Held at: Bryn Mawr College [Contact Us]Bryn Mawr College Library, 101 N. Merion Avenue, Bryn Mawr 19010
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Bryn Mawr College. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
The Conversational Club of Norristown is a women's education club founded in 1885 by Isabella Smith. Under her direction, the members met unofficially until October 1887 when they adopted a constitution. The club's purpose was the "Study of History, Literature, and Art, and the promotion of intelligent thought and conversation." The group held weekly meetings from November to March where members explored an agreed upon topic for the current year. These topics were split into sections for individual meetings. At each meeting, two members gave essay presentations of twenty minutes, then a third member read an excerpt of some relevant published text for ten minutes. This was followed by a discussion session.
A majority of the original members were wives of doctors, factory owners, and clergymen. They met in members' homes in downtown Norristown; membership was initially limited to thirty members but that number was reduced, first to twenty-five, then to twenty. Besides regular thematic programs, club activities have included biannual dinner parties and occasional outings.
The club, now more than twenty-five years past its centennial anniversary, continues to meet, and keeps many of the same traditions. They have made small changes over the years like reducing their meetings to twice a month in 1969 but nevertheless, they continue in their core purpose of women's education and maintain the same meeting format, yearly topics, and winter and spring dinner parties.
The Conversational Club of Norristown Papers consists of records of the meetings and activities of the club. The collection is arranged in three categories: "Records of Meetings", "Business and Financial Records", and "Club History".
Records of Meetings includes the yearly programs - comprehensive records of the topics studied at the meetings from 1890-91 to 2012-13; minutes of the meetings from 1890 to 2007 (with some missing years); essays that were presented at meetings between program years 1939-40 and 1994-95; photographs taken at dinners within the last thirty-five years; menus from several annual dinners; and a box of various trinkets distributed when responsibilty for the year's presentations was assigned.
Business and Financial Records includes correspondence from 1935-2005, primarily RSVPs for dinners, membership acceptances, and member resignations. The financial records include treasurer's reports, receipts, a few returned checks, and records of dues and contributions.
Club History includes publications on the club's history, clippings from newspapers and other primary sources about members of the club (1935-2003); various obituaries and funeral programs for members of the club; awards programs for the Norristown Area High School where the club gave a yearly award; records on similar organizations; and maps with directions to the homes of members.
This collection was a gift from the Conversational Club of Norristown
- Bryn Mawr College
- Finding Aid Author
- Jo Dutilloy, Toby Makowski
- Finding Aid Date
- 2015 June, edited 2017 June
- Access Restrictions
This collection is open for research.
- Use Restrictions
The Conversational Club of Norristown papers are the physical property of Special Collections Department, Bryn Mawr College Library. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns.