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Contemporary Club Papers: Introduction

About The Contemporary Club

For 130 years, this bi-state essay club has provided a public and publicized forum on contemporary topics and issues. Founded in 1896, its membership is limited to residents of Scott County, Iowa and Rock Island County, Illinois. More than 300 members have presented 800 essays in 100 volumes of the Papers. Topics have covered a range of issues including technology, social reform, education, history, politics, art and music. Some original short stories have also been read. Seven essayists present their works orally to the club over a season from October to May, meeting on the last Thursday of the month.

Blog Entry

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. The Club continues to thrive.

Digitized Contemporary Club Papers

Digitized copies of Contemporary Club Papers for select years are posted in chronological order on the succeeding tabs of this guide.

COMING SOON Online Index

Related Archival Collection