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Catholic Club of Philadelphia records


Held at: Philadelphia Archdiocesan Historical Research Center [Contact Us]100 E. Wynnewood Rd., Wynnewood, PA

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Philadelphia Archdiocesan Historical Research Center. 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

Proposed in May 1875, the Catholic Club of Philadelphia, formerly the De Sales Institute of Philadelphia, was organized January 2, 1877 and opened at 1403 Locust Street. The club, one of many founded in major cities throughout the country during the late 19th century, offered wealthy men of a certain socioeconomic background cultural, intellectual, and social opportunities. These clubs sponsored balls, concerts, lectures as well as other events and activities that raised large sums of money for local church charities.

The Catholic Club appears to have had strong and sometimes overlapping ties with several other Philadelphia Catholic societies and associations, including the American Catholic Historical Society, the Catholic Philopatrian Literary Institute, and the Hibernian Society.

Like other Catholic male fraternal societies and elite clubs, the Catholic Club of Philadelphia tried to keep its distance from the bishop in order to maintain its financial independence and decision-making authority. During the first couple decades of the 20th century, dioceses tried to consolidate their charities, urging clubs to work with newly-formed charitable bureaus. It appears that the Catholic Club died out during this period of time.

The collection contains administrative records, including a minute book documenting the club’s early years (1872-1876), by-laws, reports, and lists of elections and officers.

It also contains incoming and outgoing correspondence of which a significant amount is postcards. A majority of these postcards documenting club news, events and activities as well as invitations are addressed to Charles F. Devenny, a member of the Board of Directors.

Programs, souvenirs, and ephemera related to club-sponsored events and events sponsored by other local Catholic societies are also included. The collection also contains newspaper clippings, many of which document club events and activities, as well as letters of appeal for Catholic charities.

Miscellaneous pamphlets, cards and circulars, many of which do not appear to be directly related to the Catholic Club, are also included.

Oates, Mary J. The Catholic Philanthropic Tradition in America. Indiana University Press, 1995.

Accession number 1990.023

This is a revised finding aid. An older finding aid is available in hard copy at PAHRC.

Preservation copies of the newspaper clippings should be made.

Some oversized materials, specifically the N.C.W.C. News Sheets, should be separated and housed in oversized boxes.

Philadelphia Archdiocesan Historical Research Center
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Faith Charlton
Finding Aid Date
; April 2011
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Collection Inventory

Minute book, 1872-1876.
Box 1 Folder 1
By-laws, reports, souvenirs, lists of elections and officers, 1877-1919.
Box 1 Folder 2
By-laws, reports, souvenirs, lists of elections and officers, 1877-1919.
Box 1 Folder 3
Incoming correspondence, 1885-1889.
Box 1 Folder 4
Outgoing correspondence, 1877-1919, undated.
Box 1 Folder 5-6
Postcards and invitations concerning club news and events (most addressed to Charles F. Devenny), 1871-1903.
Box 1 Folder 7-8
Programs, invitations, and ephemera related to Club-sponsored and other local events, 1877-1905.
Box 2 Folder 1-4
Letters of appeal for Catholic charities, circa 1880-1893.
Box 2 Folder 5
Miscellaneous newspaper clippings, circa 1880-1900.
Box 2 Folder 6
Miscellaneous pamphlets, circulars and ephemera, 1871-1923.
Box 2 Folder 7-8

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