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Swank Social Club Records

Filing title: 
Swank Social Club Records

Records of the Swank Social Club

Summary Information

J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections, UNC Charlotte
Swank Social Club
Swank Social Club records
Date [inclusive]
1.0 Linear feet
The collection contains a wide variety of records generated by the Swank Social Club—a club of African-American men in Charlotte, NC, beginning in 1934.

Preferred Citation note

Swank Social Club Papers. J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

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Biographical/Historical note

The Swank Social Club, of Charlotte, North Carolina, began as an informal gathering of boys along Sixth Street in Charlotte’s Second Ward. During their childhood, they played football and baseball in some of the vacant lots around the area. As they entered their teenage years, one of these friends, John M. Spears, suggested that they organize themselves more formally, as a club, with a name, motto, colors and flower. That organization took place in August of 1934. One of the motivating forces for organizing this group was the fact that another club, the “Socialites” whose members were older, would not admit any of these boys into their club. The charter members of the Swank Social Club were John Spears, Ray Booton, John W. Brooks, Elliot Samuels, Thomas Wyche, and John Breeden. Soon after their initial formation, the Swanks opened their membership to other boys in order to allow the organization to grow.

With the American entrance in World War II in 1942, all of these members except Thomas Wyche left home to serve in uniform. The Swanks resumed their club activities in 1946 when the members returned home to Charlotte.

Soon, the Swanks began making philanthropic donations to a number of charitable causes. Among these were the furnishing of a room at the McCrory branch of the YMCA, contributions to the United Negro College Fund, assistance to the Mecklenburg Court Volunteers and other, similar causes.

In addition to its charitable contributions, the club also became known for its own social activities. Its New Year’s Eve parties are well documented, as are its Labor Day Cookouts. The Swanks also celebrate its members’ retirement parties and other social occasions.

Though there are a number of other, similar organizations in Charlotte, the Swank Social Club eventually became Charlotte’s oldest social club. Information concerning several of the Swank’s anniversaries is contained in their archival records.

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Scope and Contents note

The collection contains a wide variety of records generated by the Swank Social Club—a club of African-American men in Charlotte, North Carolina, beginning in 1934. These records include its constitutions and bylaws, correspondence, records about its anniversaries, members, social events, minutes of meetings, financial records, newspaper clippings, memorials of deceased members, and more. There are files on one member in particular—John McDonald. McDonald owned a cafeteria that often served as the venue for many of the Swanks’ social functions. McDonald developed a sizable fortune over the years, and his used much of this money to fund some of the Swank’s charitable interests. One of his philanthropies was a scholarship endowment. There are four files in this collection concerning McDonald’s contributions to the SSC.

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Arrangement note

The collection is arranged into three series. Series I contains the club’s paper records, Series II is a large scrapbook, and Series III is a large assortment of photographs, dating from the 1950s. The files in Series I are arranged alphabetically by title.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections, UNC Charlotte 2010

9201 University City Blvd.
Charlotte, NC, 28223

Conditions Governing Access note

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Access note

Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

The Swank Social Club.

Processing Information note

Processed by Robert A. McInnes, 2010.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Materials note

Gerson Stroud papers, Mss 266

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Swank Social Club--Records and correspondence

Personal Name(s)

  • McDonald, John W. (John William), 1920-1995
  • Spears, John M. (John Merrick)


  • African American men--North Carolina--Charlotte--Societies and clubs
  • African American philanthropists--North Carolina--Charlotte
  • Clubs--North Carolina--Charlotte

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Collection Inventory

 Series I Papers 

Box Folder

Afro-American Cultural Center 1987-1991 

1 1


Box Folder

50th anniversary 1984 

1 2

60th anniversary 1944-1994 

1 3

74th anniversary 2008 

1 4

75th anniversary 2009 

1 4b
Box Folder


1 5


1 6

Constitutions 1983 

1 7

Correspondence 1960-2007 

1 8

Financial records and charitable donations 1958-1997 

1 9


Box Folder

Omega Psi Phi—Pi Phi 

1 10

Sigma Pi Phi 

1 11
Box Folder

History of the Swank Social Club 

1 12

Johnson C. Smith University - Founders' Information 1941-1982 

1 13

Labor Day Activities 1987-2010 

1 14


1 15

Mayor's Proclamation 1984 

1 16

McDonald, John W. 

