The Organzations collection depicts primarly African American civic, social, fraternal, professional, civil rights, and other organizations, dating from the late 1890s to the mid-1980s. The collection, which is strongest in its representation of social groups, civil rights groups, and fraternities and sororities, for the period covering the 1940s to the 1970s, includes single portraits and group portraits of officers and membership; views of meetings, conventions, and other assemblies; assorted luncheons, teas, dinners, and award presentations; fund raising and community service events; and parties, dances, and other social gatherings. Many of the organizations depicted are New York based; some local chapters of national organizations are represented. Some organizations, while not strictly African American in membership, either serve African Americans or emphasize the activities of members who are. Images of fraternal, labor, and political groups are limited.
Among the organizations represented are the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the National Urban League, the New York Urban League, the National Council of Negro Women, the Improved Benevolent Protective Order of the Elks of the World, the Negro Actors Guild, the Black Panther Party, and the Universal Negro Improvement Association. Fraternities and sororities depicted include the New York Alumni Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, Omega Psi Phi, Phi Beta Sigma, and Phi Delta Kappa.
Images include snapshot views of the Universal Negro Improvement Association-owned Black Star Line vessel, S.S. Booker T. Washington nee S.S. General Goethals, under sail, as well as some of her onboard passengers, during an unidentified voyage; activities surrounding the New York Baptist State Convention of the National Baptist Covention, U.S.A., meeting at the Holy Trinity Baptist Church in Brooklyn, N.Y., October 21-25, 1946; participants at various National Urban League Beaux Arts Balls held in the 1940s; events sponsored by the Delta Sigma Theta sorority, including a reception for opera singer Leontyne Price at the Schomburg Center, May 19, 1985; group portraits of members of the Niagara Movement (1905 and 1907), the predecessor to the N.A.A.C.P.; and a group portrait with W.E.B. Du Bois, William Pickens and members of the N.A.A.C.P. Junior Auxiliary, in Cleveland, Ohio, July 2, 1929.