Literary Clubs in the US
Exercises 2021-2022
Essays Club Year 2021-2022
Recorded Zoom Meetings
Mr. Secretary
Essays Club Year 2020-2021
Essays Club Year 2019-2020
Essays Club Year 2018-2019
Essays Club Year 2017-2018
Essays Club Year 2016-2017
Essays Club Year 2015-2016
Essays Club Year 2014-2015
Essays Club Year 2013-2014
Essays Club Year 2012-2013
Essay Club Year 2011-2012
Essays Club Year 2010-2011
Essay Club Year 2009-2010
Essay Club Year 2008-2009
Essay Club Year 2007-2008
Indiana Historical Records
In Memoriam
Club Year
Literary Clubs in the US

Name of Club





Founded- Yrs Extant






Calliopean Literary Society

Calliope=Gr Muse of epic poetry;

Founded: by William Irving? father of Washington Irving





Ballot box with white balls and black

Tues, wkly all year, 6 PM

Compositions; recitations; orations; disputing science or literary. No controversial subjects in theology or politics; Archives: New York Historical Society Library and Columbia University.

Century Association

(Century Club) evolved from "Sketch Club" founded 1829 by William Cullen Bryant et al.


McKim Mead & White Beaux Arts Bld. 7 W. 43rd St

Since 1891

Await response re original papers presented

Phone: 212 944 0090


In 1857 incorporated by act of NY legislature.

~50 founding members in 1847. By invitation 2,400 (2006); Men only till 1988 Supreme Ct. ruling June 21, 1988 barring discrimination in orgs >400. Women now members.


Original: arts and letters society. Today: venue for exhibition of art of members; other










The Literary C lub (Cincinnati )


500 E Fourth St., Cincinnati, OH, 45202

2 story (Greek Revival house from 1820)

President: Robert Dorsey ; website member accessible; phone:

513 621 6589

1849-present, except for

16 mo (1862-64) furlough during Civil War, many members in War

Men; limit: 100; Three member categories: Regular: 100

Honorary :10

Associate: live at distance & want to maintain ties to club.

Mon, 8PM Mid Sept-Mid June, ~ 35 meetings/yr

Readings of essays; poems: 30-45min; Also, once/mo "budget" papers: 3 @15-20 min per; papers archived Cincinnati Historical Society.

The Literary Club of Cincinnati 1849-1999, 150th Anniversary Vol, (Lit Club of Cin, 2001) - an excellent history.

Saturday Club


Meets at Somerset Club, 42-43 Beacon St., Boston; strongly aligned with Harvard as was Examiner Club. Ralph Waldo Emerson et al

Pres. Joan Goody


25 or so members at typical meeting. Drawn from academic, legal, medical, clerical, artistic and business.

Originally, every 4th Sat.

Disc of topics over lunch. No essays. Only written record: bio at member’s death bound and archived. Saturday Club founded Atlantic Monthly (1857) as literary and cultural commentary magazine James Russell Lowell, first editor.


Aim: to bring young women together for reading and literary work; the first "reading group" in Indiana.



Founder: Constance Fauntleroy; she left NH and formed "The Bronte" in Madison, IN (1864-1874). Constance helped found the Woman’s Club of San Francisco


Young Women


Reading and other literary activities

Examiner Club


Meets at Union Club, 8 Park St. across from Boston Commons; Founded by RW Emerson and contributors to the Unitarian organ, The Christian Examiner (Fuess et al McMillian, 1947)

Pres. Judge Douglas Wooklock


40 members; Men initially; now coed

3rd Wed each mo. Oct to May

No essays; oral presentation & discussion; written summary and minutes




















Sorosis Club

Founded by Jennie June Croly & Julia Ward Howe; Oldest incorporated women’s club in New York; First Professional Women’s Club in U.S. Croly, a reporter, was "churlishly snubbed" by men’s’ Press Club at time Charles Dickens visited NYC. Sorosis Club formed and met with Dickens.








Sorosis Club NYC & Boston’s New England Woman’s Club (both founded 1868) inspired formation of women’s clubs across America.

