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HUD 3277.4500

Choate Club (Harvard Law School). Records of the Choate Club : an inventory

Harvard University Archives

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© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: HUD 3277.4500
Repository: Harvard University Archives
Creator: Choate Club (Harvard Law School)
Title: Records of the Choate Club, 1955-1967
Date(s): 1955-1967
Quantity: 0.18 cubic feet (1 half document box)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: 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.

Acquisition Information:

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

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)

Conditions on use and access:

Closed until 2017.

Related Material

At the Harvard University Archives:

At the Harvard Law School Library:

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.

Scope of the collection

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.

General

This document last updated 2016 August 11.

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