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Swank Social Club records

Identifier: MS0267

Scope and Contents

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 he 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 Swank Social Club.


  • Creation: 1934 - 2014


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

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.

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 McCrorey 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.


1 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The collection contains a wide variety of materials generated by the Swank Social Club—a club of African-American men in Charlotte, NC, beginning in 1934.


The collection is arranged into six series, one of which (Events) is further divided into subseries. The six series are: Membership Materials, Events, Fraternities, John W. McDonald, Assorted materials and Photographs.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Swank Social Club.

Related Materials

Gerson Stroud papers, Mss 266

Processing Information

Processed by Robert A. McInnes, 2010.

Records of the Swank Social Club
Robert A. McInnes
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscript Collections, J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections and University Archives, UNC Charlotte Repository

Atkins Library, UNC Charlotte
9201 University City Blvd
Charlotte NC 28223 United States

About this Site

Finding aids are guides to archival collections, including manuscripts, university records, and oral history collections. These guides help you find physical collections which can be viewed in the Dalton Reading Room on the 10th floor of Atkins Library. A small number of finding aids link to digital content online. Please contact us to learn more or to schedule an appointment:

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