This collection has been transferred to the Cambridge Public Library. Please direct questions to the archivist of the Cambridge Room.
Access: There are no restrictions to items in this collection.
Permission to Publish: Requests for permission to publish from the collection should be made to the Executive Director.
Copyright: The Cambridge Historical Society does not hold copyright on the materials in the collection.
The Harvard Lyceum was founded on October 21, 1879 by citizens of Cambridge. The lyceum’s original constitution specified that membership was not to exceed 150, with membership limited to men residing in Cambridge. The objective was to promote literary and social culture among its members, and especially to consider and discuss questions related to the welfare of the city of Cambridge. Meetings were originally held at Pythian Hall, Main Street, on the first and third Mondays of every month except June, July and August.
At a meeting held at Prospect House on October 21, 1881, it was decided, due to steadily diminishing membership, to appoint a committee to form a new organization. The amended constitution and by-laws were presented on November 17, 1881, and the organization’s name was changed to the Cambridge Club. (The number of members and the stipulation against non-Cambridge residence were adjusted in later years.) Monthly meetings, consisting of dinner and a lecture, were held at Prospect House until October 1882, when the location was changed to Young’s Hotel in Boston. (The Club resumed meeting in Cambridge, first at the Commander Hotel and then at the Continental, on November 21, 1927.) On March 20, 1882, the Club instituted an annual Ladies’ Night, which female guests were permitted to attend. The Ladies’ Night meetings were held at Temple Hall in Cambridge, and sometimes featured music rather than a lecture.
Meetings featured talks on local issues, such as “Rapid Transit between Cambridge and Boston” and “What is the Solution to the Unemployment Situation in Massachusetts?” One such local issue was the condition of the Cambridge Public Library. The club discussed the library’s needs at meetings on April 21, 1884 and March 17, 1886, and these discussions led to the appointment of a committee headed by William E. Russell, the current mayor of Cambridge. This in turn led to Frederick H. Rindge’s gift of a new library building. Occasionally broader topics, such as “Influences of the Radio on Modern Life” and “Impressions of France During the [first world] War” were presented.
Cambridge Club Historical Sketch, 1905
The Cambridge Club 1879 – 1939: Historical Sketch; Constitution and By-Laws; Members, Past and Present. Cambridge, Mass., The Cosmos Press, 1939
The collection provides a vivid look at the club’s activities between 1894 and 1932. Further, the lecture topics offer an intriguing view of social and cultural topics of moment at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. In addition to meeting programs and menus, materials include correspondence, directors’ and treasurers’ reports, memorials for club members, the club’s constitution and by-laws, and a history of the club between 1879 and 1939. In addition, the collection includes five scrapbooks, which are described further in the series descriptions.
Men—Massachusetts—Societies and clubs
Cambridge (Mass.)—Intellectual life
Cambridge (Mass.)—Social life and customs
Dinners and dining—United States
The collection is arranged into five series, as follows:
1. Administrative/Governance, n.d., 1879 – 1939
2. Scrapbooks, 1879 – 1930
3. Programs, 1894 – 1932
4. Correspondence, 1895 – 1927, with gaps
5. Membership, n.d., 1888, 1894, 1903 – 1934
Series I: Administrative/Governance (n.d., 1879 – 1939)
This series consists of the club and lyceum’s original constitution and bylaws, and also includes some revised bylaws. Also located here is a volume including a history of the club’s early years, photographs of presidents from 1881 to 1939, lists of officers and members, and a list of program topics and speakers from 1894 to 1939. (Speakers included Cambridge Mayors David T. Dickinson, Edward W. Quinn, Richard M. Russell, John D. Lynch, and John W. Lyons, Boston Mayors Josiah Quincy and Andrew T. Peters, Harvard Presidents Charles W. Eliot and A. Lawrence Lowell, MIT Presidents Richard D. MacLaurin and Samuel E. Stratton, and Colonel Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Professor Felix Frankfurter, and Frederick L. Olmsted, Jr.) Also included are officer’s reports and a ledger of yearly income and expenditures.
1|1|Cambridge Club: Historical Sketch; Constitution and By-Laws; Members, Past and Present, 1939
1|2|Harvard Lyceum Constitution and By-Laws, n.d., 1879(?)
