Harvard Club of Chicago

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The Harvard Club of Chicago is the oldest of Harvard's alumni clubs still in existence (as of 2008). The Club was founded in 1857 and celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2007.

From the description of Records of the Harvard Club of Chicago, 1875-1996 (inclusive) (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 416607273

The Harvard Club of Chicago is the oldest of Harvard’s alumni clubs still in existence. It was founded in 1857 by five alumni living in Chicago: Samuel Sewell Greeley (AB 1844), Charles Gilman Smith (AB 1847), Frederick Pitkin Fisher (AB 1848), Edward Lorenzo Holmes (AB 1849), and Charles Augustus Gregory (AB 1955). The original members of the club met for informal dinners from 1857-1861. Regular meetings did not resume until 1874, having been disrupted first by the Civil War and later by the Great Fire of 1871.

The Club was officially organized on June 27, 1874 as the Harvard Association of Chicago, and continued the earlier tradition of annual dinners and social gatherings. The Association met at the University Club, which was founded in Chicago by representatives of the local alumni associations of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and the University of Michigan. In 1881, the Association was re-named the Harvard Club of Chicago although it did not incorporate under its new name until 1899.

During the 1880s, the Club developed a closer relationship with the University, with visits to Chicago by President Eliot and faculty members. This relationship was furthered with the election of George Everett Adams (AB 1860) to Harvard's Board of Overseers in 1892: he was the first Harvard graduate from Chicago to hold that position. A year later, the Club founded a scholarship for graduate study at Harvard, the second scholarship ever offered by a Harvard Club. The Club founded a scholarship for undergraduate study in 1903. The scholarship program remained an important part of the Club’s mission, along with the Schools Committee created to interview prospective high school seniors. The Scholarships and Schools Committees were especially active in the early 1950s, as they increased their efforts to support the expansion of Harvard admissions recruiting throughout the country.

In 1897, the Club became a charter member of the Associated Harvard Clubs, along with ten other clubs. The Club also developed relationships with other collegiate alumni associations in the Chicago area, notably Yale and Princeton. Beyond meeting at the University Club, and hosting joint smokers, in 1924 the Harvard Club of Chicago, along with associations from Yale and Princeton, founded the Harvard-Yale-Princeton Club. This club was organized to give younger graduations a social and athletic organization, and featured both squash courts and bedrooms; however, the club was forced to close in 1934, and officially dissolved in 1936.

The Club elected its first woman director, Margaret McGregor (Radcliffe AB 1928), in 1954, and women were first invited to the annual dinner in 1956. The Club celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1957, and membership reached 1,000 for the first time that year. In an effort to increase interest in the club among younger alumni, the Decade Group was established in 1957. The first annual awards dinner was held in March 1967; the annual award was presented to an individual “who has made a distinguished contribution to the greater Chicago community in some field other than his or her primary occupation.” Many of the covers of the awards dinner programs featured artwork by John Holabird, Jr. (AB 1942).

In 2007, the Club celebrated its 150th anniversary, when an extensive history of the club, edited by Walter Keats, was published. As of 2008, the Harvard Club of Chicago remains one of the largest urban alumni clubs at Harvard, with a membership of over 1,300.

Keats, Walter L., ed. 150 years of the Harvard Club of Chicago, 1857-2007. Kenilworth, Ill.: Harvard Club of Chicago, c2007. Hamlin, Arthur T. The Harvard Club of Chicago: a centennial history. Chicago, 1958.

From the guide to the Records of the Harvard Club of Chicago, 1875-1996 (inclusive), (Harvard University Archives)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Papers of John Coolidge and Agnes Mongan, 1909-2006 Harvard Art Museum Archives
referencedIn Records of the President of Radcliffe College, 1972-1989 Radcliffe College Archives, Radcliffe Institute
creatorOf Records of the Harvard Club of Chicago, 1875-1996 (inclusive) Harvard University Archives.
referencedIn Hasty Pudding Club Theatricals souvenir programs, 1899-2003. Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn Harvard Club of Chicago (Ill.). [Miscellaneous pamphlets]. Chicago History Museum
referencedIn Rogers Memorial Collection: Henry Munroe Rogers papers, 1812-1937 (inclusive), 1862-1937 (bulk). Houghton Library.
creatorOf Harvard Club of Chicago. Records of the Harvard Club of Chicago, 1875-1996 (inclusive) Harvard University, Archives
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Arthur T. Hamlin person
associatedWith Charles William Eliot person
correspondedWith Coolidge, John, 1913-1995 person
associatedWith Harvard Club of Chicago (Ill.) corporateBody
associatedWith Harvard University corporateBody
associatedWith Henry Kissinger. person
correspondedWith Matina Horner person
associatedWith Nathan Pusey person
associatedWith Rogers, Henry Munroe, 1839-1937 person
associatedWith Samuel Sewall Greeley person
associatedWith Samuel S. Greeley person
associatedWith Walter L. Keats person
Place Name Admin Code Country

Corporate Body

Active 1875

Active 1996


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