1864-1995; bulk: 1885-1965
Guide to the Collection
This collection contains the records of the Saturday Club, a Boston social and literary organization, including correspondence, membership records, financial records, drafts and research for the club's published books of biographical sketches, and printed material.
The Saturday Club was informally founded in Boston in 1855 on the initiative of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Samuel Gray Ward, and Horatio Woodman. Other notable founders and early members included Louis Agassiz, Richard Henry Dana, Jr., James Russell Lowell, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The club met for dinner and conversation at 3:00 pm on the last Saturday of every month at the Parker House. The club gradually became more formalized until it incorporated in 1886, for the purpose of "having conversation and discussion upon historical, literary, scientific, and artistic subjects." The monthly meal was changed to a 1:30 pm lunch in 1898, and the club changed its primary meeting location to the Union Club in 1902. Besides conversation and club business such as the nomination of members, meetings could include occasional guests, lectures, readings, and polls on current events. The other major activity of the Saturday Club was the publication on a regular basis of books containing biographical sketches of deceased members, detailing their lives and their involvement in the Saturday Club. The first published book, Early Years of the Saturday Club, 1855-1870, was written by Edward Waldo Emerson. In succession are: Later Years of the Saturday Club, 1870-1920, edited by M.A. de Wolfe Howe; Saturday Club: A Century Completed, edited by Edward W. Forbes and John H. Finley, Jr.; The Saturday Club, 1957-1986, edited by Thomas B. Adams and Paul Brooks; and Saturday Club: the 150-Year Milestone, 1986-2006, edited by James Engell and Michael Sinagel. The Saturday Club continues to this day.
The Saturday Club records date from 1864 to 1995, with the bulk dating from 1885 to 1965, and are divided into three series: administrative records, publication drafts and research, and printed material.
The administrative records include correspondence, meeting and membership records, legal records pertaining to the club's incorporation, and financial records. Correspondence relates to the administration and activities of the club including discussion of meetings, nominations of members, club finances, and publication of the club's books. Primary correspondents are club secretaries, presidents, and book editors, including Charles E. Norton, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Richard Henry Dana, Jr., Edward Waldo Forbes, Edward Waldo Emerson, Mark Anthony DeWolfe Howe, Charles W. Eliot, Bliss Perry, and John H. Finley, Jr. Meeting and membership records consist of bound record books, meeting minutes and attendance records, members' signature and portrait records, attendance cards, and lists of members. Financial records include account books, financial reports and statements, banking records, securities records, bills and receipts, and royalty statements from Houghton Mifflin for the club's books.
Publication drafts and research include biographical material about members that was gathered for publication of the club's books. Biographical research material ranges from newspaper clippings and excerpts from correspondence to notes, memos, and drafts related to the books' production and their introductory chapters.
Printed material includes annual members' pamphlets, members' memoirs, book reviews, membership charts, Bliss Perry's Recollections of the Saturday Club (1942), and miscellaneous printed materials.
1864-1927 records deposited by Mark A. DeWolfe Howe, 1929
1927-1965 records deposited by Thomas Boylston Adams and Elliot Forbes, various dates.
1965-1995 records deposited by the Saturday Club, July 2009.
Detailed Description of the Collection
I. Administrative records, 1864-1965
This series includes correspondence; meeting minutes, attendance, and other membership records; legal records; and financial records. The correspondence concerns administration and activities of the club, such as meetings, new members, elections, finances, and book production. . Prominent correspondents include Charles E. Norton, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Richard Henry Dana, Jr., Edward Waldo Forbes, Edward Waldo Emerson, Mark Anthony DeWolfe Howe, Charles W. Eliot, Bliss Perry, and John H. Finley, Jr. Membership records include bound record books, attendance cards, and lists of members. Meeting minutes include committee reports, and describe such activities as nomination of members, votes, and discussions. Legal records are primarily records of the club's incorporation. Financial records include an account book, treasurer's annual reports and statements on expenditures and income, banking records, bills and receipts, and royalty statements from Houghton Mifflin and Company.
A. Correspondence, 1885-1963
This subseries contains correspondence related to the administration and activities of the Saturday Club. Correspondence throughout the subseries concerns attendance at meetings, nominating new members, acceptance of membership, and election of officers.
From 1870 to 1890, Charles E. Norton, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Richard Henry Dana, Jr. were central correspondents in their roles as club administrators. Other early correspondents include Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Dean Howells, John A. Andrew, Phillips Brooks, George F. Hoar, and Charles Francis Adams. Topics of correspondence include club issues such as ensuring attendance and discussion, as well as current events.
