The Calliopean Society Records include meeting minutes, constitutions, bylaws, and other documents created during the the Society's founding and operation. Additional documents include meeting notices, membership rolls, event programs, and student writing. The bulk of the material date from the Society's founding in 1852 through its formal dissolution in 1918. Also included are documents created during revivals of the Society that occurred in the late-1970s and mid-1990s.
Single photocopies and digital photographs may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish materials from the collection must be requested from the Archivist. Researchers are responsible for determining any other copyright questions.
The Lawrenceville School Calliopean Society was founded in 1852 by several students under the guidance of Rev. Hugh Hamill. It was modeled after the Calliopean Society at Yale College, which was a literary and debating club founded in 1819. Their stated objective was, "to promote literary culture by giving special attention to Elocution and Composition by various exercises of speaking, writing, debating, etc." Club members were expected to maintain the affairs, rituals, and initiation process of the club secret. Membership was limited to 45 students, thus making it a prestigious honor. Important Calliopean Society events included the annual debate with the Philomathean Society and their annual banquet.
As the club moved into the 20th century, it shifted it's focus from literature to politics. The club began to chose it's membership based on political leanings rather than literary acumen. In 1902, Head Master Simon J. McPherson forbade secret societies on campus but allowed the Calliopean and its sister club the Philomathean to continue operating. The Calliopean Society was effectively disbanded in 1924 after members of club refused to accept changes to their constitution that had been proposed by the Board of Trustees. Several revivals have occurred since the original club disbanded but it is not currently in operation.
The Calliopean Society Records are organized into three series: Series 1: By-Laws and Constitution, 1852-1994; Series 2: General Files, 1854-1978; Series 3: Meeting Minutes, 1852-1913.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The records were transferred from The Lawrenceville School Calliopean Society to the Archives.
Appraisal has been conducted in accordance with The Lawrenceville School Stephan Archives guidelines.
Information in the historical note was gathered from material within the Calliopean records, as well as Five Miles Away: The Story of The Lawrenceville School by Samuel R. Slaymaker, II.
The Calliopean Society Records were processed by Casey Babcock in November-December of 2011.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Calliopean Society Records, Box and Folder Number; The Lawrenceville School Stephan Archives. http://archivesspace.lawrenceville.org/repositories/2/resources/43 Accessed November 23, 2017.
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