Resource

Atlanta Neighborhood Union: Women Helping Women

This resource has been adapted from the New-York Historical Society’s Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow curriculum.

A black and white photograph of a neighborhood house created by the Atlanta Neighborhood Union. Black nurses dressed in white stand on the porch while a few Black women and children surround the lawn in front of the building. They look to be going to and coming from the building.
Nurses and Babies in front of Neighborhood House

Nurses and Babies in front of Neighborhood House. Neighborhood Union collection, ca. 1908-1935. Robert W. Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center

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Background

Black women’s political organizing, on a national level, was rooted in the community-based work of Black women’s clubs in local communities. The National Association of Colored Women was formed in 1896 and led by suffragist Mary Church Terrell. It fostered a national network of Black women’s clubs, and offered women opportunities to develop leadership and organizational skills.

For more information about Black women’s clubs and organizations, watch the video below:

This video is from “Women Have Always Worked,” a free massive open online course produced in collaboration with Columbia University. 

About the Image

The Atlanta Neighborhood Union was an organization of Black women in Georgia’s capital. It was founded by a group of Atlanta’s prominent Black women in 1908, two years after a race riot rocked the city and again demonstrated the Black community’s vulnerability to white violence. For the Union’s members, the safe, stable Black home was a crucial line of defense, and providing for Atlanta’s Black women and children became their mission. The group offered temporary housing, food, classes in parenting and elderly care, medical attention, and other services. Hundreds of such clubs existed around the country. They were early models of grassroots organizing and community building.

Discussion Questions

  • What can you infer about the Atlanta Neighborhood Union from this photo? What services were available? Who used them?
  • How would a strong family help people fight mistreatment?
  • Why would local organizations be important in Black communities?
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