COLLECTION GUIDES

1880-2018

Guide to the Collection

Restrictions on Access

Curtis Club records created after 31 Dec. 1966 are CLOSED until 50 years from their creation, EXCEPT to current officers and members of the club. Closed records will be opened in five-year increments, beginning on 1 Jan. 2022, when records created before 1 Jan. 1972 will be open.

This collection is stored offsite and must be requested at least two business days in advance via Portal1791. Researchers needing more than six items from offsite storage should provide additional advance notice. If you have questions about requesting materials from offsite storage, please contact the reference desk at 617-646-0532 or reference@masshist.org.

This collection is on deposit. Users must sign an agreement regarding procedures of use for access to the collection.


Collection Summary

Abstract

This collection consists of the records of the Curtis Club of Boston, Mass., a private social club for lawyers and judges founded in 1880.

Historical Sketch

The Curtis Club of Boston, Mass. was founded on 19 November 1880 as a men's law club "for the mutual benefit of its members, intellectually and socially." Its name came from Massachusetts judge Benjamin Robbins Curtis, who served on the U.S. Supreme Court and famously wrote the dissent in the Dred Scott case. The eight original founders of the club were all graduates of the Boston University School of Law: Henry P. Barbour, Eugene L. Buffinton, George S. Forbush, J. Frank Paul, William E. Russell, John E. Wetherbee, Charles W. Whitcomb, and William A. Whiting.

Monthly dinner meetings of the Curtis Club are held from October to May. These dinners were held at Young's Hotel in Boston until the hotel closed in 1927. The club then met at the Parker House for many years and now meets at the Union Club. In the club's first few years, members read papers on legal subjects, but that practice eventually stopped, and the dinners became primarily social occasions. Membership consists of lawyers, judges, and law school professors who are elected and pay dues. Membership is currently limited to 40, but in the past the club was smaller. Officers include a president, vice-president, secretary, and treasurer, who all serve one-year terms before rotating out.

The first female members of the Curtis Club were elected in December 1984.

Sources

The Curtis Club: An Account of Its Fiftieth Anniversary, November 18, 1930, Together with the List of Members and the By-Laws and Rules. Boston: Privately printed, 1930.

Collection Description

This collection consists of the records of the Curtis Club of Boston, Mass., primarily monthly meeting minutes, including by-laws, lists of members, readings, correspondence, dinner menus, memorials, and other material. Also included is a manuscript biography of Benjamin Robbins Curtis, for whom the club was named. The collection also contains correspondence between officers and members of the club; an account book of dues assessed and expenses; and printed matter, including histories of the club. Among the members and officers represented in the collection are George Sumner Forbush, Everett Watson Burdett, Felix Rackemann, John Adams Aiken, Melvin Ohio Adams, and Louis Dembitz Brandeis.

Acquisition Information

Deposited by the Curtis Club, August 2016, with additions, June 2018.

Restrictions on Access

Curtis Club records created after 31 Dec. 1966 are CLOSED until 50 years from their creation, EXCEPT to current officers and members of the club. Closed records will be opened in five-year increments, beginning on 1 Jan. 2022, when records created before 1 Jan. 1972 will be open.

This collection is stored offsite and must be requested at least two business days in advance via Portal1791. Researchers needing more than six items from offsite storage should provide additional advance notice. If you have questions about requesting materials from offsite storage, please contact the reference desk at 617-646-0532 or reference@masshist.org.

This collection is on deposit. Users must sign an agreement regarding procedures of use for access to the collection.

Restrictions on Use

The Massachusetts Historical Society does not claim ownership of the literary rights (copyright) to letters and manuscripts written by individuals in this collection. The Massachusetts Historical Society cannot give permission to publish or quote from documents to which it does not hold copyright. Use of these materials does not imply permission to publish. It is the sole responsibility of the researcher to obtain formal permission from the owners of the literary rights (copyright) to publish or quote from documents in this collection.

All reproductions, including photocopies and digital photographs, are for personal use only. Personal use copies may not be donated to or deposited in other libraries or archives, or made available to other researchers, without the written permission of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Detailed Description of the Collection

I. Meeting minutes, 1880-1966

Arranged chronologically.

This series, which makes up the bulk of the collection, consists of minutes of the monthly meetings of the Curtis Club from October to May, beginning with its founding in 1880, kept by the club secretary. Annual meetings are held in January. Included are by-laws and rules, lists of members, members proposed, votes, readings, correspondence, dinner menus, memorials, accounts, clippings, and other material, as well as a 26-page biographical sketch of Benjamin R. Curtis written by the first club president George Sumner Forbush, 17 Dec. 1880, and a typescript history of the Curtis Club written by Everett Watson Burdett, 20 Jan. 1893.

