Former Miss West Set & Philadanco Founder Discusses Her Life in Dixon Gottschild’s New Book [1/14/2012]

13 01 2012

Brenda Dixon Gottschild, a supporter of the work of the Archivists Society, has written a new book that discusses the life and achievement’s of America’s Black Ballerina Joan Myers Brown. The book is entitled “Joan Myers Brown & the Audacious Hope of the Black Ballerina: A Biohistory of American Performance”. Brown is the founder of Philadanco and a former Miss West Set–a designation awarded to women of notoriety by the Gentlemen of the West Set. The West Set was one of Philadelphia’s first black gay organizations.

This Saturday, January 14, 2012, The Brother’s Network, will host a discussion featuring author Brenda Dixon Gottschild and Joan Myers Brown.

WHERE: Moonstone Arts Center, 110A South 13th Street, 2nd floor, Philadelphia WHEN: Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012, at 1 p.m. Contact The Brother’s Network for more information at .

The book description (from “Founder of the Philadelphia Dance Company (PHILADANCO) and the Philadelphia School of Dance Arts, Joan Myers Brown’s personal and professional histories reflect both the hardships and the accomplishments of African Americans in the artistic and social developments through the twentieth century and into the new millennium. Dixon Gottschild deftly uses Brown’s career as the fulcrum to leverage an exploration of the connection between performance, society, and race—beginning with Brown’s predecessors in the 1920s—and a concert dance tradition that has had no previous voice to tell its story from the inside out. Augmented by interviews with a score of dance professionals, including Billy Wilson, Gene Hill Sagan, Rennie Harris, Milton Myers, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, and Ronald K. Brown, Joan Myers Brown’s background and richly contoured biography are object lessons in survival—a true American narrative.”

Obituary of Harry W. Boston (1934-2010), One of the Last West Setters

6 10 2010

Harry W. Boston

Harry W. Boston (photo from

Harry W. Boston was an original member of The West Set. The West Set was founded in 1957, and provided opportunities for brotherhood, socializing, travel and volunteerism.  He was an ally and friend to many of Philadelphia’s diverse communities.

Click here to learn more about The West Set.

Harry W. Boston, teacher, ‘super role model’ dies at 85

HARRY W. BOSTON, a teacher in Philadelphia public schools for more than 30 years, an Air Force veteran of World War II and a devoted churchman whose lusty voice was raised in praise at Miller Memorial Baptist Church for more than 70 years, died Thursday.

He would have been 86 tomorrow. He lived in Mount Airy.

Harry taught at Kenderton Elementary, Lingelbach Elementary, the Eleanor C. Emlen School and Benjamin Franklin High School.

Even after he retired in 1984, he continued as an educator, teaching for four more years at the Sanctuary Christian Academy, founded by Bishop Audrey Bronson.

Harry was born in Philadelphia one of the five children of Arie and Bertha Boston. He graduated from Central High School and enlisted in the Air Force in 1943.

He served in the 477th Bomber Wing, 616th Bomber Squadron, the famed Tuskegee Airmen, at Tuskegee, Ala.

He was a company clerk and served under the legendary Brig. Gen. Benjamin O. Davis Jr., the first black general in the Air Force and commander of the Tuskegee Airmen.

After his discharge, Harry attended Howard University and later transferred to La Salle, graduating in 1951.

He was baptized in 1934 at Miller Memorial Baptist Church. He sang on the Fellowship Choir directed by Sister Irma B. Brown Coleman, and had many solo performances.

He took special pleasure in singing “When Jesus Comes” at Good Friday services:

The time is nearing when we’ll be hearing

That trumpet blow when Jesus comes.

In January 1995, the Rev. Wilkins O. Jones Sr. organized the Chancel Choir, of which Harry was a member until his health failed.

He also was a member of the church trustee board and held the office of financial secretary for many years. He was a member of the scholarship committee, and was instrumental in organizing the church’s first summer camp.

Harry loved taking cruises to the Caribbean, where he visited just about every island open to tourists. He also enjoyed local theater, jazz and gospel concerts.

“He was a friend, mentor, counselor, super role model and supporter of young people,” his family said.

Although he never married, Harry was devoted to his many nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews.

Services: 11 a.m. Friday at Miller Memorial Baptist Church 1518 N. 22nd St. Friends may call at 9 a.m. Burial will be in Mount Lawn Cemetery, Sharon Hill.

Click here for the original article published on (10/6/10).

RIP Harry Boston, Original West Set Member

6 10 2010

H. Boston, one of the original West Set members, has died. He was born in 1934, and lived a full life. He was a friend and ally to the community and the community’s history.

Gerald Lewis, now the last living original member of the West, provided these details. The Archivists Society is excited to conduct a full interview with Lewis next week. It will be posted soon.