Per Ashley Carver, General Federation of Women’s clubs, Washington D.C., (Jan 10, 2009) Sorosis has "de-federated" their membership in GFWC but GFWC international president visited their club last year to celebrate their anniversary, "so I’m sure they still exist."

First President: Alice Cary (the poet of American women) Vice President: Jennie C. Croly


Women; 83 members; professional and literary women.

Originally: fortnightly, first & third Mondays; met at houses of members and other venues

Educational, social activities; art literature; science

"Sorosis" a botanical term –plants with a grouping of flowers that bore fruit. Activities to "promote agreeable and useful relations among women." Involved in political reform; suffrage, prison reform, temperance and peace and abolitionism.

Archives: Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College:

The Fortnightly of Chicago. "The Fortnightly" or "the Society" not "the Club"

The Fortnightly of Chicago and Chicago LC are loosely related; spouses of Fortnightly join the CLC; At least one woman is member of both orgs. Occasional joint programs; No formal relationship with other "Fortnightly" clubs in the U.S.


Society owns the Bryan Lathrop House, a national landmark built in 1892.

120 E. Bellevue Place, Chicago, IL 60611

Jean Perkins, President

Allison Johnson, Manager,, 312 944 1330



Women, though not stated as such in by-laws; surviving spouses may be elected as associate members; Limit 400 members; Proposed by 2 members, approved by board of directors.

16 luncheon meetings fortnightly, Sept-June. Also 20-25 afternoon & eve meetings, special activities & annual social events; closed July & Aug.

Papers and program presentations by members and outside speakers on topics: literature, science, architecture, medicine, music, history, current events, etc. Members present 8 programs/year & outside speakers the rest. Guests have included: Mark Twain; Henry James; Robert Frost; Isaac Stern; Laredo Taft and William Butler Yeats, Frank McCourt, Gwendolyn Brooks, Mayor RM Daley, Richard Peck and Leo Melamed.

Some papers deposited at Newberry Library, Chicago

Chit Chat Club


Restaurant L’Olivier

Marc Cruciger, M.D.: co-secretary ; 3838 California Street, San Fran. 94118


25 Men limit

2nd Mon PM each mo. (ex July/Aug)

Readings; papers archived at Stanford Univ. Library









Chicago Literary Club


The Cliff Dwellers, 200 S. Michigan Ave.

Ed Quattrocchi, CLC,

PO Box 350, Kenilworth, IL 60043-0350

Pres. Ed Quattrocchi;; Frank Lackner, Webmaster:


Men; since 1995

Limit: 250; current 140 members and 25 non-residents

Mon., dinner 6PM; meeting 7:45 PM; Early Oct-mid May

Readings of papers; papers archived & published online. Selected papers published in small booklet.

The Woman’s Club of Greencastle, Indiana

Aim: Intellectual, moral, social development of women.





Initially limit to 25


Focus on literature, science, history, art and music in various countries. Club sent delegate to first convention (The General Federation of Women’s Clubs") of clubs in New York, 1889-the oldest of the 10 Indiana clubs there. IN second only to Mass. (17) delegates.

Indianapolis Woman’s Club (second oldest in IN)

An organized center for the mental and social culture, and improvement of domestic life.





Women; Originally limited to 75; Limit 100 members; 3 membership levels: Active; Privileged; Corresponding

First & third Fridays, Oct-May

Literary, social, aesthetic programs. Readings of papers (no discussions of religious or political topics permitted) Celebrated 130th anniversary in 2005; Papers deposited in IN Historical Society archives.

Chicago Woman’s Club

No Longer exists: voted itself out of existence May 1999. Club recognized by Smithsonian as historically significant with early members: Jane Addams, Julia Ward Howe, Lady Aberdeen and Bertha Palmer.


Club donated its considerable resources to Roosevelt University, Shakespeare Theater, University of Illinois and others.

The Club created a Chicago City Woman’s Club Fund, a Trust that will support activities in the future.