Edward Waldo Forbes became secretary in 1910, and was a major correspondent from that point until his resignation in 1961. Much correspondence concerns his project to collect autographs of club members who had not signed the second Saturday Club record book, as well as portraits of all club members. Other frequent topics from 1910 to 1961 include member resignations, bylaws, club meeting agendas, and luncheon arrangements. Another major topic is the club's finances, such as trusts, donations received and given, and securities. Correspondents include the Cambridge Trust Company, J.M. Forbes and Co., and members of the club's Financial Committee such as Edward W. Forbes's brother Cameron Forbes.
Correspondence related to the Saturday Club's books includes discussion of production and finances with publisher Houghton Mifflin, assignment of biographical sketches to club members by Saturday Club editors and presidents, and thank-you notes from recipients of the books. Writing The Early Years of the Saturday Club was proposed in 1906, and from 1916 to 1919 correspondence centered on its production and reception, with editor Edward Waldo Emerson a major correspondent. Planning for The Later Years of the Saturday Club then began, and correspondence focused on it from 1926 to 1928, with editor Mark Anthony DeWolfe Howe and club presidents Charles W. Eliot and Bliss Perry major correspondents. Correspondence related to preliminary preparation for The Saturday Club: A Century Completed dates from 1948 and 1950, while that related to its production dates from 1955 to 1958, primarily with editors Edward Waldo Forbes and John H. Finley, Jr.
B. Meeting minutes, attendance, and membership records, 1864-1963
Arranged chronologically and by record type.
This subseries contains Saturday Club record books, minutes and attendance records, and lists of members. The Saturday Club record books consist of two bound volumes with typescript copies. The first record book contains attendance records by meeting, notes on the adoption of club rules, and lists of people nominated and chosen for membership. The second record book includes the 1886 records of incorporation, charter, bylaws, club election reports, and summaries of meetings from 1886 to 1925. Also present are attendance cards mailed to the Union Club by members to indicate that they would be present at the next luncheon. Membership records include lists of members and material from Edward Waldo Forbes's project to collect portraits of all club members, as well as autographs of club members who had not signed the second Saturday Club record book.
i. Saturday Club record books, 1875-1925
ii. Loose records, 1910-1959
iii. Members' signatures and portraits records, 1910-1959
iv. Attendance cards, 1918-1947
v. Membership lists, 1864-1963
C. Legal records, 1885-1927
This subseries consists of incorporation papers including the 1886 agreement of association and notice of first meeting, along with the 1927 publishing agreement with Houghton-Mifflin for The Later Years of the Saturday Club.
D. Financial records, 1889-1965
Arranged chronologically and by record type.
This subseries contains an account book, financial reports and statements, banking records, securities records, bills and receipts, and royalty statements. The account book was kept from 1889-1912 by Oliver Wendell Holmes and club treasurers W.W. Goodwin and Edward W. Forbes. The financial reports and statements include treasurer's annual reports and statements by W.W. Goodwin, Edward W. Forbes, and William H. Claflin. Securities records contain Edward W. Forbes' records of shares and bonds, including stock receipts and letters to stockholders. Starting in 1930, J.M. Forbes and Co. handled the club's securities, and the securities records consist only of statements from them. The securities records also include a bound volume kept by Edward W. Forbes that shows security accounting by company. Bills and receipts are for routine club activities such as lunches.
i. Account book, 1889-1912
ii. Financial reports and statements, 1909-1965
iii. Banking records, 1901-1930
iv. Securities records, 1918-1961
v. Bills and receipts, 1921-1946
vi. Royalty statements, 1922-1959
II. Publication drafts and research, 1906-1963
This series consists of notes, memos, drafts, and research for the biographical sketches in the club's books Early Years of the Saturday Club, Later Years of the Saturday Club, The Saturday Club: A Century Completed, The Saturday Club: 1957-1986, and The Saturday Club: The 150-Year Milestone. The drafts are typed or handwritten and contain edits.
A. Early Years of the Saturday Club, 1906-1918
This subseries includes general notes and memos on producing Early Years of the Saturday Club, as well as drafts and research for introductory chapters, chapters on individual years in the club's history, and biographical sketches of members.
