Business and Professional Women's Club, Inc.
Brief History of the Elliottorians
The year 1928 was calm, but destined to precede a catastrophic period in our nation’s history.
It was at that time, Mrs. Elizabeth Nesbitt Elliott, Girl’s Secretary at the Lucy Thurman YWCA, realized her work was not broad enough in its scope. There was a group of employed secretaries and clerks in the city with potential for becoming a deeply significant and viable community force. These women had other assets equally as valuable as their work skills. They were articulate, alert and had the respect of the community for the contribution they were making in the business world. Mrs. Elliot’s concern led to direct action and in September 1928 she organized the ELLLIOTTORIAN BUSINESS WOMEN’S CLUB. It became the first club of black business women in the City of Detroit, as well as the State of Michigan.
In as much as Mrs. Elliott was the founder, there was unanimity within the group that her name is selected and that it would be equated with that which was good, progressive and significant in the Detroit community. After the name came the purpose: To stimulate interest in Business Women, to build a program on sound educational principles, emphasizing Fellowship, Charity and Leadership.
The group established the following objectives stimulating interest of its members in businesses throughout the city, building an educational program designed to help others to develop leadership qualities in its members, to promote better community living in general and above all to professionalize the business women who were destined to fill creditable positions in city, county, federal and private enterprises.
Elliottorians courageously undertook sponsoring of Detroit’s first observation of “Negro History Week.” Bringing Dr. Carter G. Woodson of Detroit as the club’s first speaker marked this celebration publicly on Sunday February 15, 1931. Subsequently, it became an annual event bringing a succession of notable Black Leaders from around the country.
There were many successful ventures, but the need for an effective on-going means for raising funds brought into being the BEAUX ARTS BALL in 1947. It has continued to be a major fund raising effort through which charitable efforts of the club are financed and has enabled Elliottorians to award four-year continuing scholarships to deserving young men and women regardless of race, creed or color to Wayne State University and other educational institutions of higher learning.
The organization was incorporated in 1948 and has always been cognizant of change, from the passing of an era to the arrival of a “newday” but are forever mindful of basic objectives which have served the club well through the years. Realizing that the fields of endeavor have broadened, that educational and cultural opportunities have expanded and that numerous new careers are now open to the youth of today, Elliottorians felt that the “field of harvest” needed additional hands. Therefore 1973 saw the inception of Elliottorians II to provide a means of augmenting their efforts to meet the needs of young career women and to serve as a springboard into the parent body, Elliottorians I.
Working within the framework of ideals and goals established, Elliottorians have accelerated their program and accomplishments over the past 78 years. In the nineties, Elliottorians applied for and received 501 (c) (3) Tax Exempt status.
In 1997, a major milestone was reached; The club received its largest single donation in the amount of $17,000. This donation was given to establish a four-year scholarship for one of the awardees selected by the club.
Moving into the new millennium, we were honored by the City of Detroit as one of the oldest Public Service organizations during its 300th Birthday Celebration.
True to our prophetic motto, “By Our Efforts We Hope to Rise”, the dreams of our founder and the ideas of the Charter Members are yet alive and bearing rich fruits in the Elliottorian Business and Professional Women’s Club, Inc.
Original History written by Ruth W. Clemons
“By Our Efforts We Hope To Rise”