Louise Pavecka, Club VP was interviewed for Chi Tribune article in 1999.


Chartered: 1885


Prospective members endorsed by 5 members who cannot propose another candidate that year.

By 1898: 700 members

Club had 2,000 members at its peak (Chi Tribune: Woman’s Club gift keeps legacy alive by Margaret O’Brien, Nov 2, p. 2C, pp. 6, 1999).

Initially first & third Wednesdays of the mo.

For first 7 years primarily a literary club: essays; discussions on selected subjects. Departments developed to address "practical" work of interest to women: advocacy for women physicians; care of women patients; kindergarten, education, etc. Largely responsible for creating first juvenile court in U.S. Various Associations organized under the CWC auspices. Worked with other women’s clubs: The Hull House Woman’s Club; African American Women’s clubs.

Indianapolis Literary Club

Club founding inspired in part by Dr. Poole of The Literary Club (of Cincinnati)


Park Tudor School, Commons, Indianapolis

Pres. Tho A Hendrickson


DG Vanderstel;


Men; limit 150

Average attendance at meetings= ~50

1st & 3rd Mon 8pm, except June-Sept, & Dec.

Readings of essays; Archived: IN Historical Society; some published in scholarly journals

Social activities: tea/coffee/water before & after presentation of essays; Oct & May Ladies Night; Jan Holiday Collation/Dinner; May Annual Dinner Meeting











Madison Literary Club; Founded by men and women--…"to carry its members away from the fretting cares of the day’s work and to place them for a time in the society of the great masters of the world.." Birg EA, Madison Literary Club 25th Anniversary, 1877-1902, Madison: Parsons Printing Co. 1904



Meet at Attic Angel Community on Attic Angel Circle, Middleton, WI.

President: Joseph (Jay) Raney: Annual book and mailing: Fran Wiley:


Men and women; Limit 60 members

2nd Mon of months during academic year.

Readings: papers and essays; Usually 45 min with 10-15 min discussion. Papers deposited in Archives Wisconsin Historical Society, some are published in scholarly journals, or informal magazines of Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters.

Ladies Literary Club of Salt Lake City


850 E. South Temple, 84102: "The House that Women Build." Since 1913 & on Natal & State Historical Registries

801-364-3451; 801-359-3522


Women; current about 55-60 members. Open to all women interested in literary pursuits and development of mental culture.

2 general meetings/mo.

Social; community service; Literature one of on-going sections of Club. ?? essays read

Causeries du Lundi (Monday Chatterings)

One of the oldest literary societies in America. "NYT 6/12/05: "extremely private & exclusive group.."


Meet in women’s homes

2005 Pres (or convener) Elbrun Kimmelman;

Club founded in 1880 by Elizabeth Hamilton Cullum, the 49 year old granddaughter of Alexander Hamilton and wife of Civil War general George Cullum.



23 active members (2005);

Membership by invitation only. No blackballing.

1st Mon q mo. Nov-May

Read papers on history, art, travel.

Warren (PA.) Shakespeare Club

Mrs. Elizabeth Brown, wife of the Hon. Rasselas Brown, is considered the "mother" of the Warren Shakespeare Club.


Warren Women’s Club

Judge William F. Morgan at

Mary Grishaver, Club Historian



Original membership limited to 40 (20 women & 20 men) Today (2009): 45 members.

Every Tues eve: first Tues after election day to middle of March. Exception: Christmas break. All meetings are dinner meetings, and black tie

Readings from parts from Shakespeare plays: 3 plays each year (a comedy; a tragedy; a history). Alternate Night: new members (not yet regular members) present amusing skits. Midwinter’s Night: Regular members present usually amusing skits. Christmas party with children & grandchildren: songs, readings, short plays. Also have lectures by members.









Fortnightly Literary Club, of Indianapolis





Limited to 35, but no limit to membership in club constitution. Recently dropped white and black ball ballot method; Dues waived for 50 yr members`

3rd Tues of month Oct-May (no longer fortnightly!)

