University of Rochester Library Bulletin: Records of the Pundit Club

Volume XX · Winter 1965 · Number 2
Records of the Pundit Club

The meeting of the Pundit Club in October, 1964, commemorated the 110th anniversary of the founding of the organization. Three papers were read at this meeting, two of which were historical in nature, and one of which was based to a large extent on manuscripts which have accumulated in the library's special collections over a long period of years. In the preparation of his paper on the University and the Club, Professor Schilling relied heavily on these records, and it became obvious that the University Library had become the repository of the largest group of records of the organization which are now extant.

Lewis Henry Morgan, one of the founders, bequeathed his manuscripts as well as his estate to the University at the time of his death in 1881. Since Morgan was known to have discussed the results of most of his ethnological investigations and tested the validity of many of his theories before this group, it is of great importance to the student of Morgan to be able to work with the papers which he read. Of these, we have twelve which are clearly identified as having been prepared for the Club, and the manuscripts of many others which eventually found their way into the text of Morgan's most important books. Professor William C. Morey, in his "Reminiscences of 'The Club,'" remarked that in Morgan's "successive papers could be traced quite clearly the stages in the growth of his anthropological ideas…In the discussions that followed his papers he patiently received from his fellows whatever criticisms might be offered upon his favorite theories…Many of these Club papers reappeared as chapters of his great work on Ancient Society. This crowning work of years of labor was hailed with satisfaction by his colleagues."

The library is the repository of the papers of a number of other townspeople who were members of the Club. Edward G. Miner's papers contain the manuscripts of ten Club papers; those of Arthur C. Parker include two papers read by invitation. Recently papers have been given to us by Mr. Arthur Stern and Dr. William D. Lotspeich.

Among the papers of President Martin Brewer Anderson which form part of the University Archives, there are manuscripts of thirteen papers which he read before the Club. The David Jayne Hill papers, also part of the Archives, include the manuscripts of eight papers. Of the numerous faculty members who have been members of the Club down through the years, and whose private papers have found their way into the archives, some one hundred or more Club papers can be produced. Asahel Clark Kendrick, a charter member, and his son Ryland, are represented by the largest number, most of them being devoted to the classics. Professors Dodge, Lattimore, and Hoffmeister are represented by a few papers of a scientific nature. Some twenty-one papers of an historical nature, read by Professor Morey, may be found in his papers. The beginning of a collection of Professor Schilling's papers has been made. Papers read by invitation by Professor Fairchild and Librarian Donald B. Gilchrist are also available.

In addition to these papers read by members, the library has a collection of records of the Club which was deposited here some years ago. Four manuscript volumes contain minutes of the meetings from July 13, 1854 through May, 1947. They make absorbing reading. The membership list, the variety of interests, the obvious quality of the papers, and the discussions are recorded faithfully and form the basis for the numerous histories of the Club which have been written from time to time. There is a slim volume in which "standing orders" are recorded, a small collection of correspondence received by the secretary from members, and miscellaneous manuscript as well as printed records.

Since the Club has been so much a part of Rochester's social and intellectual life for well over a century, and since it has contributed to and been enriched by the work and interests of the University faculty, it seems fitting to call to the attention of our readers the existence of this collection of manuscript material and to publish the two following papers which were read at its recent anniversary meeting.