(1832) Constitution of the Afric-American Female Intelligence Society of Boston

Pocket map Plan of the City of Boston, 1832
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Whereas the subscribers, women of color of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, actuated by a natural feeling for the welfare of our friends, have thought fit to associate for the diffusion of knowledge, the suppression of vice and immorality, and for cherishing such virtues as will render us happy and useful to society, sensible of the gross ignorance under which we have too long labored, but trusting by the blessing of God, we shall be able to accomplish the object of our union—we have therefore associated ourselves under the name of the Afric-American Female Intelligence Society and have adopted the following Constitution.

Art. 1st. The officers of this Society shall be a President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary, and a Board of Directors of five—all of whom shall be annually elected.

Art 2nd. Regular meetings of the Society shall be held on the first Thursday of every month, at which each member shall pay twenty-five cents, and pay twelve and a half cents at every monthly meeting thenceforth.

Art. 3d. The money thus collected shall be appropriate for the purchasing of books, the hiring of a room and other contingencies.

Art. 4th. The books and other articles purchased by this Society, shall be considered as the Society’s property; and should the Society cease to exist, said property shall be disposed of by auction, and each member receive her proportional part of the proceeds accruing from such sale.

Art. 5th. It shall be the duty of the President to preserve order at the meetings of said society, and to call special meetings when occasion may require.

Art. 6th. In the absence of the President, the Vice President shall preside; and in the absence of both, the Secretary shall preside.

Art. 7th. It shall be the duty of the Treasurer to pay all orders drawn on her by the Secretary, and signed by the President.  The Treasurer shall give bonds to the Society for the faithful discharge of the duties of her office.

Art. 8th. The Secretary shall keep an account of the receipts and expenditures of the Society.

Art. 9th. All applications shall be to the Society at the monthly meetings or to the Board of Directors, who shall report it at the next meeting.

Art. 10th. It shall be the duty of the Secretary to call a roll of the members to each meeting, and to keep a book in which the names of the members shall be recorded.

Art. 11th. All candidates for membership shall be of good moral character, and shall be elected by a majority of the votes of the Society.

Art. 12th. All members who shall be absent at the regular monthly meetings shall be fined six and a quarter cents, unless a satisfactory apology can be offered to the Society.

Art. 13th. The officers of the Society shall be elected annually by a vote of a majority of the Society.

Art. 14th. All vacancies occurring may be supplied by nomination from the chair.

Art. 15th. Any member of this Society of one year’s standing having regularly paid up her dues who may be taken sick shall receive one dollar per week out of the funds of the Society as long as consistent with the means of the institution.

Art. 16th. No article of the constitution of this Society shall be altered or amended, unless by a vote of a majority of the Society.

Art. 17th. Any member becoming obnoxious may be removed from the Society by a vote of a majority.

Art. 18th. In case any unforeseen and afflictive event should happen to any of the members, it shall be the duty of the Society to aid them as far as in their power.

Art. 19th. If any member shall neglect to pay her regular monthly assessment, such person shall be subject to a fine of twelve and a half cents per month until paid; and if not paid at the end of a year, she shall be removed therefrom by a vote of the Society, and forfeit all claim thereto.

Art. 20th. Should circumstances cause any member to withdraw from the Society, she may transfer her certificate of membership to any person approved of by the government of this institution.

Art. 21st. It shall be the duty of the Treasurer to keep a correct account of all the money she receives, and deposit it in the bank as the Board directs.


Art. 1. Each member who wishes to speak shall rise and address the chair.

Art. 2nd. While any member addresses the chair, [               ].

Art. 3rd. If any member becomes sick, it shall be made known to the 1 resident, who will instruct the Directors to visit the sick person, and devise means for her relief.

Art. 4th. Twelve members shall constitute a quorum to transact business.

Art. 5th. Any person or persons who shall rashly sacrifice their own health, shall not be entitled to any aid or sympathy from the Society.

Art. 6th. Each meeting of this Society shall begin and end with prayer.

Art. 7th. The Treasurer shall make quarterly reports of the state of the funds.

Art. 8th. The Secretary shall read the proceedings of the last meeting at each succeeding one.