Southside Community Center Photo Collection

Cover Image:
Southside Community Center Photo Collection
Southside Community Center Facade - Image Source

Collection Facts

Dates of Original:
1936- ca.1950

Historical Context

In the mid-1920s the Frances Harper Women’s Club of Ithaca, an African American social and philanthropic organization, began fundraising to create a community center for the local African American community, especially its youth. Later the group changed their name to the Serv-Us League, but their mission remained the same, and their ambitious plans began with a small “hope chest” of $229. They enlisted the help of prominent local businessmen, and an advisory board was formed to create a community center. In 1936 the current Southside Community Center building was begun with tremendous support from the City of Ithaca and the federal government through the Works Progress Administration. It opened to much fanfare in 1938.

Scope of Collection

This collection contains a series of photographs, many of which were taken from 1936-ca. 1945 by Works Progress Administration (WPA) photographers of the groundbreaking for the Southside Community Center. It includes photographs of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, opera star Marion Anderson, and many local dignitaries. It also contains images of Southside Community Center members in the years after it opened taking part in the many programs available to users.