Skip to main content
COLLECTION Identifier: HUD 3276.7000

Records of the Harvard Club of Chicago


The Harvard Club of Chicago, founded in 1857, is the oldest of Harvard’s alumni clubs still in existence. The Club celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2007. The records document the history, activities, and interests of the Club, and include general information, a small amount of correspondence and minutes, and directories of members.


  • 1875-1996 (inclusive)

Conditions on use and access:

Some restrictions apply. Consult reference staff for details.


0.35 cubic feet (1 document boxes)

The records document the history, activities, and interests of the Harvard Club of Chicago, with a particular emphasis on the Club's annual dinners and lists of members.

Documents include ephemera, newsclippings, a small amount of minutes and correspondence, and publications.

History of the Harvard Club of Chicago

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.


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

Series and subseries in the collection

  1. General information
  2. ___History
  3. ___Newsclippings
  4. ___Programs from annual dinners
  5. ___Ephemera
  6. ___Scholarships
  7. Minutes
  8. Correspondence
  9. Photographs
  10. Publications
  11. ___Reports
  12. ___Directories and yearbooks
  13. ___Histories

Acquisition Information

  1. C.W. Eliot; 1883
  2. The Club; 1911
  3. The Club; 1912, November 4
  4. The Club; 1914
  5. G.S. Forbes; 1964

General note

This document last updated 2008 August 5.

Processing Information

The Records of the Harvard Club of Chicago were first classified and described in the Harvard University Archives shelflist prior to 1980. In July 2008, Juliana Kuipers re-processed the material. Re-processing included integrating and reorganizing the records, re-housing materials in appropriate containers, establishing a series and subseries hierarchy, and the creation of this inventory. All call numbers were simplified.

Harvard Club of Chicago. Records of the Harvard Club of Chicago : an inventory
Harvard University Archives
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Harvard University Archives Repository

Holding nearly four centuries of materials, the Harvard University Archives is the principal repository for the institutional records of Harvard University and the personal archives of Harvard faculty, as well as collections related to students, alumni, Harvard-affiliates and other associated topics. The collections document the intellectual, cultural, administrative and social life of Harvard and the influence of the University as it emerged across the globe.

Pusey Library
Harvard Yard
Cambridge MA 02138 USA
(617) 495-2461