Writing and presentation of papers; (20-40 min) and avoiding political and religious subjects and vacation travelogues; Focus on serious issues in literature, art, science, political government, and social and domestic economics. Archives IN Historical Society

The Shakespeare Club, Dallas.

Oldest literary club active in Dallas, one of the earliest in TX and the U.S.


No building; meet in member’s homes or other venues: historical society; Dallas Public Library.

Member: Lynn Vogt:


40 ladies at first meeting Jan 28, 1886; now 55 members; typical attendance 40-45.

Every other Fri afternoon, Sept. to May

Member production of plays; selected members give papers; occas. university prof. present; Endowed fund with annual grants ($15,000-20,000) to education, history, and theater groups. Civic and charitable projects. Since 1949 materials donated to Dallas Historical Society

Indianapolis Propylaeum;

Indianapolis Woman’s Club formed committee of 7 (Sewall Chair) to establish a central club home, "in a city famous for the number & quality of its women’s clubs."


Originally on North between Meridian and Pennsylvania

Since 1924: 1410 N. Delaware St.

Pres. Patricia Lyster (2008-09)

Propylaeum Historic Foundation: Linda Carlen: 317 638 7881


Founded by Mary Wright Sewall

Women of all ages, cultures, and social groups

Monthly; some activities more frequent

Social and cultural center for Indianapolis women. Lectures, educational seminars; music and dramatic presentations; social activities. Members of Propylaeum participate in outreach education, health programs sponsored by Propylaeum.

Indiana Union of Literary Clubs

Suggested by members of Indianapolis Woman’s Club, inspired by the convention of Sorosis, 1889.


Richmond, Indiana

First President: Mrs. Mary McGregory of Indianapolis; Mrs. Elizabeth Nicholson of Indianapolis was second President.


Primarily women but men included.


First meeting June 5 & 6 in Richmond: literary clubs of IN sent 50-60 delegates and ~300 members. 1893 annual meeting: 10 or 74 literary clubs had male delegates. Existence of Indianapolis Literary Club (1877) may have inspired male involvement in the IN Union. ILC Secretary, Mr. Theodore L. Sewall was husband of May Wright Sewall, a leader in women’s clubs.

Over the Teacups;

Prior to its formation it existed as a history class



President (ca. 1898) was Mrs. Katherine S. Jones


Initial 25, but expanded

Alternate Fridays

Historic study & literary culture & conversations, seriously directed. Limited social activities; No formal readings of papers











Fortnightly Literary Club;

Founded "for the purpose of intellectual and social culture..: (from 1895 Constitution)


According to Allen County Public Library December 14, 2008, the Club celebrated its 100th anniversary in April 1992. January 7, 2009 club sill active

Contacts: Shirley Jordan past president provided update Jan 7, 2009


Men and Women

20-25 members

8:30 PM fortnightly Oct to April (in 1921-22). Today 3rd Mon, Sept-Nov & Feb-April.

Readings of papers not to exceed 45 min followed by discussion. Guests may attend.

Hamilton Fortnightly Club (New York)


Public Conference Rooms in Hamilton, New York



Women, not by official policy but by convention. There has never been a male member. Membership by recommendation and majority vote. "Blackballing" taken out of bylaws in 2000.


Readings of papers by members and discussion

The Caxton Club of Chicago. Founders desired to support publication of fine books. Founders were collectors, publishers, designers and librarians. William Caxton was first English printer.


Meet in First National Bank Bld., now Chase Tower

President: C. Steven Tomashefsky. The Caxton Club c/o The Newberry Library, 60 West Walton St., Chi., Ill, 60610

Phone: 312 255 3710


Originally men; women elected in 1976; Membership exceeds 300 with 20% women. Current members include: accountants, authors, bankers, scholars, editors, doctors, librarians, and clergy.

Mo. Wed. dinner meet. 3rd Wed Sept-June with guest speakers; 2nd Friday mo. noon luncheons- Club members speakers: Sept-June.

Since founding Caxton Club has published 61 formal publications and 58 other printed pieces.