Notable biographical subjects in this subseries include Richard Henry Dana, Jr., Ralph Waldo Emerson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Henry James, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Charles Francis Adams, and John Greenleaf Whittier.
i. Notes and memos, ca. 1906-1918
ii. Chapter drafts, 1906-1918
iii. Biographical drafts and research, 1906-1918
B. Later Years of the Saturday Club, 1921-1927
This subseries consists of notes and memos from production of Later Years of the Saturday Club, and drafts and research for book chapters, including biographical sketches of club members.
Notable biographical subjects in this subseries include Charles Francis Adams, Thomas Bailey Aldrich, Richard Henry Dana, Sr., Charles W. Eliot, William Dean Howells, Henry James, Jr., William James, and Francis Cabot Lowell.
i. Notes and memos, ca. 1921-1927
ii. Chapter drafts, ca. 1921-1927
iii. Biographical drafts and research, ca. 1921-1927
C. The Saturday Club: A Century Completed, 1941-1958
This subseries consists of notes and memos from production of The Saturday Club: A Century Completed, and drafts and research for biographical sketches of club members. Notes and memos include assignments of authors to biographical sketches, a book review of the completed book, suggested chapter mottoes, and Bliss Perry's 1942 notecards on the progress of research for the book.
Notable biographical subjects in this subseries include William C. Endicott, Edward Waldo Emerson, and Alfred North Whitehead.
i. Notes and memos, ca. 1941-1958
ii. Biographical drafts and research, ca. 1941-1958
D. The Saturday Club: 1957-1986, 1960-1963
This subseries contains lists of members for whom biographical sketches were to be written, Edward W. Forbes's writings on the history of the club, newspaper obituaries of Robert Frost, and biographical research materials on Edward Motley Pickman.
i. Notes and memos, ca. 1960-1963
ii. Drafts and research, 1960-1963
E. The Saturday Club: 150-Year Milestone research, 1957-1963
This subseries contains newspaper clippings on James R. Killian and biographical research and drafts on various other members.
F. Publication memoranda, 1906-1963
This subseries includes notes from the publication of the club's books, lists of possible biographical sources, suggested mottoes, and research material on unidentified biographical subjects.
III. Printed material, 1896-1995
A. Annual members' pamphlets, 1896-1955
Member pamphlets produced for annual meetings contain lists of club officers and present members with their addresses, recent club votes, the charter and bylaws, and lists of past members with their dates of death. Sometimes the lists have been used to keep track of tasks, such as finding portraits of all members.
B. Members' memoirs, 1905-1928
This subseries contains printed memoirs of club members. Some of the memoirs are also authored by club members, such as Edward Waldo Emerson and Moorfield Storey. Some were printed for private circulation, and others were published in periodicals or by historical or professional societies.
C. Book reviews, 1918-1958
This subseries consists of book reviews of The Early Years of the Saturday Club and The Saturday Club: A Century Completed, from publications such as Harper's Monthly, The New York Times, The Boston Sunday Globe, and Newsweek. Also included is an advertising mock-up of The Later Years of the Saturday Club.
D. Bliss Perry, Recollections of the Saturday Club, 1942
This subseries contains two printed copies of Bliss Perry's Recollections of the Saturday Club, written in 1942. Perry describes his memories of his interactions with the club and its members, atmosphere, discussions, and lunches over time.
E. Membership charts, 1949-1995
F. The Saturday Club: A Century Completed illustration mock-ups, ca. 1957
The subseries consists of illustration mockups for The Saturday Club: A Century Completed. The illustrations contain measurements, captions, and descriptions of where they will be placed in the book.
G. Miscellaneous printed material, 1920-1960
Included are invitations; a program for Moorfield Storey's funeral service; addresses, including one by Moorfield Storey; a memoir of club member George Santayana by Joel Porte; articles, including one inscribed to Edward W. Forbes, obituaries; genealogical material; and material related to the Union Club of Boston.
Photographs Removed from the Collection
The following photographs were removed from the collection to the MHS Photo. Archives:
8 x 10 black and white portrait of Edward W. Forbes, 1873-1969, autographed
6 x 8 black and white portrait of Ellery Sedgwick, 1872-1960, autographed.
6 1/2 x 9 1/2 black and white portrait of William Henry Claflin, Jr., b. 1893, autographed.
7 x 9 black and white portrait of William James, 1882-1961, autographed.
6 1/2 x 8 1/2 albumen portrait of Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Saturday Club records, Massachusetts Historical Society.
This collection is indexed under the following headings in ABIGAIL, the online catalog of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Researchers desiring materials about related persons, organizations, or subjects should search the catalog using these headings.