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Hope Dunmore / Chicago Old Settler's Club Collection

Finding Aid: Hope Dunmore / Chicago Old Settler's Club Collection
Repository: The DuSable Museum of African American History

Hope Ives Dunmore (1890? - 1974), Chicago native and clubwoman, was a longtime member of Chicago's Old Settlers Social Club, founded by Ida McIntosh Dempsey in the early 1900s.

Distinguishing themselves from the growing number of Southern blacks migrating to Chicago in the early twentieth century, the Old Settlers Social Club limited membership to African-American men and women who could prove their families had lived in Chicago for at least thirty years. “The object of the club,” stated in its 1923 Constitution, “is to keep the Old Settlers in touch with each other in this rapidly growing Metropolis.” Linking geographic origins to status in the community, Chicago's Old Settlers created important social, cultural, and religious networks on the South Side during the first half of the twentieth century.

In May 1935, Hope Dunmore and her family published a small pamphlet titled “Dunmore Family's Magazine: Historical Sketches and Stories of Negroes in Chicago, Mostly True.” An example of the Old Settlers' interest in preserving black history, this self-published volume illustrated black life in Chicago, and profiled the city's class of African-Americans professionals.

The materials in the DuSable Museum's Hope Dunmore / Old Settlers Social Club Collection form a fascinating record of the everyday household concerns and voluntary commitments of a family that considered itself among Chicago's African-American pioneers. The collection also highlights the Dunmore family's involvement with black freemasonry and worship at St. Thomas Episcopal Church.

Selected Artifacts

Hope Dunmore's Diploma from the Shields School, 1902. Hope Ives Dunmore was the eighth of Anna Bumbry and Robert Dunmore's twelve children.  Born and raised on Campbell Avenue in Chicago's South Side, Hope and her siblings soon followed in their parents' footsteps, becoming active in a host of African-American social, cultural, fraternal, and religious organizations. The DuSable Museum contains a small collection of Dunmore family papers and ephemera, including five of the Dunmore children's elementary school diplomas. Photograph of Ida McIntosh Dempsey, ca. 1909. Ida McIntosh Dempsey (1857-1924) held the first meeting of Chicago's Old Settlers Social Club on May 11, 1902, although the permanent group was not organized until two years later.  The DuSable Museum's collection includes a small number of Hope Dunmore's records from the club's meetings and social programs. Old Settlers Social Club application form, 1905. The DuSable Museum's collection also includes a number of membership applications for the Old Settlers Club from 1905-1935.  Length of residence in Chicago qualified black Chicagoans for membership in the organization. Old Settlers Social Club application form, 1934. As increasing numbers of southern blacks migrated to Chicago in the early twentieth century, members of the Old Settlers Club took special pride in their families' long histories in the city. Dunmore Family Magazine, 'Table of Contents,' 1935 Dunmore Family Magazine, map of 'Negro Settlement,' 1935 Old Settlers Social Club event ticket, 1937. The DuSable Museum's collection documents a variety of club gatherings that Hope Dunmore may have organized and/or attended.  The Old Settlers Social Club picnics were frequently mentioned in the social columns of the Chicago Defender newspaper. Heroines of Jericho song sheet, undated.  Hope Dunmore was a longtime member and Grand Matron of Fidelity Court #22, Heroines of Jericho, Order of the Eastern Star.  Black freemasonry has been documented as early as the American Revolution; however, women's auxiliaries like the Order of the Eastern Star did not emerge until the late nineteenth century. Distinguished by costume and ritual, these fraternal groups provided another social outlet for many of Chicago's first African-American families.  The DuSable Museum's collection documents the events and ritual life of local and statewide freemasonry.  Membership overlap between the Old Settlers Social Club and Chicago's black Masonic groups may have been high - for example, Ida McIntosh Dempsey, founder of the Old Settlers Social Club, was also an early member of the Heroines of Jericho and penned the songs seen here. St. Thomas Church Bulletin, 1915.  Black churches opened up further opportunities for socializing, community development, and black leadership on the South Side.  While African Methodist, Baptist, or smaller 'storefront' churches dominate the history of religious life of African-Americans in Chicago, the Dunmore family worshipped at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, seen here in one of the many church publications from the 1910s, 20s, and 30s that are preserved in the DuSable Museum's collections. As Chicago's first black Protestant Episcopal congregation, St. Thomas attracted many of the 'old settlers' to its pews when it opened in the late 1870s.

Images and credits.