Miscellaneous records of meetings include undated lists of members, undated poems and other readings, notes by Felix Rackemann and others, historical material about the club, and other papers.

For additional correspondence, see Series II. For additional accounts, see Series III. For additional menus and other printed matter, see Series IV.

Carton 1SH 19GB $
1880-1952
Carton 2SH 19GC /Folder 1-26
1953-1966
Carton 2SH 19GC /Folder 27-28
Miscellaneous records of meetings, 1880-1942 and undated

II. Correspondence, 1885-1966

This series contains correspondence to and/or from members and officers of the Curtis Club discussing meetings, dues, and other membership matters, as well as thank you letters. Included are letters removed from a disbound binder, arranged alphabetically; a folder of miscellaneous letters arranged chronologically; a volume of typed transcripts of personal letters from John Adams Aiken to Melvin Ohio Adams, both club members; and correspondence, receipts, and other papers of club treasurer Louis Dembitz Brandeis.

For additional correspondence, see Series I. For club accounts, including dues, see Series III.

Carton 2SH 19GC /Folder 29-43
Loose correspondence, 1889-1938

Arranged alphabetically by correspondent.

Carton 2SH 19GC /Folder 44
Loose correspondence, 1933-1966

Arranged chronologically.

Carton 2SH 19GC /Folder 45
"Letters of John Adams Aiken to Melvin Ohio Adams," 1885-1918
Carton 2SH 19GC /Folder 46-47
Papers of Louis D. Brandeis, 1885-1888

Arranged chronologically.

III. Account book, 1880-1919

This volume, kept by various treasurers of the Curtis Club, includes accounts of member dues assessed, as well as expenses for dinners, printing, etc.

For additional accounts, see Series I.

Carton 2SH 19GC /Folder 48

IV. Printed matter, 1887-1930

This series contains two copies of the Curtis Club's 50th anniversary history, printed in 1930, both with post-1930 manuscript annotations about members. Also included are pamphlets related to the club and menus for dinners, some with manuscript notes.

For additional menus and other printed matter, see Series I.

Carton 2SH 19GC /Folder 49
The Curtis Club: An Account of Its Fiftieth Anniversary, November 18, 1930, Together with the List of Members and the By-Laws and Rules (Boston: Privately printed, 1930)2 copies.
Carton 2SH 19GC /Folder 50-51
Pamphlets, etc., 1891-1918

Arranged chronologically.

Carton 2SH 19GC /Folder 52-57
Menus, 1887-1917 (with gaps)

Arranged chronologically.

V. Post-1966 records, 1967-2018

Box 1SH 19GD +
1967-1971

CLOSED to researchers, EXCEPT current officers and members of the club, until 1 Jan. 2022.

Box 2SH 19GE %
1972-1976

CLOSED to researchers, EXCEPT current officers and members of the club, until 1 Jan. 2027.

Carton 3SH 19GF 0
1977-2018 (unprocessed; part 1)

CLOSED to researchers, EXCEPT current officers and members of the club, until 50 years from their creation and opened in five-year increments.

Carton 4SH 19GG 1
1977-2018 (unprocessed; part 2)

CLOSED to researchers, EXCEPT current officers and members of the club, until 50 years from their creation and opened in five-year increments.

Preferred Citation

Curtis Club records, Massachusetts Historical Society.

Access Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in ABIGAIL, the online catalog of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Researchers desiring materials about related persons, organizations, or subjects should search the catalog using these headings.

Persons:

Adams, Melvin O., 1850-1920.
Aiken, John Adams, 1850-1927.
Brandeis, Louis Dembitz, 1856-1941.
Burdett, Everett W. (Everett Watson), 1854-1925.
Curtis, Benjamin Robbins, 1809-1874.
Forbush, George Sumner, 1853-1905.
Rackemann, Felix, 1861-1934.

Subjects:

Boston (Mass.)--Social life and customs.
Boston (Mass.)--Societies, etc.
Clubs--Massachusetts--Boston.
Dinners and dining--Massachusetts--Boston.
Judges--Massachusetts--Boston.
Lawyers--Massachusetts--Boston.
Men--Societies and clubs.
Menus.

Materials Removed from the Collection

Photographs from this collection have been removed to the MHS Photo Archives.