The Monarchs club, formed in 1920 by J. L. Wilkinson, was a charter member of the Negro National League in that year, a league affiliation that the club maintained throughout the decade. During the 1920s the Monarchs won four NNL pennants and in 1924 defeated the Hilldale Club in the first Negro World Series.
With the onset of the Great Depression and the collapse of the original Negro National League the team was transformed by Wilkinson into an independent, exhibition club as a measure to increase revenue and keep the team in operation. While many other clubs folded during the Depression, the Monarchs enjoyed a reasonable measure of financial success during those dark days for the nation.
In 1937 the Monarchs returned to league competition, joining the Negro American League as a charter member. The team would maintain this league affiliation through the end of the Negro Leagues‘ golden age in 1949, the integration of professional baseball, and beyond into the 1950s. Between 1937 and 1946 the Monarchs captured seven NAL pennants and in 1942 defeated the Homestead Grays for the Negro World Series championship.