Skip to main content

Economy Club of Cambridge Records,1872-1988

Identifier: 017

Collection Overview

The collection contains records of the Economy Club of Cambridge including the organization’s founding documents and subsequent amendments; business records and ledgers; bank checks, bank statements, and check registers; membership applications; meeting programs (that include dinner menus), including anniversary events; book of resolutions (labeled “roll book”); correspondence; minute books; two scrapbooks; and three photographs. It also includes two record books kept when the club went by the name “Mutual League of Friendship.”


  • 1872-1988


Access to Collection

This collection is open to research.

Conditions Governing Use

This collection contains a mixture of public domain and copyrighted material. It is the responsibility of the researcher to understand and observe copyright law and to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyright. The materials for which no copyright exists are believed to be in the public domain. For the materials subject to copyright and other intellectual property restrictions, researchers must obtain written permission from the copyright owner(s) if they wish to publish these documents. Questions concerning copyright should be directed to the Cambridge Room, Cambridge Public Library Archives and Special Collections.


The Economy Club of Cambridge was a social, debating, and diner club founded in 1872. Its membership was long restricted to men who lived in Cambridge and its original purpose as a “non-sectarian and non-political” group was the study and discussion of economic, social, political, and historical questions.

On November 6, 1872, Clarence H. Blake, William Pearson, Clair Whittemore, and George Whittemore formed a secret society called the Four Socials for the purpose of “social intercourse and also to improve in Literature.” Four Socials was limited to the four originating members who met in each other’s homes. The following year, two additional members were invited to join and the name of the secret society was changed to the Mutual League of Friendship. The fortnight dinner meetings were dedicated to reciting literature, singing, and listening to music. In the fall of 1876, the club held its first “Ladies’ Night”, and in 1878, the club adopted the motto, “Commune Bonum,” meaning the common good.

The club remained a secret society until 1879, when the Mutual League of Friendship became a debating society and meetings took place in halls like the Prospect House or the G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) Hall rather than in member’s homes.

In 1885, the society adopted a new name, the Economy Club of Cambridge. The 75th Anniversary Program of the Economy Club of Cambridge (1947) defines the meaning of the club’s new name as: “the word ’economy’ being understood as it is used today in schools which teach Economics.”

Debating became the foundation for the meetings and topics ranged from the local (such as the abolition of Cambridge’s Common Council) to the international (such as the Panama Canal). The club held joint debates with similar, local societies such as the Cambridge Prohibition Club, the Young Men’s Republican Club of Somerville, and the Harvard Democratic Club. Guest speakers delivered lectures and scientists gave demonstrations. In 1911, the Economy Club of Cambridge openly supported the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) move from Boston to Cambridge.

Membership has included state and city officials, judges, academics, business people, and professionals. By 2009, the once large membership (over 100) membership had dwindled dramatically to 15 active members. The club continued to meet six times each year at the MIT Faculty Club for drinks, dinner, and the presentation of a guest speaker.


6.7 Linear feet

4.7 Cubic Feet

11 boxes (9 Hollinger boxes, 2 tall legal Hollinger boxes, and three photographs wrapped together.)

1,750 Items

3 Photographic Prints

Language of Materials


Organization of Collection

This collection is organized into the following seven series:

Series 1: Financial Records, 1947-1976

Series 2: Membership, 1894-1950s

Series 3: Meetings and Events, 1895-1988

Series 4: Minute Books, 1888-1932

Series 5: Mutual League of Friendship, 1878-1888

Series 6: Other Organizational Records, 1872-1953

Series 7: Photographs, 1922, 1947

Approximately xx items organized alphabetically or chronologically within series.

Custodial History

Internal transfer on January 1993 from Joseph Sakey, former Director of the Cambridge Public Library who retired in December 1992. The collection was in his office. No known history of donation. No Deed of Gift or Donor File available.

Processing Information

Processed by Patsy Boudoin in February 2009, rehoused and partiall reprocessed by Christine DiBella in June 2015, and converted to EAD by Alyssa Pacy in January 2017.
Finding aid to the Economy Club of Cambridge Records, 1872-1988
Processed and finding aid by Patsy Boudoin (2009), rehoused and reprocessed by Christine DiBella (2015), EAD created by Alyssa Pacy (2017)
February 2009, June 2015, and January 2017
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge Room, Cambridge Public Library Archives and Special Collections Repository

Cambridge Public Library
449 Broadway
Cambridge MA 02138 USA