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The Club records, 1905-1994.
Club (Montpelier, Vt.)
Library Call Number Copy Material Location
Vermont Historical Society Library  Doc 208-211  Manuscript  Vault-Manuscript 

Corporate Author : Club (Montpelier, Vt.)
Title : The Club records, 1905-1994.
Physical Description : 4.5 linear feet.
General Note : Continued in: MSA 424.
Summary :

The papers of The Club contain a nearly unbroken record of the organization's history from 1905 to 1994. The materials include member rosters, club proceedings, annual program booklets (or yearbooks), attendance records, financial records, correspondence, newspaper articles, and members' biographical information and obituaries.

Three official club histories written by members are found in the collection: one written in 1938 with a 1949 supplement by Dorman B. E. Kent; one written in 1960 by Harold Bailey; and one in 1980, by Lloyd Hayward and Hiram Hunn. Membership information includes member lists and biographical information for individual members, including obituaries. It also includes correspondence pertaining to individual member acceptances and resignations, letters containing biographical information, and newspaper articles about members. The Club's official member rosters always list members in the order in which they joined.

The collection contains a complete set of The Club's annual yearbooks, from 1908 to 1992/93 (minus one year, 1978/79). There was no program printed for 1911/12. The yearbooks contain a printed schedule of all papers to be presented for the coming year, listing titles, presenters and hosts. In addition, the yearbook contains the roster of all active and honorary members as of that year, and lists that year's officers. Also included are annotated duplicates of some yearbooks with changes or corrections.

The series Club Business contains records of club proceedings: meeting minutes, attendance records, financial records, policy, programming, club correspondence, and incidental member lists, from The Club's inception to its demise. A group of program reminder postcards are also found in this section. Formal club records in any form are rather scant around 1976. After 1985, records were kept on small scraps of paper.

The member presentation papers were the focus of The Club's activities. A broad sampling of papers is found here, ranging widely in quality and content. The collection assembles 323 of these papers, dating between 1909 and 1993, and written by 49 of the 210 members. In the collection, they are arranged alphabetically, by author, for ease of retrieval. Appended to the finding aid is a detailed inventory of papers listed alphabetically by author, giving titles, date, and subject, noting items of particular Vermont interest. The list is also sorted by date. Chronological lists of papers may also be found in the Yearbooks (Series III). Another 26 presentation papers, by five more members, are found in other VHS library locations, noted in the inventory under "Related Collections." This series also contains a large group of press releases and news articles containing abstracts of presentation papers.

Biographical or historical data :

The Club was founded by John H. Senter of Montpelier in December 1905 when he enlisted 22 men to revive the defunct Shakespeare Club, a literary club which had disbanded in 1902. The Club's purpose was to be the "...pursuit of ideas, a search for insights and meanings, and renewed acquaintance with events of the past...all with a cordial affiliation." Each member was to present one paper per year on any topic other than religion or politics, of 30-60 minutes duration, with discussion following. Topics included biography, science and technology, economics, history, reminiscences, philosophy, hobbies, education, commentary on the times, Vermont lore, and public policy. The scope of subject matter ranged from global to local, scholarly to humorous.

The membership, initially set at 26, was reduced to 25 in 1925, with each member responsible for hosting one meeting per year in addition to presenting his paper. The Club met, in suit and tie, every Saturday evening in a member's home or a public meeting place from the first week in September to the last week in June (in later years, from late October till May 1). A "lunch" (snacks) was served. Following the informality of the Shakespeare Club, the fledgling Club kept no records and had no by-laws. After 1911, records were kept, with the missing six years' minutes reconstructed from Club press releases in the local newspaper, since every meeting since inception was reported in the press.

Club membership was only for men and by invitation. Membership was for life or until a member resigned. During its 90-year existence, The Club had a total of 210 members who were prominent in the Montpelier community - state officials, clergymen, physicians, lawyers, merchants, educators, insurance men, bankers. Male guests were welcome at any time but could not present papers. Until 1972, all members lived in Montpelier. Many members had a connection to the Calais/ East Montpelier area of Central Vermont (Messrs. Kent, Dwinell, Davis, Morse, Cate). The Club had no by-laws or formal incorporation. Culture and traditions shaped the rules of order which remained unwritten over the years.

In early days, women were only allowed to attend the rare Ladies' Nights. When the meeting was held in her home, a wife was expected to stay "in the kitchen" and keep her children "well hidden." After 1968, concessions were made when Ladies' Night became an annual event featuring a speaker and dinner.

By 1990, several members publicly stated they would be willing to admit women to The Club. In 1994, members voted to disband The Club. The primary reason given for the group's demise was that life was "too busy." Membership had dwindled to 12 men. In its last years, The Club's records were kept on little scraps of paper rather than in big leather-bound books.

Corporate Subject : Club Montpelier, Vt.
Subject Term : Clubs Vermont Montpelier.
Geographic Term : Vermont History.
Vermont Biography.
Montpelier (Vt.) Archival resources.
Genre/Form : Membership lists.
Financial records.
Electronic Resource : Click here for full text of finding aid.