death rate per 10,000 for Scrofula and and Syphilis:
|Charleston, S. C.--|
The foregoing table contains, probably, a greater element of fallacy than any one, or all the other tables together. In cases where persons of means and social standing die of these infamous diseases, physicians are reluctant to issue a certificate of death that will place a stigma on the dead, or bring reproach and shame to the surviving relatives. Hence the truth with reference to death from these causes is seldom told, save in the case of persons for whom no one cares.
This report strengthens and confirms the conclusions contained in last year's report.
The two principal causes of the excessive mortality among colored people are infant mortality and pulmonary diseases. If the Negro race is to preserve a normal increase in its population, it must look to the conservation of child-life; if it is to preserve its pristine vigor and manly strength the ravages of pulmonary diseases must be checked.
|PLACE.||Date.||Population.||Total Deaths.||Death Rate per 1,000 of Total Population.||Deaths of Persons Under 5 Years.||Death Rate per 1,000 of Total Population.|
|Charleston, S. C.||1895||24,554||33,001||540||1,297||21.99||39.30||145||490||5.90||14.84|
|Charleston, S. C.||1896||24,683||33,425||521||1,348||21.10||40.32||152||508||6.15||15.19|
[NOTE.--The chief sources of error in these returns are: (a) The under-estimation of the Negro population; there can be little doubt, for instance, that there are either more than 39,000 Negroes in Atlanta, Ga., or less than 53,000 whites. (b) Defective registration of deaths, as, for instance, in Memphis. (c) Inaccurate returns of the causes of deaths. Those drawing conclusions from these figures must bear the large effect of these errors in mind. They account for the fact that nowhere save in Charleston is the absolute Negro death rate abnormally high compared with European statistics, while the white rate is in many cases abnormally low.--ED.]
|Charleston, S. C.||Charleston, S. C.||Memphis, Tenn.||Memphis, Tenn.||Atlanta, Ga.||Richmond, Va.|
|POPULATION AND DISEASE.||1895.||1896.||1896.||1897.||1896.||1896.|
|Rate per 10,000||28.50||67.21||28.31||92.44||21.77||40.69||18.27||42.59||28.23||71.95||19.41||56.89|
|Rate per 10,000||6.11||28.18||3.64||18.54||2.84||6.07||3.54||7.64||26.14||64.50||18.23||65.93|
|Rate per 10,000||18.32||19.39||14.58||21.23||6.41||9.82||7.27||13.98||10.63||15.16||8.44||8.80|
|Rate per 10,000||2.72||.40||7.66||.50||.70||.17||1.09||.37||3.59||.16||.85|