The Early Years
Margaret Roselle Hawkins
Sarah Strickland Scott
The Links, Incorporated, an international nonprofit corporation, was established in 1946 in Philadelphia, PA by Margaret Roselle Hawkins and Sarah Strickland Scott to respond to the needs of African Americans in the aftermath of World War II. Membership of The Links, Incorporated has grown to over 14,000 professional women of color in 280 chapters located in 41 states, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.
Eighteen years after the first chapter was organized, and the need to serve disadvantaged African Americans continued, the Links rallied to support those rendered helpless by the lack of civil rights and racial injustices of the 1960’s. In the fall of 1961, Gertrude Taylor assembled a group of women in her home and organized Club Delchebu. The Club’s purpose was to recognize and give community service in the five counties of the Pennsylvania Delaware Valley. Sponsored by the Philadelphia Chapter, The Links, Incorporated recognized and installed Club Delchbu as the Delaware Valley Chapter on November 21, 1964.
The eleven charter members were friends living in the counties of the community they served. Eight of the 11 members were residents of Yeadon and Lansdowne, PA and lived within walking distance of each other.
As a service organization, our members continue to help transform and improve the lives of those we serve. This includes packaging 5,000 meals annually for the Stop World Hunger Project; conducting Emergency Preparedness programs for children at the historic Wissahickon Boys and Girls Club; presenting Healthy Living Workshops to elementary students and their parents; donating and maintaining a professional wardrobe at Cheyney University for the students’ career interviews and employment; and supplementing the arts education program for students of the Chester Charter School for the Arts.
Delaware Valley (PA) Links members serve on the National and Eastern Area boards and committees. Our service includes:
The Delaware Valley (PA) Chapter, The Links, Incorporated continues to serve our communities in the manner and commitment of our founders, ever mindful of the circumstances which created the needs in 1964 and the on-going needs of today.
Charter Members of the Delaware Valley (PA) Chapter
Jesseye W. Coverdale (December 22, 1912 - January 18, 1998)
Corresponding Secretary, of Yeadon, PA. She served on the Services to Youth Facet and Co-chaired the Arts for Youth Program at the Yeadon Library on April 13, 1968; the proceeds were used to fund art lessons for youth. Link Coverdale worked as a counselor at Walton Elementary School in Philadelphia.
Helen O. Dickens, M.D. (February 21, 1909 - December 2, 2001)
Helen O. Dickens, M.D. of Yeadon, PA was a prominent physician practicing in Philadelphia, PA., a professor of obstetrics and gynecology, and an associate dean of medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Dickens’ career was distinguished with several firsts including being the first Black woman ever named a fellow of the American College of surgeons. The Helen O. Dickens Center for Women at HUP was named in her honor in 1999. Dr. Dickens and her husband, Dr. Purvis Henderson. had a daughter, Jayne Brown who is a member of the Montgomery County Links.
Julia P. Hawkins (September 16, 1918 - August 3, 1996)
Julia P. Hawkins was a resident of Yeadon, PA. She was a teacher at Vare, Middle School in Philadelphia. Her husband, Dr. Thomas Varick Hawkins, died in 1983. They had no children.
Clara W. Henderson (January 31, 1913 - January 17, 2005)
Clara W. Henderson lived in Yeadon, PA. She and her husband, Dr. William Henry Henderson, worked tirelessly to raise community funds for Chester residents misplaced by a local fire. They had two daughters, Irma Constance and the late Melba Lucille.
Mercedes H. Hutchins (1918 - 1978)
Mercedes H. Hutchins was a resident of Thornton, PA. Her husband, Dr. Francis Lafenus Hutchins, Sr. was in private practice in Chester, PA. She was the mother-in-law of two Delaware Valley Links members, Diana Hutchins and the late Sandra Hutchins. A graduate of Gratz High School, Philadelphia, she attended Wilberforce University, Ohio and was employed by the Chester School District and Cheyney University. Her children and grandchildren continue to live in the Philadelphia, Chester, and Thornton areas.
Helen M. Johnson (February 3, 1905 - September 3, 2000)
Helen M. Johnson, First Vice President, lived in Lansdowne, PA. She hailed from Virginia and taught elementary and high school there. She and her husband, Dr. William Henderson Johnson had one daughter, Barbara Ann Johnson who lives in Tennessee and continues to visit Philadelphia often.
Signa G. Martin (December 28, 1913 - October, 1988)
Signa G. Martin, Secretary, in Yeadon, PA. She and her husband raised two sons, Henry A. Martin and Charles Martin. They were very active community leaders.
Dorothy L. Speller (d 1982)
Dorothy L. Speller was a physician in Philadelphia, PA and a clinician and consultant with the Pennsylvania Dept. of Health. She was married to Dr. John Finton Speller, former Secretary of Medicine, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. They had three children, Sandra, Jeffrey, and Marsha.
Berenice A. Spellman (1909 - 2004)
Berenice A. Spellman, Treasurer, lived in Yeadon, PA. She received her MSW from the University of PA in 1961. She and her husband, Lester Guy Spellman, Sr. had a daughter and son. Their daughter, Berenice Spellman Puriefoy, was a member of the Delaware Valley PA Chapter from 1969 until her death in 1992. The Spellman’s son, Guy, continues to live in Yeadon.
Barbara L. Stokes (October 7, 1917 - November 6, 2006)
Barbara L. Stokes lived in Coatesville, PA with her husband Dr. Louis Campbell Stokes. After graduating from Dillard University, New Orleans, LA she continued her studies and obtained a RN degree and later graduated as a registered public health nurse. Bobbi had many firsts in Linkdom—First National Archivist; Chair, Investment and Finance Committee; Chair, The Links Foundation; Chair, Links Legacy Council; Member National Executive Council. She was the godmother of Delaware Valley Alumna member Barbara Closson Stallworth.
Gertrude M. Taylor (September 24, 1915 - July 16, 2005)
Gertrude M. Taylor, first President, lived in Yeadon, PA. She was married to Dr. Daniel B. Taylor, a urologist who practiced in South Philadelphia. They had a daughter, Danille and a son Daniel. She was the godmother of Delaware Valley member, Link JoAnn Jones.