1|3|Amended By-Laws, n.d., 1896, 1926
1|4|Board of Directors Reports, n.d., 1885, 1887 – 1888, 1892 – 1894, 1913
1|5|Treasurer’s Reports, 1882 – 1895, 1913 – 1929, with gaps
1|6|Ledger, 1879 – 1919
Series II: Scrapbooks (1879 – 1930)
The first two scrapbooks document the early years of the club and lyceum and consist of handwritten meeting minutes and reports, with an increasing number of additional objects, such as meeting programs, memorials, correspondence, and newspaper clippings describing the club’s activities pasted in. The second scrapbook also includes a small booklet containing a 1905 historical sketch of the Cambridge Club, the club’s constitution and by-laws, and a list of members. (This booklet is pasted inside the scrapbook’s front cover.) In later years, the meeting minutes were typed up and pasted into the scrapbooks with the other items. Some overlap exists between the Scrapbooks series and the Programs, Correspondence, and Membership series, but some material appears only in the scrapbooks, which effectively constitute a description of the club’s activities during each year. Several interesting items can be found in the scrapbooks, such as a description of a 1901 club excursion on the Boston Elevated Railway Company’s new elevated lines. Care is necessary in handling the scrapbooks, as many of the news clippings are extremely fragile. In some cases, several items overlap, or are folded. (The last folder in this series contains items which were removed from the scrapbooks.)
2|1|Harvard Lyceum Records, October 1879 – December 1893
2|2|Cambridge Lyceum Club Records, January 1894 – December 1909
2|3|Cambridge Lyceum Club Records, January 1910 – December 1914|
2|4|Cambridge Lyceum Club Records, January 1915 – December 1922
2|5|Cambridge Lyceum Club Records, January 1923 – December 1930
1|7|Items Removed from Scrapbooks
Series III: Programs (1894 – 1932)
This series consists of programs for meetings of the Cambridge Club. Both general meetings and Ladies’ Nights programs are included. Topics could be as broad as “Juvenile Delinquency” or as specific as “The Fogg Museum of Fine Arts” and ranged from “Cambridge Trees and their Enemies” to “China and its Recent Awakening.” Menus for dinners held at meetings can also be found here, as can diagrams of seat arrangements for Ladies’ Night. The series also includes some news articles describing club meetings and a folder of handwritten notes, mainly pertaining to program arrangements. In addition, some photographs are located here.
|8|Programs, 1895 – 1918
|9|Programs, 1919 – 1921
|10|Programs, 1922 – 1924
|11|Programs, 1925 – 1926
1|12|Programs, 1927 – 1932
1|13|Menus, 1894 – 1898
1|14|Menus, 1898 – 1900
1|15|Menus, 1901 – 1923
1|16|Notes/Program Arrangements, n.d., 1913
1|17|News Clippings, 1895, 1907
1|18|Seat Arrangements: Ladies’ Nights, 1894, 1896 – 1898, 1901 – 1902
1|19|Photographs, n.d. 3.01 CCL – 3.03 CCL – Unidentified Cambridge Club event [Harold A. Parker], n.d. (duplicates)
Series IV: Correspondence (1895 – 1927 with gaps)
Much of the correspondence relates to meeting arrangements, attendance, and invited speakers. Some material pertains to membership; issues addressed include nominations for membership or elected office, the writing of memorial tributes for deceased members, and whether members were obliged to forfeit membership on relocating from Cambridge. (Folder 23 includes a small group of material presumably received from George Wright.)
1|20|Correspondence, n.d., 1895 – 1905, with gaps
1|23|Correspondence, 1911 – 1912, 1926
1|30|Correspondence, 1924 – 1927
Series V: Membership (n.d., 1888, 1894, 1903 – 1934)
The bulk of this series consists of memorials for members of the club. Members included prominent Cambridge figures, such as James Cruikshank Scorgie, who became superintendent of Mount Auburn Cemetery in 1896. (During his tenure, the cemetery’s office and chapel were completed, and the crematory was built.) Among the other members were John Amee, proprietor of a Harvard Square bookstore, and William Frothingham Bradbury, first headmaster of Cambridge Latin School. (Bradbury’s ancestor Thomas Bradbury arrived in Ipswich, Massachusetts in 1636 and played a prominent role in that town’s development, though his wife was tried and convicted as a witch.) Other notable members whose obituaries can be found here include the Hon. Frank H. Hill, Secretary of the State Board of Education, and the Hon. Chester W. Kingsley, who served in the State Senate and House of Representatives. (Also included here are proposals for membership and elected office and a list of paying guests.)
|31|Memorials, 1903 – 1934
|32|Obituary Sketch: William Frothingham Bradbury (Cambridge Historical Society Bulletin), 1915
1|33|Obituary Sketch: Ray Greene Huling (Boston Baptist Social Union), 1915
1|34|Nominated Officers Reports, 1888, 1910 – 1929, with gaps
1|35|Proposals for Membership, 1911 – 1931, with gaps
1|36|List of Members, 1894
1|37|Paying Guests, n.d.