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Grand Rapids Study Club records

Identifier: Collection 082

Scope and Contents

The collection contains very few gaps in the records, even though some of the record keeping was done on scraps and waste paper. The correspondence dates to the early years of the club and details their relationship to sister organizations in the community. Also included are materials documenting their discussions and lectures over the years as well as an almost complete set of the club's yearbooks. The collection also contains a set of Pierian Club yearbooks. An incomplete scrapbook contains newspaper clippings documents the club's activities and achievements, but also one additional black and white photograph.

There are four different constitution documents in the collection, none of which are dated. All use the name Grand Rapids Study Class.

The architectural drawings of the Clubhouse are housed with other drawings in Coll. 254, Grand Rapids Buildings Collection, although they are officially part of this collection.

Material in the “Club interest” folders reflect national topics that were also being discussed locally.


  • 1904-1987


Biographical / Historical

The Grand Rapids Study Class, as it was originally called, was organized Nov. 10, 1904 “for the mutual helpfulness, literary work, and general charities.” It is said to be the first organization for black women in Grand Rapids. The records document the social and business affairs of the Club. The first yearbook was created by hand in 1905-1906. In 1906, the Club became a member of the National Federation of Women's Clubs, and also the State Chapter. In 1926 a junior club, the Pierian Club, was created for younger members. As the membership grew, the club became focused more on aiding various charities, expounding black ideals and acting as a support group for the black community in general.

The date of formal transition from the earlier name “Grand Rapids Study Class” to its later name, “Grand Rapids Study Club,” has not yet been determined, and usage of both terms overlapped for several years.

A Feb. 5, 1942 letter in this collection includes an image of a building at 427 James Ave., which the Club was purchasing as a future clubhouse. A contract and a tax history from 1935, located in the collection, suggest an even earlier association of the Club with the property. Work was begun around 1979 to propose the property at 427 James Ave. as an historic landmark. In January 1985, the Club was informed that the Paul H. Richens House/Grand Rapids Study Club Clubhouse had been listed in the Michigan State Register of Historical Places. Paul Richens (ca. 1844-1927) was a prominent early Grand Rapids builder, believed to have constructed and lived in this house.


6.25 Linear Feet (Six boxes)

Language of Materials



The Grand Rapids Study Club records document the activities and membership of this Grand Rapids, Michigan African American womens’ organization. Included are minutes, correspondence, membership lists, yearbooks, historical notes and clippings. Holdings provide information on the Club from its creation in 1904 until 1987, with the bulk of the contents from the 1930s to the early 1970s. Yearbooks from the junior club, called the Pierian Club, are also included with the collection. Historical documents and architectural drawings of the Club’s property at 427 James St. are included. That facility, cited as the Paul Richens House/Grand Rapids Study Club Clubhouse, was added to the Michigan State Register of Historic Places in 1985.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Grand Rapids Study Club, 1987, accession number 1986.028.

Related Materials

Coll. 185, the GRPL Michigan Room Copy Negatives Coll. Has a photo of a Pierian Club banquet, with name identification of members, at 185-3-45.

Finding Aid for the Grand Rapids Study Study Club records
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Grand Rapids History Center Repository

Grand Rapids Public Library
111 Library Street NE
Grand Rapids Michigan 49503 USA