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Geneva Valentine papers

Identifier: MS2340

Scope and Contents

This collection contains the correspondence, personal writings, resumes, address books, notes, meeting minutes, speeches, legal documents, tax files, financial records, reports, programs, memoranda, brochures, awards, certificates, magazines, newspaper clippings, photographs, yearbooks, scrapbooks, and travel memorabilia of Geneva K. Valentine and the organizations of which she was a part. The collection also contains records of some of Mrs. Valentine’s family members, primarily her husband Hugh Valentine, Sr. and son Hugh Valentine, Jr. The bulk of the material dates from 1923-1987.The material in this collection covers Mrs. Valentine’s history as a businesswoman, her contributions to the Washington, DC community in the areas of equal housing, alleviation of poverty, and crime prevention, and her advocacy at a national level for Civil Rights and desegregation.


  • circa 1920s to circa 2008
  • Majority of material found within 1922 - 1987


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Donor represents and warrants that the Donor owns and wishes to retain the Donor’s copyright rights in and to the Collection for a period of five (5) years starting March 17, 2015. On March 20, 2020, the Donor hereby assigns to the Library the entire right, title and interest in and to all copyright rights in the Collection.

Biographical / Historical

Geneva Kent Valentine (1901-1971), a prominent businesswoman and community leader in Washington, DC, was the first African-American to gain membership in the National Association of Real Estate Boards, among many other achievements. Mrs. Valentine was born in Northumberland County, Virginia on August 15, 1901. She graduated from Washington DC's Dunbar High School in 1922, and graduated from Hartshorn Memorial College's Normal School in Richmond, Virginia before attending law school at American Uniersity. Mrs. Valentine worked as a secretary before going into business. She was president of Equitable Realty Co. (which she helped found in 1931) and managed several other companies in addition to her real estate career, including the first Western Union branch on the east coast to be owned by an African-American.

Mrs. Valentine was well-known as a civic leader in professional clubs and local organizations who demonstrated significant involvement in causes related to education, housing, and urban poverty. She served as National President of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women's Clubs and was a member of the Century Club. She contributed to community initiatives as President of the Adams-Morgan Federation and an organizer of Positive Action Against Crime, as well as through the events and services she helped provide at Inspiration House (a black cultural center), the Guy T.O. Hollyday House (a community revitalization and redevelopment organization), and her work on education and library resources through the M.C. Terrell Fund. She also worked with the Mayor's Economic Development Committee on initiatives to foster police-community relations.

Mrs. Valentine was highly involved in Civil Rights movements through the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and her efforts as Legislative Chairman of the national Association of Negro Business and Professional Women's Clubs. Her opinions have been solicited regarding Civil Rights legislation, and the organizations with which she was involved prepared reports and commentaries on these issues. Mrs. Valentine was a registered Republican and served as Chairman of the Assembly of Women's Organizations for National Security. She has corresponded with Civil Rights activist A. Philip Randolph, DC's Mayor Walter E. Washington, U.S. Senators including Edward Kennedy and Gaylord Nelson, Secretary of State Dean Rusk, President Richard Nixon, and other ambassadors, dignitaries, and high-ranking officials. She met with former First Lady Mamie Eisenhower, and entertained prominent individuals such as Lady Astor, whom she met at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

Geneva Valentine died in Washington, DC on April 10, 1971.


16 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



This collection contains correspondence, personal writing, publications, legal and financial documents, memoranda, meeting minutes, memorabilia, photographs, scrapbooks, negatives, yearbooks, and company records documenting the activities of businesswoman, realtor, and Washington DC community leader Geneva K. Valentine. These materials date from 1922 to 2008 since they include records of family members and family-run corporations in addition to the records of Mrs. Valentine. The bulk of the collection dates between 1922 and 1987.


Organized into 6 series: Biographical information and personal materials; Photographs, yearbooks, and scrapbooks; Clubs and associations; Business and financial records; Community, political, and legislative engagement; and Family members of Geneva Valentine.

Physical Location

Materials are stored off-site, and will require additional retrieval time. Please contact the Special Collections Research Center for more information.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Hugh Valentine, 2015 April 7 (2015.023)

Guide to the Geneva Valentine papers, 1922-2008
Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University Repository

2130 H Street NW
Washington 20052 United States of America