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HUD 3272

Cercle Français de l'Université Harvard. Records of the Cercle Français de l'Université Harvard : an inventory

Harvard University Archives

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© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: HUD 3272
Repository: Harvard University Archives
Creator: Cercle Français de l'Université Harvard
Title: Records of the Cercle Français de l'Université Harvard, 1873 and 1888-1952
Date(s): 1873
Date(s): 1888-1952
Quantity: 2.6 cubic feet (4 document boxes, 2 flat boxes, 7 portfolio folders)
Language of materials: Records are in French and English.
Abstract: The first organization at Harvard University to use the name "Cercle Français" was established in November 1873 to encourage the study of French language and literature. This club was in existence until 1875. A second Cercle Français was founded by Adolphe Cohn, professor of French at Harvard, in 1886 as a debating club under the name Conférence Française. The group soon changed its focus to begin producing French plays, an annual tradition that continued at least into the 1940s. The records document the history, activities, and interests of both organizations, with the bulk of the records documenting the later group.

Acquisition Information:

  • J.H. Hyde; 1898
  • W.C. Lane; 1900
  • Pierce fund; 1909
  • Rudolph Altrocchi; 1938
  • J.J.C. Edwards; 1942 June
  • Accession 11505; 1988 August 19
  • Estate of C.R. Lanman; 1951 December
  • Processing Information:

    The Records of the Cercle Français de l'Universite Harvard 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.

    Conditions on use and access:

    These records are open for research.

    Related Material

    History of the Cercle Français

    The first organization at Harvard University to use the name "Cercle Français" was established in November 1873 to encourage the study of French language and literature. The club, whose official name was Le Cercle Français des etudiants de l'Université de Harvard, met for readings of selected prose, verse and dramatic pieces and original essays, and discussion of current events. The club was in existence until 1875. There is no clear link between this club and the Cercle Français founded in 1886, although in 1931 the later club began referring to its founding date as 1873.
    In 1886, Adolphe Cohn, a professor of French at Harvard, established Conférence Française de l'Université Harvard, a debating club connected with the advanced course in French conversation (French 11). Rather than confining itself to discussions and lectures on French literature, the club began performing French plays in 1888, and in 1893 changed its name to Le Cercle Français de l'Université Harvard. The Cercle Français was one of the first student clubs at Harvard to include serious drama in its repertoire, rather than the comedic theater staged by the Hasty Pudding Club. The Cercle's annual production of classic French plays, including many by Molière, became a tradition that continued into the 1940s. Women first participated in the plays in 1914, when Radcliffe students took the female roles; in later years, female parts were also played by Boston debutantes. In 1932, the Cercle Français gave its first French play by an American author, Sérénade, written by a un-named former president of the club.
    The Cercle Français also sponsored an annual lecture series to which the public was invited. Known as "Conférences Hyde," or the Hyde lecture series, this series was endowed in 1898 by James Haven Hyde (AB 1898), former president of the Cercle, to bring a distinguished man of letters to Harvard to lecture on French art, literature or history.
    The Cercle Français participated in several worlds' fairs, winning awards at the expositions of 1900, 1901, and 1904.
    In 1902, the Cercle Français became affiliated with La Fédération de l'Alliance Française aux Etats-Unis et au Canada. In February 1914, the Cercle Français was re-organized to become more closely associated with the Department of French. A new position of honorary president was created and filled by a professor. During World War I, the Cercle Français continued to perform their annual plays, but profits were donated to charities, including the Red Cross.
    Interest in the Cercle Français flagged in the late 1930s and early 1940s, but was revived by the creation of the Harvard French Club in 1943. Both clubs seem to have unofficially disbanded in the 1950s.

    Biographical / Historical

    The first organization at Harvard University to use the name "Cercle Français" was established in November 1873 to encourage the study of French language and literature. The club, whose official name was Le Cercle Français des etudiants de l'Université de Harvard, met for readings of selected prose, verse and dramatic pieces and original essays, and discussion of current events. The club was in existence until 1875. There is no clear link between this club and the Cercle Français founded in 1886, although in 1931 the later club began referring to its founding date as 1873.
    In 1886, Adolphe Cohn, a professor of French at Harvard, established Conférence Française de l'Université Harvard, a debating club connected with the advanced course in French conversation (French 11). Rather than confining itself to discussions and lectures on French literature, the club began performing French plays in 1888, and in 1893 changed its name to Le Cercle Français de l'Université Harvard. The Cercle Français was one of the first student clubs at Harvard to include serious drama in its repertoire, rather than the comedic theater staged by the Hasty Pudding Club. The Cercle's annual production of classic French plays, including many by Molière, became a tradition that continued into the 1940s. Women first participated in the plays in 1914, when Radcliffe students took the female roles; in later years, female parts were also played by Boston debutantes. In 1932, the Cercle Français gave its first French play by an American author, Sérénade, written by a un-named former president of the club.
    The Cercle Français also sponsored an annual lecture series to which the public was invited. Known as "Conférences Hyde," or the Hyde lecture series, this series was endowed in 1898 by James Haven Hyde (AB 1898), former president of the Cercle, to bring a distinguished man of letters to Harvard to lecture on French art, literature or history.
    The Cercle Français participated in several worlds' fairs, winning awards at the expositions of 1900, 1901, and 1904.
    In 1902, the Cercle Français became affiliated with La Fédération de l'Alliance Française aux Etats-Unis et au Canada. In February 1914, the Cercle Français was re-organized to become more closely associated with the Department of French. A new position of honorary president was created and filled by a professor. During World War I, the Cercle Français continued to perform their annual plays, but profits were donated to charities, including the Red Cross.
    Interest in the Cercle Français flagged in the late 1930s and early 1940s, but was revived by the creation of the Harvard French Club in 1943. Both clubs seem to have unofficially disbanded in the 1950s.

    Series and subseries in the collection

    Scope of the collection

    The records document the history, activities, and interests of both Cercles Français, with the bulk of the records documenting the later group. Records of the early group include the constitution, lists of members, and brief notes on meetings. Records of the later group quite substantially document the annual theater productions, including the administrative details of producing the play and the club's relationship with Boston's society matrons and debutantes, who served as patronesses and actresses for the plays. In addition, the records document the club's lecture series, itsparticipation in worlds' fairs, and its interaction with other local French clubs.

    General

    This document last updated 2010 June 24.

    Container List


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