Houston Heights Literary Club changed to Houston Women’s Club (1912)


1846 Harvard St.

Anne Sloan 713 869-8281


Women; 130


Literature; music; civic; art. Separate groups; various activities; ?? essays read

Franklin Inn Club


The Franklin Inn Club, 205 South Camac St;



Men until 1970’s when women invited; Limit: 120 because of building limitation

Daily, wkly, monthly

Wide array: lunch with argument; round table disc; eve speaker (Club member) at Club dinner. No requirement to present but encouraged. ?? archived

Cheyenne Young Men’s Literary Club


Cheyenne Artists Guild

Mr. Tucker Fagan, President

No website


Men: limit-30

Tues. eve. from Sept-May

Discuss topics for hour; then formal essay 20 min & discussion. Issues discussed & essays archived: Wyoming State Archives.









Utopian LC

Founded by African-American women having similar interests in literature, art, sculpture & painting; encourage and promote fellowship conducive to mental growth.



Dr. Miriam Shropshire, President

1916- Present

Celebrated 80th anniversary in March 1996

Limit to 25 active women

3rd Thur each mo. Sept-May

Club hosts literary programs, invited speakers, plays. Members present papers. The Club supports charitable organizations & publishes a year book.

Archives at Emory University, Atlanta (Club Records, 1927-2004); in 1996 records donated to Atlanta Auburn Ave Research Library on African-American Culture and History

Boswell Club (& Johnson Teaers)

In rebellion, the club has no by-laws or charter. Membership pin shape of Phi Beta Kappa key with a magnum of champagne and an open book. Aim: " study Johnsoniana and Boswelliana with a slightly modern slant."


Union League of Chicago Archives: limited information and no knowledge whether the club exists today.

According to Paul T. Ruxin, Governor of the Dr. Johnson House: Boswell Club no longer extant. `

Union League Club archivist believes the club no longer exists; it met into the early 1970s.

August 21, 1942 at the Union League Club, Chicago to early 1970s. Founded by authors, educators, and publishers

Men; ~80 members ca. 1965


Patterned after "The Club" of S. Johnson and Boswell’s 18th c England. Archives: Union League Club, Chicago. ? some material at Newberry Library, Chicago. Activities: Recitations; assumed aliases of Samuel Johnson, Oliver Goldsmith, etc.; donned robes and wigs and granted whimsical degrees: "Doctor of Frustration and Doctor of Worldly Wisdom."

"The Club" Founded by lawyers/profs at Berkeley


No permanent address

Philip Bowles, member 505 Sansome Street, #1945, San Fran, CA


12 members; Men

Meet 2nd Mon each mo. at a member’s home

Readings of essays; Essays archived at Berkeley’s Bancroft Library.

White Rock Literary Review Club—name changed to Dallas LC (1960)


Await infor






Cedar Literary Club


Cedar Rapids Country Club

Treasurer: Mr. Seidl: 319-377-5619


All persons;

No limit; Present: 55

Monthly dinner meetings; last Tues of mo., Sept-May, except Dec.

Readings: original papers, any topic. Note: Tragic June ’09 Cedar Rapids flood destroyed 14 bound vol. of Club papers. ? Archived







Note: The General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC), Washington, D.C. has 121,500 members in 3,608 clubs in the U.S. Of these U.S. clubs, 29 active GFWC clubs have "literary" in their name. Per Membership Director, Debbe Gladstone, (Jan 12, 2009). Indiana has 811 members in 46 clubs.


Selected references:

1. Croly, Jennie June Cunningham. The History of the Woman’s Club Movement in America. New York: Henry G. Allen, 1898.

2. Emerson, Ralph Waldo. The Early Years of the Saturday Club 1855-1870. Boston & New York: Houghton Mifflin Company. 1918. Available online December 22, 2008 at:

3. Gere, Anne Ruggles. Intimate Practices: Literacy and Cultural Work in U.S. Women’s Clubs: 1880-1920. Urbana & Chicago: University of Illinois Press., 1997.