Box Folder

Advisory Board 

1 17

Appreciation Dinner 1988 

1 18

McDonald's Inn 

1 19

Scholarship Endowment 1994 

1 20
Box Folder


1 21

New inductees 

1 22


1 23

Memorials 1939-1998 

1 24

Minutes of meetings 1986-2006 

1 25


1 26

Party favors 

1 27

New Year's Eve Parties 

Box Folder

1948-2009 1948-2009 

1 28


Mixed materials   2
Photographs   2

Box Folder

Undated material 

1 29

Newspaper clippings and magazine articles 1981-2010 

Recognition dinners 

Box Folder


1 31


1 32
Box Folder

Record Book 1937-1941 

1 33

Retirement parties 1980-1996 

1 34

Schedule of Hosts for monthly meetings 1959-2006 

1 35

Valentine's Dinner and Dance 2000 

1 36

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 Series III Photographs--Prints 

Box Folder item

Group photos of the Swank Social Club (and the members’ wives) at an unidentified social gathering (circa 1955) 

P45 5 P267/1-4

Unidentified social event (circa 1965) 

P45 5 P267/5-22

“The Swanks entertain for Clarke as he prepares to go to Asheville (Mrs. Blake’s home)” (circa 1970) 

P45 5 P267/23-36

Labor Day cookout Sept. 6, 1976 

P45 5 P267/37-44

Labor Day cookout Sept. 1, 1980 

P45 5 P267/45-48

Swank award ceremony 1981 

P45 6 P267/49-54

Swank social function, picturing Daisy Stroud and three SSC members getting punch at a punch bowl. 

P45 6 P267/55

Group photo of Swank members with their wives in front of an unidentified church. 

P45 6 P267/56

Group photo of Swank members in front of an unidentified church. Club members included in this picture: Werrion Stroud, Theodore Stewart, Woodard, Henry Swift, Gerson Stroud, Thomas Wyche, John McDonald, Calvin Davis, Walter Twitty, Dave Holden, Spencer Durante, William Oliver, and Eddie Byers. 

P45 6 P267/57

Funeral at the gravesite of someone from the Spears family (circa 1981) 

P45 6 P267/58-59

Swank award ceremony 1984 

P45 6 P267/60-62

Swank award ceremony 1987 

P45 7 P267/63-67

Appreciation Dinner for John W. McDonald October 23, 1988 

P45 7 P267/68-84

New Year’s Eve Breakfast and Dance December 31, 1989 

P45 7 P267/85-116

New Year’s Eve Breakfast and Dance December 31, 1990 

P45 8 P267/117-136

New Year’s Eve Breakfast and Dance December 31, 1991 

P45 8 P267/137-140

New Members intake December 19, 1992 

P45 8 P267/141

New Year’s Eve Breakfast and Dance December 31, 1992 

P45 8 P267/142-155

Labor Day September 6, 1993 

P45 8 P267/156-159

New Year’s Eve Breakfast and Dance December 31, 1993 

P45 8 P267/160-175

Unidentified social event 1994 

Scope and Contents note

[probably the 60th anniversary]

P45 9 P267/176-179

Appreciation plaque awarded to Roger L. Campbell 1994 

P45 9 P267/180-182

Award ceremony 1995 

P45 9 P267/183-198

Award ceremony November 17, 1996  

Related Archival Materials note

[see also P267/265]

P45 9 P267/199-203

Photo of a cake made for the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Swank Social Club 2004 

P45 10 P267/204

Group photo of the Swank members December 23, 2004 

P45 10 P267/205

Group photo of the Swank members December 31, 2004 

P45 10 206

Labor Day picnic September 5, 2005 

P45 10 P267/207-222

New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day January 1, 2006 

P45 10 P267/223-233

Display concerning the Swank Social Club, at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Library, Beatties Ford Branch February and March 2006 

P45 10 P267/234-244

Swank Social Club business meeting March 20, 2006 

P45 10 P267/245-252

Swank Labor Day Cookout September 3, 2007 

P45 10 P267/253

Swank Social Club 73rd Anniversary, January 1, 2008. 

P45 10 P267/254-258

Labor Day Cookout September 1, 2008 

P45 10 P267/259-264

Award ceremony November 17, 1996 

Related Archival Materials note

[see also P267/99-203]

P45 10 P267/265

Award ceremony (circa 2000) 

P45 10 P267/266-267

Calendar 2010 

Scope and Contents note

With two photographs: 1 photo showing the members of the Swank Social Club and another showing the members’ wives.

P45 10 P267/268
Box Folder Photographs-Prints

Induction of new members 2014 

Scope and Contents note

Ten photos taken at the induction ceremony, 2014. Only one photo identifies subjects: Pres. James A. Gaither, Eric Gerard Davis (new member), and Ervin Dunham (sponsor)

P45 10 P267:269-279

Walter Dial, jr. and William H. Yongue, jr 1996 November 17 

Scope and Contents note

Photo taken at retirement/recognition dinner for Dial and Yongue.

P45 10 P267:275

New Year's Eve--Oversize 2012-2013 


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 Series II Scrapbook 1934-1946 

Scope and Contents note

This is a large scrapbook, bound in plywood covers, that contains information, photos and mementos about the Swank Social Club from its earliest days.


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