Guide to the Record Book of the Literary Clubs of Newark 1786-1799 MG 180
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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The New Jersey Historical Society, Publisher
Inventory prepared by Bob Golon as part of the “Farm to City” project funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.Finding aid encoded by Danielle Kovacs. February 2004. Production of the EAD 2002 version of this finding aid was made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Finding aid written in English.
In the late 18th century, literary societies were a source of social and fraternal activity in Newark. The Belles-Lettres, Minerva, and Union Societies shared common goals of brotherhood, gentlemanly debate, literary awareness and social responsibility. The Belles-Lettres Society was, according to its constitution, “instituted for literary improvement,” with the three exercises of each meeting being reading, writing, and speaking. The Minerva Society was founded to “promote and cultivate a love of literature, friendship, and morality.” The Union Society was “instituted for the improvement in literature and science…(stressing) the importance of acquiring knowledge in youth when the mind is free from pursuits which commonly engage it when arrived at a more advanced age.” Membership was all male.
Discussion at the meetings centered on social and political topics of the day, including slavery, education, the merits and drawbacks of an agricultural versus an urban society, and legal issues such as capital punishment. The groups met on a weekly basis.
William Halsey (1770-1843), the first Mayor of Newark, Joseph C. Hornblower (1777-1864), Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court, and Elias Van Arsdale (1770-1846), President of the State Bank of Newark, were members of one or more of these organizations as young men.
This collection consists of the records from three men’s literary societies of Newark: the Belles-Lettres Society, the Minerva Society, and the Union Society. The bound volume contains a separate section for each group, each containing the constitution, rules and bylaws of the organization, and a full membership list. The minutes and notes from meetings are recorded for each group, as well as a listing of discussion topics for each meeting.
This collection also consists of a section of legal questions and answers, resembling a transcript of a legal interrogation. It does not appear to be related to the literary societies activities. It may have been the work of Joseph C. Hornblower, Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court, as this collection was donated by Caroline Bradley Hornblower, his granddaughter.
Multiple pages are torn out of the bound volume at two different locations.
There are no access restrictions on this collection.
Photocopying of materials is limited and no materials may be photocopied without permission from library staff.
Researchers wishing to publish, reproduce, or reprint materials from this collection must obtain permission.
The New Jersey Historical Society complies with the copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code), which governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions and protects unpublished materials as well as published materials.
For materials related to literary societies and clubs or the individuals documented in this collection, see:
This collection should be cited as: Manuscript Group 180, Literary Clubs of Newark (N.J.) Record Book, The New Jersey Historical Society.
Gift of Caroline Bradley Hornblower, 1881.