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Calliopean Society, Yale College, records

Call Number: RU 857

Scope and Contents

The records of the Calliopean Society document its history through minutes of meetings, legal documents, catalogs of members, librarians' records, and financial records. In addition to meeting minutes, 1819-1853, the bound volumes also contain revised constitutions and histories of the Society. Minutes of the last several weeks were written on single sheets of paper and are filed in a separate folder. Additional copies of revised constitutions and bylaws are found in separately bound volumes.

Librarians' records, 1830-1851, consist of catalogs of books, reports on acquisitions of new books, and circulation records.

Financial records, 1819 to 1855, document purchases, membership fines, and summaries of income and expenses.

Correspondence, 1837-1852, by the officers documents relations between the Society and Yale.

Exhibition records, 1820-1835, detail the dramatic, poetic, and oratorical activities of the Society.

The addition consists of one oration from 1825.

Additional documentation of the Society can be found in published material cataloged as Yeg5 C1L.


  • 1819-1855


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession 2011-A-032, gift of Lynn University Library.


The records are arranged alphabetically by type of material.


4.27 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The records consist of correspondence, constitution, meeting minutes, library records, reports, income and expense reports, orations, and exhibition records documenting the activities and operations of the Calliopean Society.

Biographical / Historical

The Calliopean Society of Yale College was founded in 1819, after the resignation of dissatisfied members of the Linonian Society. Although the details of the founding are obscure, a group of Southerners left Linonia, presumably angered by the demeanor of the newly elected Northern Linonian President. The group adopted the name Calliope, and established itself as the only organization at Yale dedicated to offering gentlemanly fraternity. Reaction to the founding was harsh, with Linonia immediately expelling the Calliopeans from membership and only allowing them to be reelected to membership with a two-thirds majority vote. From 1819 to 1853, Calliope, though smaller than the two major debating societies, Linonia and Brothers-in-Unity, had a strong fraternal element, which helped it to survive, often as a haven for Southerners.

Calliopeans met weekly to participate in debates, oratorical displays, and dramatic performances. In addition to these member meetings, the Society offered talent exhibitions to members of the Yale community consisting of musical and dramatic acts. The Society newsletter, The Mirror, provided members a chance to publish poetry and stories.

Like other societies at that time, Calliope prided itself on its library, which, by the time of its dissolution, contained nearly six thousand volumes. The Calliopean librarian maintained thorough records of the texts available. Indeed, because of the large number of volumes, Calliope had little room to store them. While the College offered a solution to the problem by allocating space to Linonia, Brothers, and Calliope in a newly built Alumni Hall in 1853, the Society had already dissolved by a vote of the members, by that time.

The reasons why the Society dissolved are not clear, but in 1853, a Committee was established within Calliope to decide upon the way in which the group would cease to exist. After much debate, the Calliopean Society was disbanded.

General note

Forms part of Yale Record Group 40 (YRG 40), Records of Yale clubs, societies and organizations.

Guide to the Calliopean Society, Yale College, Records
Under Revision
compiled by Staff of Manuscripts and Archives
July 2007
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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