State University of New York at Albany
1.13 cubic ft.
The M.C. Lawton Civic and Cultural Club Records showcase the operations of the first black organization in Albany that was actively involved in community service and educational advancement, which was founded in 1919.
Processed in 2012 by Geoffrey A. Huth, Nicholas Webb.
Items in this manuscript group were donated to the University Libraries, M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, by the M.C. Lawton Civic and Cultural Club, Inc. on April 17, 1990. An additional accession was received from Carol Praylor, President, in September 2004.
The materials are located onsite in the department.
The M.C. Lawton Club has its beginnings in the Women's Auxiliary of the 15th Infantry, a black unit active during World War I. At the end of the war, the members of the auxiliary decided to continue to associate as they had for the previous four years. In April 1919, the club was founded as the Marie C. Lawton Club in Albany, N.Y., as a branch of the Empire State Federation of Women's Clubs. The club's goals were to "promote the welfare of people wherein needed, and to assist in civic affairs." The club was the first black organization in Albany actively involved in "community service, educational advancement, race relations and self-development." An important activity of the club was its annual concert showcasing promising young black musicians. The Club regularly sponsored dances to support causes such as scholarships for college students and Haiti. In 1926/1927, the Club was involved in advocacy on a number of important issues including performances by minstrels in the Albany Public Schools and housing conditions in the city. Out of this work the Club developed a five-point plan whcih was eventually taken over by the Albany Inter-Racial Council. By 1955, the club had consistently begun to use the name M.C. Lawton Civic and Cultural Club.
The M.C. Lawton Club has close ties to other civic and cultural clubs in the Capital District, including the Albany Inter-Racial Council and the Community Chest. The club is affiliated with the Empire State Federation of Women's Clubs, Inc.; the Northeastern Association of Women's Clubs; and the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs, Inc.
 M.C. Lawton Civic and Cultural Club, Inc. Constitution, 1955.
 M.C. Lawton Civic and Cultural Club, Inc. Musical Program, 1978.
The minutes (1927-65, 1971-75) of the M.C. Lawton Club are its most substantial records. The earliest minutes (1919-26) are missing, but the minutes that remain give a good picture of the activities of the organization and how well it met those goals. Only scattered minutes for 2002-2004 are available in this collection. The remainder of the Club's minutes remain in with its members. Especially interesting are the earlier minutes when the club fought for racial justice at the local level in the fields of housing, education, and employment, presenting black speakers such as Countee Cullen to the population as a whole and decrying minstrel shows.
The correspondence (1921-23, 1928-31, 1943, 1950, 1953-59, 1973, 1977-78) primarily concerns routine administrative matters. Although the correspondence covers a wide range of years, most of the correspondence dates from the 1920's, 1950's, and 1970's, and consists mainly of thank you notes or other routine correspondence.
The reports (1928, 1930, 1932, 1935, 1949, 1973, 1975) are not extensive, but these are full of information about the club's activities. The musical programs (1936, 1955, 1957, circa 1964, 1968, 1971, 1975-80, 1985-87) contain little additional information other than the programs, which do include brief historical sketches of the club.
For related records, see the records of the Empire State Federation of Women's Clubs, Inc. A photograph from the collection is available for viewing online from the University at Albany Libraries' Digital Collections database.
The collection is organized into the following series:
Series 1 is arranged chronologically while Series 2, is arranged alphabetically.
Access to this record group is unrestricted.
The researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming with the laws of copyright. Whenever possible, the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives will provide information about copyright owners and other restrictions, but the legal determination ultimately rests with the researcher. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be discussed with the Head of Special Collections and Archives.
Identification of specific item, series, box, folder, M.C. Lawton Civic and Cultural Club Records, 1921-2004. M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University at Albany, State University of New York (hereafter referred to as [shortened name]).
Inclusive Date: 1927-2004
Inclusive Date: 1921-2004