The Black Masque Society Records document the history of the San Jose State University’s Black Masque Honor Society, alumni,
and reunion activities from 1957 to 2013. The collection materials consist of the adminstrative records, correspondence,
negatives, memorabilia, and scrapbooks with photographs, newsclippings, and announcements.
The Black Masque Honor Society formed in 1930 as a secret senior women’s honorary student organization. In 1930 Gladys Aitken,
a senior at San Jose State Teachers College, attended a convention of Associated Women Students and was first introduced to
the Mortar Board, a national society honoring senior women for both scholarship and leadership. Influenced by the convention,
Aitken proposed San Jose State establish its own organization similar to Mortar Board and the Dean of Women, Helen Dimmick,
shared her enthusiasm and together outlined the provisional society called The Mystic 13. By 1931 member qualifications were
chosen and a constitution written which entailed members to wear black robes and black masks for initiation, leading to the
official name of the group—Black Masque. Each year thirteen women were invited for membership at the end of their junior year
on the basis of their leadership and service to the university and would become active members their senior year. The group
would convene for community outreach, fellowship, and annual reunions. The Black Masque Alumni Council was established in
1943 and continues to actively work with the campus society. In 1977 men were allowed admittance. Black Masque remains an
active, albeit an exclusively nomination only, honor society of San Jose State University.