4. Putnam RD. The Strange Disappearance of Civic America. The American Prospect no. 24 (Winter 1996): Accessed online December 31, 2008.

5. Beals FL. Boswell in Chicago. Chicago: The Boswell Club, 1946,

6. Indianapolis Literary Club. Indianapolis Literary Club Summarized Record, 1877-1934. Compiled by the secretary Stephen C. Noland. With an essay of the club by the compiler. Indianapolis, IN, 1934.

7. Indianapolis Literary Club Records, 1877-2002. Processed by Latham, Harter, Caldwell, Tranfield from 1885-2003, Manuscript and Visual Collections Department, William Henry Smith Memorial Library, Indiana Historical Society, Indianapolis, IN. Available online Nov 1, 2008:

8. The Indianapolis Literary Club Summarized Record, 1976-2003: To which is appended historical reminiscences & vignettes. Compiled by the Secretary, Raymond E. Gnat, Edited by Lawrence S. Conner. One Hundred Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Volume, Indianapolis, Indiana. Printed for the Club, April 2004. Indianapolis Literary Club Foundation, 2004.

9. The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis. David J. Bodenhamer and Robert G. Barrows (eds.) with assistance of David G. Vanderstel. Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1994.

10. The Fortnightly Club, Fort Wayne, 1921-22. Available online Nov 8, 2008:

11. Gookin, Frederick William, A History of its first fifty years. Chicago: Printed for the Club, 1926. Available online December 14, 2008,:

12. Loe M. Women’s Research Clubs: Healthy Stimulation through the Ages. Draft in prep for publication. By Meika Loe, Assoc Prof Sociology and Women’s studies, Colgate University, Dec 14, 2008.

13. Loe M. The Women’s academy down the hill. The Colgate Scene May 2007. Available online December 13, 2008 at:

14. Madison Literary Club, 25th Anniversary, 1877-1902. Madison, WI: The Parsons Printing Co. 1904.

15. A Drawing Room of Their Own. By Dinitia Smith, New York Times, June 12, 2005.

16. City Club Women Hail 50th Jubilee: 800 affiliates of Federation Celebrate with a festival and luncheon here. Mar 27, 1953. New York Times.

17. Oldest Woman’s club in City Celebrates with "Drama Day." June 4, 1918. New York Times.

18. Sorosis, "Mother of Clubs," marks its 70th anniversary this week. By Kathleen McLaughlin, March 6, 1938. New York Times, Section: Society News…, pp. 77.

19. Woman’s Club of Chicago Celebrates: It is Eighteen Years Old and Strong and Well Managed. New York Times Feb 23, 1895.

20. Philadelphia Reflections: The musings of a Philadelphia Physician who has served the community for nearly six decades. Available online Nov 8 2008:

21. Poole, William Frederick. Anti-Slavery Opinions Before the Year 1800. Read before the Cincinnati Literary Club, Nov 16, 1872. Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & CO., 1873. Available online December 14, 2008 at:

22. The Literary Club of Cincinnati: Constitution, Catalogue of Members, Etc. By Literary Club of Cincinnati, Literary Club of Cincinnati. Published by Robert Clarke & Co., printers, 1890. (92 pages)

23. Literary club of Cincinnati, 1849-1949: Centennial Book. By Literary Club of Cincinnati, Literary Club of Cincinnati. Published by Roessler Bros., Printers, 1949 (101 pages)

24. The Literary Club of Cincinnati. In The Bookman: An Illustrated Magazine of Literature and Life. Vol. XXIII (March, 1906-August, 1906. New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1906, pp. 33-34.

25. Scott, EB. Early Literary Clubs in New York City. Amer Literature 1933;5(No. 1):3-16

26. Shilton EA. A twenty-minute history of the Chicago Literary Club, presented Nov 28, 1960. Chicago: The Chicago Literary Club, 1998.

Indianapolis Literary Club

January 12, 2009

Essayist: Stephen J. Jay M.D.

"Art in the blood is liable to take the strangest forms" (Sherlock Holmes)