Thursday, May 17, 2007

Men's Literary Club

On the evening of December 29, 1899, twelve serious minded men of middle age met in the office of Judge A.E. Merrill for the purpose of organizing a “Men’s Literary Club.” The 1940 club calendar states that the object of the club was “to promote the intellectual improvement of its members,” and this was to be done through the presentation of papers, written by the members and followed by a general discussion. The club continued until 1954. The members were prominent members of the community, including doctors, lawyers, clergymen, educators, and businessmen.

Topics were often about social issues, current events, and historic events and personalities. In 1900, "H.C." spoke about “Socialism, its Progress in America.” Dr. A.J. Gawne’s paper on April 1, 1903 was “The Influence of Electricity upon the Nerve Center.” Other issues covered by members include treatment of prisoners, eugenics, unemployment, race relations, and economics.

While the Archives Research Center does not have the actual papers written by the Men’s Literary Club, copies of club calendars and membership lists for several years are kept on file.

Below is a photograph taken on December 8, 1914. The Men’s Literary Club met at the home of Dr. C. B. Bliss at 413 Columbus Avenue. Judge Malcolm Kelly, grandson of William Kelly, builder of the Marblehead Lighthouse, was the featured speaker. Judge Kelly’s address was “Things I have Enjoyed in Dickens.”

Pictured are (back row):E.A. Boyer, H.W. Parsons, Leslie Black, Dr. J. T. Haynes, Rev. F. G. Mitchell, Merritt Wilcox, Rev. Ross Sanderson; (middle) C.A. Judson, D.E. Storms, Dr. F.F. Lehman, Judge Roy Williams, Claude B.Dewitt, James T. Begg, Dr. C. B. Bliss;
(front) Rev. E.P. Graham, Judge Malcolm Kelly, C.H. Cramer, Dr. W. Storey, Dr. H. D. Peterson, Rev. C. A. Keller.

The wives of the members surprised the men by marching into the meeting dressed as characters of Dickens novels. The women paraded around the room and challenged members to tell which character they representeted.

Pictured are: (back row) Mrs. Roy Williams, Mrs. C.A. Keller, Mrs. C.A. Judson, Mrs. Leslie Black, Mrs. D.E. Storms, Mrs. C.H. Cramer, Mrs. C.B. Dewitt; (middle) Mrs. H.D.
Peterson, Mrs. J. T. Haynes, Miss Jane Mitchell, Mrs. Frank G. Mitchell, Mrs. Angie Mitchell, Mrs. James T. Begg; (front) Mrs. E.A. Boyer as Jenny Wren, Mrs. F.F. Lehman as Betsy Trotwood, Mrs. H.W. Parsons as David Copperfield’s wife; Mrs. C.B. Bliss, Mrs. Merritt Wilcox as Lady Deadlock.

For a complete collection of the records of the Men's Literary Club, contact the Center for Archival Collections at Bowling Green State University.

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