History of the NAASC


Prepared leadership is not a contrived notion but simply the divine force behind the National Alumnae Association of Spelman College (NAASC). To understand the Association, one must first understand Spelman College and the "truths" that have driven Spelman women. The Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary was founded in 1881 when the first eleven students met with founders Sophia B. Packard and Harriet E. Giles in the basement of the oldest Negro Baptist church in Atlanta, the Friendship Baptist Church.

Though the popular mythology suggested that these two women approached such a daunting task with only a pen, paper and a Bible, the reality of the situation was that the women and the students were prepared for their task. The founders were themselves seminary trained at the New Salem Academy. They had been long-term educators, were mature and experienced as administrators. Sophia Packard and Harriet Giles believed in their cause - to educate Negro girls and women.

The founders had worked, themselves, in women's organizations whose purposes were to help others. They had also been touched by the great needs of the Negroes in the South. The students were motivated to learn, to become scholars themselves, to teach and make a difference in their families and communities. Each came to the Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary with a certain level of determination and resolved to take advantage of this unique opportunity. Each came prepared to become leaders. The saying, "From those to whom much is given, much shall be required," provided the first expectation of these "prepared leaders."

"Sophia B. Packard and Harriet E. Giles with Spelman Seminary Students" (2018).  Spelman College Photographs Collection, Presidents. 6.

"Sophia B. Packard and Harriet E. Giles with Spelman Seminary Students" (2018). Spelman College Photographs Collection, Presidents. 6.

Spelman Seminary.  Spelman College Photographic Collection, 1901.

Spelman Seminary. Spelman College Photographic Collection, 1901.

College Seal Symbolizes Service

What inspires leadership - It may well be another ingredient that is necessary for leadership - the ethics of leadership. Educated scholars must know what inspires or motivates one to act on that inspiration. The Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary was renamed Spelman Seminary in April 1884. LEARN MORE >

A First Among Women's Organizations

The Alumnae Association itself was a trend-setter among women's organizations. The first national Negro sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority did not start until 1908, almost two decades following the Alumnae Association. Even the Women's Club of Atlanta started in 1896, a few years following the beginning of the Alumnae Association. LEARN MORE >

First Reunion

The Association's first alumnae club was comprised of graduates and was organized in Atlanta in August 1914 as The Spelman Graduates Atlanta Club. Following the custom of many colleges, President Lucy Tapley suggested class reunions so that graduates could meet on certain fixed anniversaries. LEARN MORE >

Clubs Created in the 20s

Most of the clubs organized in the twenties were located in Georgia and Florida. However, Chicago, Cleveland, Prairie View ( Texas) and Detroit also initiated clubs. A rallying slogan was crafted, "Wherever there are four or five graduates or ex-students, we will start a Spelman Club." The Packard-Giles Club in Atlanta was organized for ex-students on March 16, 1921. LEARN MORE >

The 30s: The Loyalty Fund

The thirties revealed club development in Alabama and Louisiana. In 1933, the Packard-Giles Club purchased a new flagpole for the College. The most significant development for the College as a result of the efforts of the Alumnae Association was the Loyalty Fund, which was the first reunion-giving program. LEARN MORE >

The 40s: The War

Though the world was consumed by war in the forties, the Alumnae Association continued to support its mission of supporting Spelman. It was certainly a challenge for a liberal arts institution for women to continue to function while the world was at war. LEARN MORE > 

The 50s: The West, Midwest and Northeast Club Growth

During the fifties, the Midwest and Northeast areas blossomed in club development in Ohio, Indiana and New York. In March 1955, the first alumnae club began in California. The Alumnae Association sponsored a variety of local community service projects. The Atlanta Spelman Club, which, by the fifties included graduates and ex-students, began a Spelman College Founders Day annual broadcast on WGST in 1953.

The 60s: The Naming of Howard-Harreld Dorm

The sixties brought a time of explosive growth that yielded several additional clubs to established "sister" clubs. Houston and Dallas joined Prairie View in Texas. Baton Rouge joined the New Orleans Chapter. Gary joined Indianapolis while Northern California (Bay Area-Sacramento) joined the Los Angeles Chapter. Baltimore and Philadelphia represented the states of Maryland and Pennsylvania in the expansions nationally. The alumnae clubs followed the growth of alumnae concentration throughout the United States. LEARN MORE >

The 70s: The Quiet Evolution

At the dawn of the seventies, there was a quiet evolution in the Alumnae Association that prompted revolutionary results. At the heels of the Civil Rights era, the Alumnae Association did some soul searching as to what its role relative to the College would be in the future. As an organization that had been born and nurtured by the College, was it now time to grow up as a self-governing entity? LEARN MORE >

New Demographics of the Alumnae Population

By 1970, the demographics of the alumnae population were changing. The first class that totaled more that 100 graduates was the class of 1960. The class of 1973 boasted the first class that was over 200 graduates. At this point in college history, the largest percentage of the total alumnae body was comprised of women who were less than forty years of age. The largest percentage of the alumnae body still lived in the metro Atlanta area. Yet the national Alumnae Association leadership was older. There was a need for a dramatic shift in the face of the association to reflect the new demographics of the alumnae population. LEARN MORE >

1976: A Nonprofit Organization

In 1976, as the College was considering a new college president following the retirement of Dr. Albert Manley, there was the expectation that the next president of Spelman College would be an African American woman. When Dr. Donald M. Stewart was appointed as the sixth president, the Association struggled to reconcile its time-honored promise to support the institution yet do what it knew was necessary. LEARN MORE >

NAASC Scholarships and Awards

The eighties were the years of visibility and image building for the newly incorporated association. Alumnae were awarded the first NAASC Hall of Fame Awards and Merit Awards. The College recognized several long-term active Alumnae Association members by naming lounges in the Donald and Isabel Stewart Living Learning Center. The NAASC established the Donald M. Stewart Endowed Scholarship, which provided annual scholarships to students. The National Emergency Student Loan Fund was established with contributions from the Baltimore, Columbia, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles Chapters. LEARN MORE >

Major Gifts: A New Step in Alumnae Giving

Selected leaders and members within the NAASC were among the alumnae targeted for leadership in the Spelman Campaign, Initiatives for the '90s. For the first time, alumnae were specifically asked to provide major gifts of $10,000. They were also asked to provide bequests to Spelman, or establish charitable gift annuities or trusts. These individual alumnae exhibited their faith and stepped up to the plate by establishing alumnae as a new major financial resource stream for Spelman College. LEARN MORE >

Patricia Graham Johnson, C'73
A partner of Howell & Johnson, a firm specializing in the inventory of private collections, is currently working on a book manuscript on the life of her father, the late Reverend John H. Graham. Formerly, Ms. Johnson served Spelman for fifteen years as an acting director of admissions, the director of Alumnae Affairs, and a planned giving officer for the College.