The Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center welcomes donations that enrich our local history collection, particularly from organizations that have thrived within our Quad City communities. Recently a donation of Contemporary Club papers came to us.
The Contemporary Club was formed in Davenport in 1896 by Rev. Hamilton Schuyler, Dean of Davenport Cathedral. He founded the Club with the purpose of discussing current problems involving the public welfare in a serious but friendly way in order to better understand and become equipped to solve these issues.
The Weekly Outlook, a local publication “Devoted to Home and Outing Life, Literature, Art, Music, and the Drama” first reported on the fledgling club in mid-October 1896. It stated that:
“… meetings will be held every third Thursday night, at which time one of the party is to tell all he can about a certain subject assigned him by a committee. He is given half an hour to do this, and then each member present will have an opportunity to deny his premises, jump his logic, and challenge his facts for five minutes. There is no doubt but that this club will prove a lively and interesting one.”
The “by invitation only” membership was originally limited to twenty-five but was soon raised to thirty-three men. Early meeting places included Lee Hall, Library Hall at 6th & Brady, the Commercial Club, and for many years the Outing Club. Members soon referred to themselves in meeting minutes as “the Immortals” presumably because their words would live on in these scholarly papers examining contemporary issues. Over the years Contemporary Club members have included politicians, journalists, lawyers, doctors, architects and educators and the Club continues to thrive.
Stop by Special Collections sometime to view the many different and timely topics discussed in these papers ranging from serious to tongue-in-cheek. You may be surprised at how timely the topics from the early 20th century are today, such as “The Future of Credit Island”, “Prison Reform”, “Feeding a Hungry World”, or “The Influence of Modern Journalism”.
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