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COLLECTION Identifier: HUD 3277.4500

Records of the Choate Club, 1955-1967

Overview

The Choate Club was founded at the Harvard Law School in 1887 as a chapter of the Phi Delta Phi, a law-school fraternity. In its later years, the Club appears to have been a secret society composed of Law School students and professors, with a focus on social and intellectual stimulation outside of study of the law. The Records of the Choate Club document the history, activities, and interests of the Club. The Club should not be confused with the Law School's Choate Law Club, associated with the Ames Competition for moot court cases.

Dates

  • 1955-1967

Creator

Conditions on use and access:

Closed until 2017.

Extent

0.18 cubic feet (1 half document box)
The records primarily document the social activities of the Choate Club from 1955-1967, but include documentation of the history of the Club. The bulk of the records consist of incoming and outgoing correspondence between members of the Club and potential or confirmed speakers for the Club's monthly meetings. Because of the Club’s secret nature, the correspondence regularly includes information on the Club’s history for the benefit of potential speakers; this history includes the names of past members and speakers and their topics. Within the correspondence can also be found lists of speakers with a few biographical notes and newsclippings, and the occasional meeting notice. The outgoing correspondence includes drafts of letters by Club members, much of it with manuscript annotations and comments.

History of the Choate Club

The Choate Club was founded at the Harvard Law School in 1887 as a chapter (or inn) of the Phi Delta Phi, a law-school fraternity. It is unclear if or when ties with the fraternity were severed. The Club was in existence until about 1918, when it became dormant due to World War I. The Club was revived by old members in approximately 1934.

In its later years, the Club appears to have been a secret society composed of Law School students and professors, with a focus on social and intellectual stimulation outside of study of the law. Monthly meetings at the Signet Society, which included cocktails and an informal dinner, featured guest speakers who were encouraged to speak on any non-legal topic, including discussions of current events or philosophical musings. Speakers were frequently prominent politicians, writers, and scientists.

The Club should not be confused with the Choate Law Club, one of many Law School clubs that competed in the Ames Competition in Appellate Brief Writing and Advocacy.

Acquisition Information

Mason Hammond found the records in the Signet Society Club House and donated them to the Archives in 1971.

Related Material

At the Harvard University Archives:
  1. Records of the Choate Law Club (Harvard University Archives call number HUD 3277.4000)
  2. Records of the Choate Chapter of Phi Delta Phi (Harvard University Archives call number HUD 3684.2000)
At the Harvard Law School Library:
  1. Records of the Choate Law Club, 1909-1914 can be found in the Student Law Club Records.

General note

This document last updated 2016 August 11.

Processing Information

The Records of the Choate Club were first classified and described in the Harvard University Archives shelflist prior to 1980. In September 2008, Juliana Kuipers reprocessed the material. Reprocessing included rehousing materials in appropriate containers and the creation of this inventory.

The archivist left the records in the original order in which they were received and in most cases retained the original folder title, noting when the contents varied from the given dates. Because notes had been written on several of the original folders, photocopies of the original folders are included at the front of each folder for the researcher’s use.

Two items found loose at the beginning of the collection appeared to belong to the Ames club of the same name, rather than the Choate Club, and were subsequently moved to the Records of the Choate Law Club (Harvard University Archives call number: HUD 3277.4000)
Link to catalog
Title
Choate Club (Harvard Law School). Records of the Choate Club : an inventory
Author
Harvard University Archives
EAD ID
hua29008

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.

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